It’s been a little over a year now since I signed up for EA Access, the Xbox One subscription service created by publisher EA. During that time a number of titles have been added to “The Vault”, the pool of games free to play for subscribers, and its success has even lead to an equivalent service on PC (Origin Access).
It’s also become a useful marketing tool for both EA and Xbox thanks to it providing early access to launch games and discounts on all content. There’s no doubt it attracted a lot of users for both Star Wars Battlefront and will also do it again for the upcoming Battlefront 1. For games where accruing points to get the best toys is part of their long term appeal, getting a head start on the competition can give you an early advantage.
Backward compatibility on Xbox One was an additional boost for the service, allowing EA to draw even further into their catalogue and provide subscribers with more games. Though not really taken too far eight now as only Dead Space and Plants vs. Zombies are available, there is potential here to add further value to the service and to keep it fresh during quiet times in the release schedule.
Perhaps the most significant addition to the service in recent times has been the upgrade of Battlefield 4 in The Vault to the Premium Edition. Where previously players had the core game but still needed to pay for all of the DLC (minus the EA Access discount), now EVERYTHING is available to subscribers to check out.
This is a pretty awesome gesture by EA; BF4 still has a substantial player base and this gives subscribers a taste for the full experience, free of any fracturing of the community because of DLC constraints. Now, more players are going to be in the same pool and the game will be better for it.
Earlier in the last year a similar thing was done when Titanfall was added to The Vault. But in that case DLC became free for everyone irrespective of whether they were a subscriber or not. The difference here though was that Titanfall suffered a lot at launch due to the trickle of content and DLC was quickly fracturing a much smaller player base. Making it free now goes a long way ensure it remains a viable game and franchise in the long term and keeps everyone together… at least until the sequel arrives.
As someone who has given up on map DLC for most shooters and previously only played BF4 on EA Access for the campaign, which you have to admit is pretty forgettable, this is great incentive for me to give multiplayer a second chance so last Friday night I did that and had a fun time of it. Thoroughly outclassed, but still fun nonetheless.
Does this make EA Access a must buy? I think it is still very much determined by whether or not the service has the kinds of games you like playing. There’s sports titles, shooters and even an RPG now with Dragon Age: Inquisition but the breadth of choice is still very limited. For it to succeed in the long term there needs to be enough variety in there to ensure there is something for everyone.
Luckily EA is one of the few publishers who could make this work thanks to their internal studios and the massive back catalogue they have available. If we were to see titles such as NBA Jam, the Mass Effect sequels and Battlefield: Bad Company show up and perhaps even stuff like Black or Burnout 3: Takedown (if original Xbox games ever become backward compatible), it’ll help make it a more compelling option.
So we’re not quite there yet with a “Netflix for Gaming” but if you find enough games here you’d like to play and are willing to wait, it might be a cheap way to keep entertained and even get a chance try out something new in the bargain.
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.