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EA Access: One step away from disaster

EA have unveiled their new subscription based service which takes a lot of cues from already established services like Games with Gold and Playstation Plus. What EA is offering is free EA games (that come and go from their “vault”), discounts and no doubt DLC exclusivity for their EA games. For £3.99 a month the price isn’t so bad and makes the service an attractive offer for those Xbox One owners. But the service isn’t a fantastic deal which could lead EA or another publisher to take things one step too far. The problem lies with yearly releases. Once the new iteration is released the previous game becomes obsolete (for example look at FIFA) and this is especially concerning for EA since its biggest and well known titles use the yearly release model. Once (note not if) other publishers start to get on board they will look to expand upon what EA has envisioned as it isn’t really enough to just replicate. You may ask why it can’t be just replicated but all it takes is one publisher who isn’t getting a fair share of the pie to make a different move (which is more likely as when more and more services pop up, it means stiffer competition which then leads to a few succeeding rather than the many).

This is where the “one step away from disaster” comes in. What if a publisher decided to offer their entire catalogue (old and new) for a monthly fee? Other services would have to adjust to compete. It would be no longer feasible to offer just the back catalogue for a monthly fee nor would it be feasible for other publishers to offer $60 alternatives. Image an offer of £10 or so per month for every Ubisoft game which isn’t bad for both Ubisoft or the consumer as Ubisoft is set to release a total of ten games (4/5 of which are huge) this year. Ten games are enough to make some sort of dent on other game sales. Sure consumers will have more money to spend on games but they will also have less time to play games and may be discouraged from spending a full $60 if they are getting a competition game for a little as £10 a month. This is why others will have to follow suit which is where the problems arise.

Not every publisher is as big or as mainstream as EA, Ubisoft or Activision. Other publishers like Codemasters, Capcom and Square Enix could realistically suffer under this forced model (not I used the words forced because of what I mentioned in the previous paragraph). It could also kill the indie focus on consoles. Sure Microsoft and Sony will still continue to support them (cheaper alternative to releasing a lot of AAA games) but it would be another barrier to overcome for the indie community. Also, in theory, it could encourage less variety amongst publishers. This is something that is happening already under the $60 game model. People are buying fewer games because $60 games are too expensive to buy often. The impact of multiple subscription based services could make things a lot worse where publisher are being forced by the market to have more mass market games as they sell the service. Publisher controlled services is a worrying trend especially when it is the subscription model.

The only way such a future would work is if it was controlled by the platform holders or via a third party and not by the publishers themselves. This is exactly what Netflix has done which has earned them billions in profits. They do create their own content but the vast majority of their content is from elsewhere which is how they have stayed popular and profitable. The TV industry, as a whole, has done the subscription model well by not giving control to the content makers. Looking at the UK Sky, Virgin and BT are the big three. They enforce a subscription based service which works as the end user doesn’t have to buy into multiple subscription services by different companies to watch TV. They have their own content (which they licence out anyway) but the vast majority of its content is licenced (so they are acting like a third party). The problem is no video game publisher has shown the same courtesy except towards the platform holders. With the way EA tried to push Origin past Steam should give a hint at the ambition these publishers now have.

It may just be me but I am seeing a worrying future with the announcement of EA access. One may say Sony were the ones who first made steps towards this future with the inclusion of Playstation Plus, on the PS3, but what EA has done is show how ambition publishers will be in the future. Multiple services selling their own content is going to hurt this industry in a profound way. I for one am not looking forward to it.

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caseh1396d ago

If I was to buy copies of Fifa 14 and Madden at full retail (about £100), I effectively pay the equivalent of a 5 year subscription which will eventually give me access to everything EA release.

I understand your concern and could see where it may ultimately lead but at the same time, I think the way games are released now won't be impacted that much. There will always be those who want physical copies on day one and this subscription model as it stands won't change that.

iamnsuperman1396d ago (Edited 1396d ago )

I think consumers will surprise you. A reason why physical media is still popular isn't really because people prefer it. It is still competitive (price wise). Once that is gone so will physical media. On its own EA services isn't bad except for devaluing games with gold (EA are not going to put their games on games with gold when they are pushing a competitive nd identical service). It is when others start jumping on board which increase competition and the risk of taking that one step to far. Games with gold will become barren if other publishers jump on board but we still have to pay for it (if you want online services) and it could lead to a problem I describe in the blog. It is more the precedent we need to be careful of and gamers really need to think what future they are supporting.

Godmars2901395d ago

The thing with Games with Gold is that its part of XBL. Was something they just started doing in response to PS+. At worse if this effects GwG, its just going to fall behind in visible value to what's offered on a competing console, when people were already for XBL years beforehand.

donthate1394d ago (Edited 1394d ago )

If you are really "thinking of the industry", that stance should have happened when PS+ started. PS+ is a devil in the disguise, because it allows lots of great games for one low price.

It devalues games and eats up consumer time all the while contributes minimally to profits for the publishers and developers. It certainly isn't a main business that can be lived off for these large companies.

Since we are past the stage of boycotting PS+, GwG and of course now EA Access we might as well embrace it!

Now devaluing PS+ or GwG by stopping another great service is plain ridiculous. It is Sony (or MS) responsibility to find appealing content or strike deals that is mutually beneficial to both partners. In fact, do you think EA will release their games on PS+ over GwG, because of the lack of EA Access? If anything, EA (and by extension MS) will instead pressure Sony by not allowing EA games on PS+. When there is lack of EA games on PS+, who will gamers point fingers too?

Mutual benefit becomes extremely apparent as MS allowed EA Access at the cost of their GwG program. Obviously EA offered something MS felt was a good deal to them and vice versa. Could it be that MS is getting a large chunk of the fees they can spend at other publishers to get more games or maybe some of EA games will appear on GwG? Maybe providing EA games at GwG is a great marketing strategy.

We can go on about this, but either way you slash this, competition is good. So if anything, EA joining the fray and MS allowing it, will benefit both parties.

You can wrap this up and twist it around until it sounds great, but the reality is that what YOU want is stifling competition to enhance another service isn't what we want or need. More competition is exactly what we need!

... and from that tree I received BF4 and Peggle 2, and a lot of other benefits for $30. That is less than buying those games in store right now!

In fact, EA Access with a vault will be far better than PS+ or GwG, because the vault will have to have good selection of games at all times, and not occasionally like PS+/GwG.

Who knows, this might force MS/Sony to either up their game compared to EA, lower the price or get rid of it entirely.

Competition is good!

iamnsuperman1393d ago

Well if you going to be like that then what about steam. It offers major discounts and certain points in the year. Isn't that a devil in disguise? The answers is no and that is because, even though steam is a publisher/developer, they are primarily a platform holder (I. E. Steam). Giving The platform holders is far better solution to two problem we have with consoles. One is price to keep online services running. Sony and Microsoft have to make us pay for online service. It has gotten to the point where gaming is too large to keep an adequate service running for free. So we have this fee. The second is the $60 problem. Are money has been eaten up long before are time has which has reduce the value of certain games (we have no second tier games for a reason). What plus and gwg offer is a chance for these developers to make a bit of money and establish franchises (people may like it then by the sequel or buy DLC....) It is a win win for developers and consumers (one fee some games you may not have played and l the time developers get money).

So how is this different from EA Access? Well EA is a publisher. They will take their games away from gwg to sell their system. But we are going to have to continue to pay for gold because those EA games will require gold in some form. In essence that is devaluing of a service. Same fee but one of the biggest publishers out there will not appear on the system (EA has to otherwise the main selling point of their service is void)

Now you say EA will drive content away from plus because Sony said no. This shows a lack of understanding of how plus and business works. EA can't. EA has no ace to force Sony's hand with. Sony has said no to EA. EA has no reason to draw anyone away to their service because there is no service that ecosystem except for plus. EA still gets paid for their games appearing on plus. Consider the PS4 has the largest market share of any of the three new consoles and sells the most EA games of any next generation console; EA has no choice unless they are going to turn down a revenue stream out of pride (pride doesn't make you one of the big boys). Sony has forced their hand.

Like the whole options/no options argument, competition is not always a good thing. My blog highlights a realistic bleak future based in on competing publishing services. It already sets a precedant for other third parties to follow which not only drives up cost for the consumer but can be exploited by one that isn't getting a fair share (re-read the blog)

donthate1392d ago


Steam definitely devalues gaming, but with a big *if* as in the game is sold (not given) and there is pricing competition on a relatively unpopular platform that is plagued by piracy.

EA does have an ace to force Sony, and that is pushing users to MS. One of the main drivers of PS3 sales was due to the unbelievable value PS+ provided. Imagine if MS is having great success driving their platform because of EA. EA is hugely important to the industry and isn't one of the largest publishers without reason.

*** It is a win win for developers and consumers (one fee some games you may not have played and l the time developers get money).***

It is potentially a win for developers and consumers, but not if it becomes the norm to give away games on the cheap. I already significantly stopped buying digital games and just wait for them to appear on these services. I waited on Max, Peggle 2, Crimson Dragon and currently waiting on PvZ. This will continue and there will be a fundamental shift to subscription service instead of purchased games.

Is this good for the industry? Not in the short term, but maybe publishers will find a different subscription model that works.

So yes, it will send a message that if you want EA games on a subscription, go to Xbox One.

Keep in mind that, EA benefits far more from EA Access then giving their game away for pennies on the dollar on PS+. That is the mutual benefit of MS and EA, because Sony ceded.

*** But we are going to have to continue to pay for gold because those EA games will require gold in some form. In essence that is devaluing of a service. Same fee but one of the biggest publishers out there will not appear on the system (EA has to otherwise the main selling point of their service is void)***

Again, you are trying to artifically create value by essentially stifling competition. That is NEVER good for consumers, because you have NO CHOICE, just like how Sony decided that there is NO VALUE to YOU even if you SEE VALUE.


So, if Sony cannot create value by going to EA, they can go to somebody else or find other ways to provide that value or cancel their service and make it free.

As it stands, I would rather have a vault of last years games, than a trickle of last year games every month and that will force MS, and ultimately Sony to act!

+ Show (1) more replyLast reply 1392d ago
Christopher1395d ago

One item of note, caseh:

***which will eventually give me access to everything EA release***

This is not necessarily true. There may be games that never make it to this service. You may have to buy them. Furthermore, you need to play the games when they are available as EA will be adding/removing games from the list on an ongoing basis.

MrBeatdown1395d ago

You're right. If you read the fine print on the EA Access site, they already exclude Titanfall in the fine print. It doesn't even qualify for the 10% off.

I figure it's because it's not EA-owned.

Kayant1395d ago

Also unlike PS+ and GwG it doesn't look like you can download it again once it's removed.

caseh1395d ago


Yeah true I see your point but even if it doesn't include everything you will undoubtedly get great value for your £20 a year investment.

The concern here is other companies being able to commit to a similar structure. If this is a success which it possibly will be, I don't know about profit margins etc but Ubisoft would likely be a candidate for this alongside Activision.

ramiuk11393d ago

knowing EA once alot of dlc is bought for a certain game they will remove it from vault forcing u to download it

blackout1395d ago

This will open the flood gates for all major publishers. This is really AWESOME. I just signed up and my subscription is already paid for with the free games there giving already. I have nooooo problem with this especially since im all in digitally. Now lets get this pre download thing up and running and let next gen begin.

Darkstares1395d ago

iamnsuperman wrote,

"This is where the “one step away from disaster” comes in. What if a publisher decided to offer their entire catalogue (old and new) for a monthly fee?"

Why is that a disaster? You don't want to play their entire catalog for a fee? Then don't. Disaster is now avoided.

"The TV industry, as a whole, has done the subscription model well by not giving control to the content makers."

No they haven't. The TV industry still controls the content by charging blocks of channels they bundle. You think HBO allows the TV industry to control pricing? Think again.

"Multiple services selling their own content is going to hurt this industry in a profound way. I for one am not looking forward to it."

I don't get this. How is offering older titles on a subscription based model hurting the industry? They are still going to make new games and charge $60 for them. What exactly has changed that came with PS+? We still get games the same way we did 20 years ago. Only now they can give us a subscription model for games that no longer have much sell-through.

The only real worry about EA Access I can see is EA may stop releasing demo's. So, they never offered them 20 years ago either. Some may also argue DLC may be tied to this service. That's where the savvy consumer needs to come in and make the decision, like they always have, and wonder if that $60 game is worth it as is. DLC will always be around now as it's a great tool to add more content. Something developers were not able to utilize way back.

The problems with consumers nowadays is many are just so negative on forums. They always think the worst of everything. Want everything for free. Look around at how many jobs are lost, how much money it takes to make these games yet what do we do? We whine and moan way too much. Is $5 a month really asking a lot to get what EA is offering? Try it for a month, don't like it then don't bother with it and go on as normal. But no, it just sounds so much better and way more interesting if the world is always about to end.

iamnsuperman1395d ago (Edited 1395d ago )

I see you read my blog but I am confused how you pick out a line without its context.

"Multiple services selling their own content is going to hurt this industry in a profound way. I for one am not looking forward to it."

I don't get this. How is offering older titles on a... "

The rest of the blog talks about the horrifying next step. This move by EA sets a precedent that only takes a publishers to make. Remember competition breads progression (good or bad).

Also you qquery why 5 bucks a month isn't so bad. Well it is when you paying it on top of your other subscription (that almost compulsory one; especially when it comes to some EA games). Now gold and plus offering entices that make paying for online bearable. With competiting services on the same system that value decrease. One service is far more consumer friendly as we get the value for it. What happens if Ubisoft or Activision gets on bored. That is an extra 15 bucks a month on top of plus and gold to get back to roughly where we are now. It is backwards.

It works with third party or platform holders running the services (especially platform holders) because the selection is much bigger. Once publishers get involved things becomes more expensive than it is now. Third parties (no publisher) has no bias to their own content (so gets a range of stuff) and so does the platform holder (who is there to attract people to the system). Publishers want people to pay for their service but will not allow other publishers the ability to sell their games. What Sony did was force EA's hand. So while games with gold won't get any EA titles (as there is a competiting system in that ecosystem) plus will (because EA had no choice). See the issue

The fact you feel the only bad thing is no demos shows a lack of foresight. This blog isn't really about how EA is doing it but what the consequences of such a move. It isn't a far cry to say others will get on board and that is disastrous especially if the next step (hence the title) is made

Darkstares1394d ago (Edited 1394d ago )

It's not backwards, it's forward thinking. What's backwards is having online multiplayer behind a paywall. That's why you and many are having issues with this. This is how Sony managed to convince gamers they are offering a great service, by compiling those free games on top of it. I have been a PS+ member since it has started and I payed for it because of the services it offered, not that it gave me access to online gaming. Microsoft is now going in the direction Sony did but they started by offering a online service that opened it up on game consoles. So back in 2002 it was quite revolutionary, but now people seen it as a money grab because Sony and others managed to catch up and did it for free.

So you have many tangibles at work here but the fact is the real issue now is how online gaming is still being stuck behind a paywall. This is not forward thinking now, it is convincing the gamer it is now ok because they now package a few free games in with it.

So what we have is the model TV subscribers have. You pay a base fee for the basics and if you want any premium channels you pay for each of them. This is what the consumer wants, they want to be able to choose those premium channels. If Sony and Microsoft had a free online service then gamers would be more open to Activision, EA and others to offer these services more. That's because the choice would be more obvious. Instead we pay to play online and now they want us to pay more but that is all due to how the gamer has no other option to get started now because so many games have a online multiplayer now attached.

If you put PS+ and Gold aside you see these are forward thinking concepts. Much like PS Now is. That is because they are giving gamers an option to access back catalog games at a very reasonable price. As far as new games go it's status quo. Unless we start the conspiracy theories about DLC and all that but that's already an issue.

@Godmars290 below,

It's no secret they want us to buy digital. However that 10% savings is only one of the perks. Some may be willing to pay the $30 a year or $5 a month just to try some of those games being offered from the vault. You can easily justify the price right there if you don't own those games. You also get to play games 5 days in advance so that 2 hours or whatever is going to be offered matches up quite well with the PS Now pricing scheme. The main difference? This early access which is like a rental is for NEW games. Sony is charging $2-$5 to play 4 hours on OLDER titles.

Again these are called OPTIONS. We should be complaining more about Sony and Microsoft charging access to online gaming, not this.

Godmars2901394d ago (Edited 1394d ago )

The thing is we aren't talking about EA's "entire" catalog with this service. Only what they've released or made available on the XB1 so far. Really, how many titles is that?

And really, this isn't about old games and content but new. The titles which come out once or twice a year they want you to buy day-one, before day-one, and the DLC which will come with it. Games which may be offered later on the service, say a year or more, but just as well may not. That will be wholly EA's decision as they take in subscription money.

Likewise this isn't about $5 a month but $30 a year. Because no one in their right mind and with the money to spare is going to waste upwards of $60 when they could spend half of that. Yes, you get 10% off DDL titles and content, save $6, but you spent anywhere $5 to $30, if not more, in order to "save" that $6. If anyone is saving anything its going to be EA with the costs of physical media. Which is likely more than the $1 you get back. If that.

This is a sucker's bet we are talking about. The "entirety" of EA's game library is just to make the pot look sweeter.

beerzombie1394d ago

No if you have not bought any games that are being offered then its a great deal. plus 10% off some new games and when they are old they're probably be offered in the vault. I hope a lot of these companies try this.


Godmars2901394d ago

@Darkstares & beerzombie:

This program is designed to promote the early and first day sales of new titles, games which will come out once or twice a year at best, while people pony up $5 and $30 for early access to those games, and whatever else older titles EA feels like offering. It just so "happens" that what is being offered are their best sellers, of which they've already sold millions. What's going to be offered within a years time, will be the years prior best sellers.

Or not, if EA feels that they haven't sold enough.

though I do expect the Mass Effect collection to be on it at around the same time ME4 gets released.