First things first: it is free to download, and it is free to play. Eurogamer knows you know this, but it's worth re-stating. Particularly since this is EA, so obviously you're suspicious. EA, of course, makes DVD cases out of murdered kittens, bathes in the blood of nuns, and squats inside a hollowed-out National Trust volcano, eating babies.
That was the theory anyway, but these days you can't really make that argument. FIFA's getting better, not worse; there's good new IP, like Skate, Spore, Mirror's Edge and Rock Band on EA's release schedule; there are fewer money-grubbing Sims releases; and Battlefield Heroes, despite its ad-driven business model, doesn't actually have in-game ads.