Friday, August 01, 2014

EA Access Is A Semi "NetFlix For Games"

Unsurprisingly, EA is taking the next jump forward into a NetFlix like subscription service by announcing EA Access. Beta testing will begin with the XBox One and potentially grow from there. Users can subscribe for $5 a month, or $30 for a full year. Disc versions of the games will still be produced and sold; that model is not going away. But this version will help capitalize on the digital model that many publishers want to pursue to reduce costs and increase profits.

And just like NetFlix, these games are not rent to own. You rent to rent, and return them when you sub expires. So what are the restrictions? Well for that $30 a year or $5 a month, you get access to 4 EA games. 4. You can't change them, rotate, or pick and choose at random. You get those 4 games for your payment, and have to return them if you don't renew. You'll also receive a 10% discount on any add-on content you purchase for those games. Though really, you don't own the game, so why make those purchases? You have to maintain the subscription for longer then the game's shelf life in order to retain any value off those purchases.

Now if you're one of those gamers who picks up a game, plays it through to the end, and you're done with it, then 4 games at $30 for the year isn't a bad deal. Particularly if you don't purchase any bonus content. You return them and you don't see them ever again. But something like, oh I don't know, Madden, which gets an ad-nauseum amount of replays year after year, even as newer versions come out, there is no savings to benefit from. 5 years in, you've spent $120 for a $59.99 game that you don't own.

Some blogs and reports believe that this new tactic with EA and Microsoft is a chance for the XBox One to reclaim it's original vision: a digital gaming entertainment system. It's eliminating the need for physical discs with EA Access. You won't have games to sell back either to a store or an online bidding site. It's "digital authenticate" that you have legit copies of a product that you are renting without additional hassle. At least, that's how they're trying to sell it.

I'm not buying what EA is selling. The limitations to 4 games, no exchanges, and a measly discount for add-ons that become completely useless when your subscription expires...it's all moot. I'd rather see a more NetFlix streaming service - unlimited gaming downloads for $9.99 a month. Only one game can be "rented" at a time. Gamers would be more willing to purchase that service versus the 4 game restrictions. Oh! And and any multiplayer online content for those games still require you to have an XBox Gold subscription. You can't bypass that. Silver (which is free) can still access the retail game, but not any of the online gaming modes.

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