It has been a long journey, but after 16 years, we have finally reach this point. Back then, no one paid attention. After all, when Sega charged a monthly fee to play online games on their final console, it was by a built in dial-up modem on a platform that just couldn’t survive the oncoming Sony juggernaut that was the Playstation 2. But here we are over a decade and a half later with two of the four major gaming platforms already demanding a subscription fee to play online successfully when the next logical step is being taken: EA Access has been announced for Xbox One.
EA access is in essence a subscription-based service granting access to a selection of EA’s library for a montly fee of $5 or a yearly fee of $30. In return, much like the currently popular features of Xbox Live and PSN+, you get access to download digital versions of a selection of EA titles which remain on your hard drive for as long as you like. Sadly, much like PSN+, however, it appears that you will need to keep paying to keep playing. Currently the games on offer are the newest FIFA, Madden, Peggle, and Battlefield games though EA has stated this is just a starting lineup and more will be added to “the Vault” before long.
In order to sweeten the pot for potential customers, the service includes a 10% discount on digital purchases and the ability to get “trial versions” of new games a full 5 days before release date, letting you claim to play first before anyone not on the service.
So, here we are. We have finally reached this point. A new service is being released by one of the big three publishers which if it succeeds, will set a standard for the rest to have their own personal subscription based service across all their games. And EA is expecting it to succeed. As it stands, they stacked the deck by placing it only on the newest platform (read not a lot of games yet to choose from) with the first console maker who made it “cool” to pay for an online subscription fee. (After all, you have no idea how often I have heard “you get what you pay for” as an argument there.) They are betting on this audience thinking this is a great deal and being already ok with the idea.
But I have to ask those of you who are already on or will soon be on Xbox One to not buy into this bullshit. This is just another way EA wants to nickel and dime us to death, and worse, it’s a potential tipping point where we tell the big AAA publishers who can’t seem to make a game that doesn’t demand 5 million sales to break even that it’s ok to milk us like this to support their over-spending. We simply can not allow this as a community on any of the platforms. So please, don’t do it. I know for a fact I will not be. I ask you not to as well.
UPDATE: As if to prove the point, Im making, Activision has chimed in, saying they won’t be doing something like this anytime soon. But the exact words from Activision’s Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg lead to the “wait and see how EA does” approach we as gamers should all be dreading from the AAA industry:
"So of course we're always looking at new opportunities to better serve our players and our communities; and we're always evaluating new business models," Hirshberg said. "And once those models are proven, we'll pursue them if we think it makes sense for our players and for our business.”
So again, I beg of you, my fellow gamers… do NOT fall for EA’s ruse. It will only set a standard for AAA games to leach off gamers like this. Do NOT tell them it’s ok!