EA Access is a service much like Games with Gold or the Instant Game Collection (the free game programs that come with Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus Respectively). It was announced by EA last week and I was lucky enough to find a beta key waiting in my inbox when I got home. I managed to download and install it with no issues.
When I first opened EA Access, I was a little thrown off. It looked just like the regular Xbox One store with a couple extra options. I was expecting something more like Netflix or Origin for Xbox I suppose. I shrugged this off and opted for the $4.99 account option; $29.99 for a year and Use a Code were the other choices. I am assuming “use a code” will be to add promotional time (which I would not be even remotely surprised to see popping up in retail games this fall) or actual Xbox currency cards.
I was more than a little irritated and frustrated to find that once I chose a plan I was signed up for automatic renewal without any kind of prompt. The account management interface is lacking and not very intuitive, something I hope will be fixed before the service goes live to the public. I contacted EA customer care (a nightmare in and of itself) and was informed that Microsoft actually handles all the billing on their end. This explained why the service was so closely linked to the Xbox Marketplace — it is just another vector to get people into trying digital games.
The initial selection was as advertised and the games were easy to sort, although it did bring up the full list of EA games first and I had to sort to get just The Vault titles. The Vault games are also denoted by a small symbol underneath the logo tiles. I downloaded all four free titles; Peggle 2, Battlefield 4, Madden 25 and Fifa 14. I don’t own any of these games for Xbox One and I had only played Battlefield 4 previously so the selection was pretty great from where I was sitting. The service also offers discounts and early access to EA games, as well as discounts on things like the in-game currency for Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare. Since everything was linked directly to the existing marketplace, the download times were the same.
Ultimately it seems as though this is a great value for $5 a month ($2.50 if you get it by the year) to get good games that I don’t have and wouldn’t go out of my way to buy. While the value of the choices will vary from person to person, I think this is a promising start and a great supplement to Games with Gold. Hopefully The Vault will continue to grow as time goes on. If Access actually nets Microsoft and EA a profit it could serve as proof-of-concept for digital games. This, in turn, could lead to bigger discounts and a better selection of free games. As a collector, I’ve never loved the idea of games going all digital, but as I watch my libraries swell it is hard to complain. I always said that in order for me to convert to a fully digital customer, games would have to be cheaper or come out early– EA is trying to do both. I now own or have access to about 15 Xbox One games and only one of those is on a disk.
While still suffering from some easily correctable interface issues, EA Access is another solid victory for the digital revolution. Anyone who buys EA games or wants a cheap, easy way to expand their library should look in to this immediately.
Mike Bertrand is one of the newest Associate Writers here at MONG. Oh, and he totally has Twitter.
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