On August 11th, 2014 an optional subscription service from Electronic Arts was announced on EA’s blog and Major Nelson’s website. Dubbed EA Access, the service would cost $5 per month or $30 per year and subscribers would be able to play EA games several days before they officially launched, albeit for a limited number of hours, get a 10% discount on EA titles purchased digitally and most intriguingly, enjoy unlimited access to a small number of games housed in something called the Vault. If you were subscribed to the service all you had to do was download a Vault game as you normally would and you could play it as much as you liked so long as your subscription was valid.
Skeptics and supporters all over the internet debated the merits of the new service and likened it as a third party answer to PlayStation Plus or Games with Gold for the Xbox One. However, there is a key difference between EA Access and those programs- Games in the EA Access Vault have never been removed as of this writing (though there is a provision for such in the Terms of Service with a 30 day notice.) You could theoretically drop in and out of EA Access and never have to worry about missing a game, even if it was added several months ago. There was one more interesting thing about EA Access. It is a service that is exclusive to Xbox One.
It wasn’t as if EA didn’t want their new service on the PlayStation 4. In fact, Sony considered the program and decided that it should not be on their console. In an oddly vehement response, Sony declared that they did not believe EA Access “represents good value to the PlayStation gamer.”
It is true that when the service began the Vault selection was rather sparse. If you subscribed on day one your choices from the Vault were:
Madden NFL 25
You would have really needed to love sports games to get the most value from EA Access at launch. The first batch of games for early access included Madden 15, FIFA 15, NHL 15 and NBA Live 15 which only added to the perception of EA Access being for sports gamers. For people like me the sports games were great. I enjoyed games like Madden NFL but I didn’t care enough to buy them every year. Through EA Access I could play for a few hours with friends before the game launched and pick it up later through the Vault. The inclusion of Need For Speed: Rivals in September and Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare in October added some much needed variety to the service.
Now that EA Access has been available for a year let us look at what a new Xbox One owner willing to pay $5/month or $30/year can enjoy:
Need For Speed: Rivals
Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare
EA Sports UFC
NBA Live 15
Madden NFL 15
Dragon Age: Inquisition
When added to the original four Vault games the total is a whopping thirteen titles that a new gamer can access as quickly as they can be downloaded. Later this year subscribers will be able to get an early start on Star Wars: Battlefront and those who pick up the Xbox One Madden bundle will receive a one year subscription to EA Access. The inclusion of Madden NFL 16 in that bundle brings the total number of games to 14 and they are all playable without having to buy anything else. As of this writing Electronic Arts is considering adding Xbox 360 games to EA Access through the recently announced backwards compatibility feature on Xbox One. EA Access has arguably made a lot of progress over the year and as EA continues to add more titles to the Vault then the value becomes even greater.