What Could Be The Future Of EA Access?

I’ve been using EA Access for the past few weeks now, and I couldn’t be more happy with the service. It has given me the opportunity to try some great games before their release, like Battlefield: Hardline, and it has also encouraged me to try some games that I wouldn’t normally play, like UFC, Madden 15 and NBA 15. That’s without mentioning titles like Peggle 2, Need4Speed and Plants vs Zombies. These are all games that I, at one point or another, have thought about purchasing and playing, but my pesky budget always gets in the way. But, with EA Access, I can pay £20 a year for the privilege of playing these great games in the ‘Vault’ without extra charge, as well as get some great discounts and early access to new releases. Win-win!

That’s what the service entails at the moment, however. Whether or not this will be the case in a year or so is anyone’s guess. The reason that I say that is because, at the moment, the service seems a little too good to be true. Call me sceptical, but I fail to see how EA could add many more games to the Vault for the current subscription fee. I mean, Madden 15, NBA 15 and UFC are still relatively new games, they haven’t even been out for a year yet. Not only that, but they’re still the most relevant titles with squeals destined for the summer. If you were to buy them from new from the online store, you’d be looking at well over £100 just for those three games. So can EA afford to run Access for such a small fee? Well of course they can afford, they’re swimming in money like Scrooge McDuck – but it’s very much unlike EA to take such a hefty hit.

At the moment, I think that they can afford to get away with it because few people seem to use the service. This is just speculation, as I haven’t yet managed to find the exact number of subscribers. But if I was to use my circle of friends as a sort of study group, I know that just two (including myself) out of seven Xbox One owners subscribe to the EA Access service. I think that’s because, like me, they were sceptical about the service’s worth, and I still second guess myself now and then, assuming that EA will charge me again for the games that I’ve downloaded at some point. But, as of yet, I’ve not noted any extra costs and I haven’t been limited as to the number of Vault games that I can A) download and B) have on my console at any one time. At the moment, at least, EA Access is more than worth the money.

But I can’t see this lasting forever. At the moment EA are giving us a decent number of free games, with a reasonable discount on new games, for our £20 a year. For me, it works out that I’ll probably make back my £20 after factoring in the discounts I’ll get from purchasing current and future EA titles, like the next FIFA, Battlefield: Hardline and Dragon Age: Inquisition. A 10% saving on each of those games isn’t huge, but it eventually adds up. Then, once you’ve factored in the money I’ve saved from downloading the Vault games mentioned earlier, I’m definitely making the most of what is currently a cheap service. However, when EA start to add more games to the Vault, I could see their subscription fees, or tiers, changing.

Perhaps they will introduce a new level of subscription, and limit those on the £20 a month tier to only being able to download the older Vault games. I mean, if they continue adding games to the Vault as they have been doing so far, by the end of the year they’ll probably have well over 20 titles – that works out at £1 per game. By 2016 there could be quite a hefty back-catalog, and when that happens I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a change in EA Access. For me, I could see it going the route of subscription by type. Perhaps they will bring in an ‘sports’ subscription, which limits users to just the sports games in the vault, who knows. Alternatively, they could go the way of ‘Games with Gold’ for their newer games, and have a set number of games available for download at any one time. So perhaps in September you could download and play FIFA 15 and in October they’ll offer NHL 15 instead. Either way, I can’t see the service remaining at £20 a year and continuing to expand at the rate that it’s currently going.

So maybe EA will raise the price, or maybe they’ll introduce different tiers or subscription methods. Call me skeptical, but I can’t see EA offering this service as is for too much longer. At the moment, there are a limited number of games in the Vault and those games are predominantly ‘sports’ games. Garden Warfare and Battlefield 4 are the only shooters, Peggle is a puzzle game and Need 4 Speed is a racer, which is technically a sports game anyway. I reckon that, when EA start expanding on the types of games they offer through the service, they’ll also start expanding on the ways which they charge us for said service.

But what do you think? Do you have a little more faith in EA than myself? Could you see them keeping the subscription as is, or do you think that the service is currently too good to be true? As always, let me know in the comments below!

  • mhunterjr

    The pessimism in this article ignores WHY ea access exists. It’s not so much a revenue generator as it is a means to hedge their losses to used game sales…

    Essentially, EA would rather you give them $30 for 1yrs access to madden and a couple of older games, than to have you spend $40 to buy the game used, while they get no profit from you. $30 is better than $0.

    Also, EA isn’t ‘taking a hit’ by offering the service. Games only enter the vault after they’ve exhausted their stay in retail. These are games that have stopped generating sales revenue. By throwing games into the vault after once people stop buying them, EA rejuvenates the online player base. This encourages long time players to keep playing, and gives EA more opportunities to sell DLC and Ultimate Team content. Again DLC$ is better than no $.

    Also, the 10% discount isn’t a ‘hit’ to EA either. When a game is sold at retail, the publisher nets less than half of the sale price as profit. On Xbox live, they get 70%. By cutting out the middle man, they pass some savings to the consumer, while banking more for themselves. $38 per copy is better than $25 per copy.

    Also, the discount encourages people to buy digital, which means they can’t trade it in. This means fewer used copies on stores shelves. This means more people will have to buy new. Which means more money for EA.

    Finally, the value of the vault isn’t in the growing size of the catalog. This time next year, there may be twice as many games in the vault, but the majority of them will be old iterations of annual franchises. When FIFA16 hits the vault, who’s gonna care about FIFA 15 and 14 being in it? The real value is in the new titles that enter each year. With that in mind, there’s no reason to increase the price or add other limitations to the service as it grows.

    EA access in its current for is literally s win-win for consumers and EA alike. They don’t need to change a thing for it to be massively profitable…. Except maybe find a way to keep people from being so needlessly pessimistic.

  • mhunterjr

    The pessimism in this article ignores WHY ea access exists. It’s not so much a revenue generator as it is a means to hedge their losses to used game sales…

    Essentially, EA would rather you give them $30 for 1yrs access to madden and a couple of older games, than to have you spend $40 to buy the game used, while they get no profit from you. $30 is better than $0.

    Also, EA isn’t ‘taking a hit’ by offering the service. Games only enter the vault after they’ve exhausted their stay in retail. These are games that have stopped generating sales revenue. By throwing games into the vault after once people stop buying them, EA rejuvenates the online player base. This encourages long time players to keep playing, and gives EA more opportunities to sell DLC and Ultimate Team content. Again DLC$ is better than no $.

    Also, the 10% discount isn’t a ‘hit’ to EA either. When a game is sold at retail, the publisher nets less than half of the sale price as profit. On Xbox live, they get 70%. By cutting out the middle man, they pass some savings to the consumer, while banking more for themselves. $38 per copy is better than $25 per copy.

    Also, the discount encourages people to buy digital, which means they can’t trade it in. This means fewer used copies on stores shelves. This means more people will have to buy new. Which means more money for EA.

    Finally, the value of the vault isn’t in the growing size of the catalog. This time next year, there may be twice as many games in the vault, but the majority of them will be old iterations of annual franchises. When FIFA16 hits the vault, who’s gonna care about FIFA 15 and 14 being in it? The real value is in the new titles that enter each year. With that in mind, there’s no reason to increase the price or add other limitations to the service as it grows.

    EA access in its current for is literally s win-win for consumers and EA alike. They don’t need to change a thing for it to be massively profitable…. Except maybe find a way to keep people from being so needlessly pessimistic.