Wednesday, July 30, 2014

EA Access

Well, this is interesting.

Electronic Arts announced yesterday that they are starting a program called "EA Access". Here's a description:
For a $US4.99 monthly fee, subscribers will get access to a library of EA games the company is calling “The Vault”. The announcement didn’t go into much detail about what games will be included in this collection. To start, EA said that it will offer four main games, all of which were released in 2013 or early 2014: FIFA 14, Peggle 2, Madden NFL 25 and Battlefield 4.

Additionally, subscribers will receive a ten per cent discount when purchasing any and all EA “digital content” on the Xbox One. That includes full games like Dragon Age: Inquisition and premium services like Battlefield 4 Premium.

Oh, and one more thing: EA Access subscribers will get early access to upcoming titles “up to five days before the release date.”

The service will cost $US4.99 on a month-to-month basis or $US29.99 for a full year’s subscription.

I haven't seen someone else mention this (which is why I'm willing to), but it appears that this is another step in the "games as services instead of products" model. That's where this is all headed, and ten years from now, I seriously doubt that games will even be sold in physical form anymore.

Remember, it's a service, not a product. In other words: it's not a discrete sale, it's a revenue stream.

Are you getting a good deal here?

Well, if there's even one game in "The Vault" that you would be willing to pay full price for, then it is indeed a bargain. Plus, EA has to offer games that are playable over the long term in order to entice subscribers to stay subscribed. That means the quality of games offered should be reasonably good.

I do see this as a gateway drug, though. You might be getting a good deal, in certain situations, but I think this deal is potentially much better for EA.

What's to stop EA from inserting a 30-second ad at the end of each quarter of a game in Madden? Nothing. Are they going to hound you to the ends of the earth about DLC? Hell, yes. This opens up doors for EA, and remember, since you're not buying a product, you won't be able to resell anything.

It may not be a bad thing, though. Would I pay $14.99 a month to have full access to EA's back catalog? Sure. If this initial test is successful, I can see subscription-based catalog access becoming a popular model for larger companies.

Plenty of yearly franchises are losing steam, and how many of them are worth $60 every year? Big companies are going to have to be more creative to get us to pony up.

In many ways, and I'm very sorry to see this, the marketing of the product has become much more important than the product itself.

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