Consuming media is becoming more and more complicated, thanks to the array of subscription services at our fingertips. First came music startups like Pandora and Spotify. Then came video services like Netflix and HBO Go. Now we’re starting to see similar services for video games. It’s a brave new world out there.
Like subscription services for music and video, gaming subscriptions give players a wide selection of games they can play for a monthly fee. Which begs the question: Are they worth it? For now, let’s focus on EA Access, the subscription service offered by game developer and publisher Electronic Arts. Here’s what EA Access is, along with some pros, cons, and our final recommendation.
What you get with EA Access
EA Access is a gaming subscription service available only to Xbox One owners. It offers subscribers three benefits.
- Play upcoming EA games five days early
- Free access to select older EA games
- A 10% discount on EA games in the Xbox digital store
For those three benefits, subscribers pay $5 per month.
Early access to new games
With EA Access, you can try EA games five days before they come out. Not only is it exciting to have access to games other people are still waiting to play, but it also lets you play the full game for free, so once it officially launches you know if you want to buy it when it comes out.
It’s reasonably priced
At $5 per month, EA Access is more affordable than your average media subscription. Granted, its value is limited because not every game you want to play will come from EA, but assuming you enjoy the occasional EA title, $5 a month isn’t too much to ask.
The game vault has some good games
While it doesn’t have any new games, the vault of titles you can play at no additional cost isn’t half bad. With big titles like Battlefield Hardline, Dragon Age: Inquisition, and a year-old lineup of EA Sports games, you’ll have plenty of games to keep you busy for quite some time. EA adds to the selection regularly.
It’s limited to EA games
This one may be obvious, but it’s the service’s biggest limitation: The only games available through EA Access are games published by Electronic Arts. If you don’t pay much attention to which company publishes which games, you’ll have to check out the games in the vault and look at upcoming EA games to see if enough of them appeal to you to be worth the price of admission. After all, there’s no reason to subscribe to a service if it doesn’t have games you want to play.
It’s not on PlayStation 4
Don’t have an Xbox One? You’re out of luck. PlayStation 4 is far and away the most popular game console this generation, and for whatever reason, EA Access is noticeably absent on the platform. Might it come to PS4 eventually? Sure, but don’t count on it.
The game vault doesn’t have many games
While the EA Access game vault has some gems like Dragon Age: Inquisition and Peggle 2, it only has 14 games at the time of this writing. Making matters worse, half of them are sports games, which won’t appeal to some gamers. More games will be hitting the vault in the future, but don’t expect to see any big game arrive until EA stops making money on it elsewhere.
10% isn’t much of a discount
While a 10% discount is better than nothing, you can probably do better elsewhere. If you already have an Amazon Prime membership, you get 20% off new games as long as you preorder them or purchase them within two weeks of their original launch date. Best Buy also has a membership program called Gamers Club Unlocked that gets you 20% off new releases.
I would recommend subscribing to EA Access only under certain conditions. The service is the best value when EA has lots of high quality games coming soon, because that’s when you get a chance to play them early. Depending on the game, you might even be able to complete it within the five day preview. During the time between those releases, you can keep yourself busy by playing games from the vault, but again the vault is pretty limited at the moment.
My advice would be to sign up for a month when there’s a game coming out that you want to play. Play it for the five-day preview period, then buy it for 10% off if you want, and play games from the vault for the rest of the month. If you enjoy the experience and want to do it for another month, have at it. Otherwise, cancel it until the next EA game you want to play becomes available for early access.