What’s So Different About EA Access?

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EA Access is about to take on the big boys, Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation+. It looks to be a good fight, too. These programs all cost something extra, above and beyond the controllers, game discs, and game consoles. You have to pay monthly. These subscriptions come with a number of perks such as sneak peaks at new games and free games. Obviously, Xbox Live Gold is for Xbox users and PlayStation+ is for PlayStation users. So, what’s the deal with this new thing from EA?

Not a Streaming Service for Games

Other services, such as PlayStation Now charge an inordinate amount for game-streaming. There were rumors that EA Access would be like PlayStation Now, just more affordable, and that Microsoft would give EA rights to its first-party Xbox 360 video game library. This isn’t the model that EA has in mind for this service. By subscribing to the service, you’ll have a handful of games that, as long as you remain a subscriber, you’ll be able to download and play. Note, I said download and play, not stream.

Is EA Access Available on All Platforms?

No, not yet. Right now, it’s only available for Xbox One. What’s more is that it’s still in beta, meaning it isn’t quite ready for everybody to jump aboard yet, although, that would be an excellent test of the service’s servers. While it’s true that the service is currently only available for Xbox One users, you don’t have to be a subscriber to Xbox Live Gold to use EA Access.

Two Subscription Payment Models

There are currently two payment models for your subscription to EA Access. The first is by using a monthly recurring payment. At the time of this writing, the monthly fee is about $5. There’s also the option to pay for a whole year at once. If you choose this option, you can save about $2.50 a month by paying a total of about $30. This means that this service will be about half of the Xbox Live Gold service which runs about $60 a year. It’s also about $20 less than the $50 of PlayStation Plus, which goes for $50 a year.

What Does It Give Subscribers?

EA is known by most gamers as EA Sports. As such, their main focus is on games that revolve around sports, although they do produce games outside the genre. They are known for some of the most well-known games covering the sports genre, though. Some of their titles include Madden NFL, FIFA Soccer, and Games for NHL hockey and NBA.. By subscribing to this service and not one of the others, you’ll be getting a video game library that is very heavy on sports. There are currently four games available, Madden 14, FIFA 14, Peggle 2, and Battlefield 4. More will be released as time goes on.

What Benefits Does Membership Give Me?

Sure, about $5 a month sounds great to have access to a sizable video game library, but what else does EA Access membership give me? EA has a digital carnival coming up and that event will feature what they call the Vault. Unlike others who put things in vaults to gather dust and not be used, EA’s Vault is their video game repository, its “all-you-can-play-for-free” buffet.

Once you download a game from the Vault, it’s yours as long as you maintain your membership. However, as mentioned above, there are only four games currently available in the Vault, and there is no release or projected release schedule for new games to be added. The prices make this service seem like the best Xmas sale deal, but the lack of games makes it feel more like a risky investment. The monthly subscription could be cool, but, paying for a whole year up front with only four games available doesn’t sound terribly bright.

Subscribers will also receive discounts on upcoming titles. For example, EA Sports UFC is listed at $60 on the Xbox Marketplace. However, if you’re a subscriber, you’ll get a 30 percent discount and pay only about $40. It should be noted that the discount varies by game title, for example, you’ll only save about $4 on Plants vs. Zombies, and a whopping $6 on Need for Speed Rivals. If you have a habit of going out and buying new games as they come out, this service will pay for itself.

Subscribers will also have priority access for downloading the latest titles from EA Sports. The EA site informs visitors that subscribers will be able to download upcoming games five days before the release date to play for a limited time. This includes such titles as Madden NFL 15, NHL 15, FIFA 15, NBA Live 15, I and Dragon Age; Inquisition. There’s more to come, the company says, and the previews will allow you to restart games where you left off.

Sounds Great! Sign Me Up!

Slow down there, hoss. There’s a few more provisos, quid pro quos that have to be mentioned first. Remember, you’re downloading games from this service, not streaming them like on other services. This means that you’re not going to click the link for a game and find yourself on the football field five seconds later. The game has to download first, the WHOLE game has to download first. That could be a little while, especially if you’re downloading a 12 gig game file. Sure, you can start downloads remotely using a few different options, but it’s still time-consuming.

As mentioned above, the current game selection isn’t deep enough to even get your toes wet walking barefoot. Four games isn’t much. They mention plans to bring several really awesome games that gamers are looking forward to, to the platform.

EA Access sounds like a very good video game subscription service, head on over to the website, sign up, and download the Access Hub app today.

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