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EA Tests Subscription Access To Game Catalog

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the in-case-you-wanted-to-subscribe-to-yet-another-service dept.

Businesses 63

An anonymous reader writes: Electronic Arts has announced a new program called "EA Access," a subscription-based service that will grant Xbox One users access to a small catalog of EA's popular games, as well as early trials of upcoming games. They're beta testing the service now, and the available games are FIFA 14, Madden NFL 25, Peggle 2, and Battlefield 4. (More titles will be added later.) They're charging $5 per month or $30 per year. It probably won't ever include their newest releases, but it's interesting to see such a major publisher experimenting with a Netflix-style subscription service.

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"small catalog" and "subscription" (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47561617)

no guarantee that

a) the game you want will be available,
2) the game you want will EVER be available
3) the game you do play remains available for the duration of your subscription
4) the rate you pay today will at least somewhat resemble the rate you pay tomorrow.

Re:"small catalog" and "subscription" (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 2 months ago | (#47561687)

While I'm not a fan of "yet another low, low monthly fee," $5 seems well within the boundaries of reasonable, even if it's for an ever-changing catalog of games.

I already use Gamefly, and to some extent, this provides a similar service, for less money -- albeit for a smaller selection of titles.

Games for Gold currently satisfies my need to play a game for a tiny bit and then throw it aside, but this provides another option.

Re:"small catalog" and "subscription" (1)

Bugamn (1769722) | about 2 months ago | (#47562891)

For me, those $5 monthly will buy a better and more varied collection without the subscription problem. The games may be older, but the listed titles really don't interest me.

Re:"small catalog" and "subscription" (1)

geminidomino (614729) | about 1 month ago | (#47565975)

GoG customer, are you?

Re:"small catalog" and "subscription" (1)

Bugamn (1769722) | about 1 month ago | (#47571727)

That and Humble Bundle.

Re:"small catalog" and "subscription" (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 2 months ago | (#47563507)

At first i was thinking "Hey, I like playing the games I like to play, not just for a little while, what about my saves?", but then I noticed it's EA, their games are available for a year or two anyway before the server you have to connect to (for solo play too) goes offline in favor of their latest installation of the same game you get to pay full price for.

Re:"small catalog" and "subscription" (1)

Frobnicator (565869) | about 1 month ago | (#47563849)

There are quite a few games from their back catalog of acquired games I would love to play again. Remember that EA has bought a long list of companies and products.

It is terribly unlikely that most of the games will be brought back (which is a shame) but potential is there. They added a few to Good Old Games but most of them have problems or require dosbox or have multiplayer disabled.

My short list:

* Wing Commander series, including Privateer (some already on GoG, but buggy on some systems)
* Ultima series (already on GoG but buggy on some systems)
* Populus series, with LAN multiplayer
* Old Dune and old C&C games that allowed LAN multiplayer
* The Neverhood

My long list would include a considerable number of games that are not on GoG and have not been updated to run on newer platforms. For that cost and a catalog including updates or even patched current versions of those games, it would be worth it to me.

I fear it will just be games that have the full version still available at a reduced cost, and become more of a games preview service. But hey, maybe they will get this one right.

Re: Old Dune and old C&C games (1)

arminmarth (3770519) | about 1 month ago | (#47572069)

* Old Dune and old C&C games that allowed LAN multiplayer

Just so you know, there's a multiplatform open source modern remake of the C&C engine with Dune, Tiberian Dawn & Red Alert supported called OpenRA [openra.net] . Westwood/EA released C&C and Red Alert as freeware (link has now disappeared) and OpenRA uses the original assets of the game with added functionality like better screen resolution support, multiplayer via Online TCP/IP and LAN with lobbies, and more.

Re:"small catalog" and "subscription" (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 1 month ago | (#47564637)

The problem is this....EA is known for killing MP as soon as a title leaves top tier, usually within a year or two max. this means these games will be "pre-crippled" so that half the fun of a sports title, kicking your friend's ass, will already be removed.

Still for those that made the mistake of buying an Xbone that might be a good deal. For us PC gamers that 30 bucks a year would get you a dozen or more games from the Humble Bundles or Steam sales we could keep forever, of course the guys into EA sports will already have the latest Madden so won't care and...wait who is this supposed to appeal to anyway? Sports guys will already have the sports games,shooter guys generally don't play sports and have the latest shooters (because the MP dies the second a new one comes out), I'm sensing a case of "here is some old shit we can't sell so what do we do with it?" fail coming on.

You must be kidding. (4, Informative)

uCallHimDrJ0NES (2546640) | about 2 months ago | (#47561627)

Sign up to give EA money on a subscription basis? There is nothing in the world that will make me authorize them to charge my account at will. EA has established itself as a company that views customers as the enemy.

Re:You must be kidding. (1)

Sandman1971 (516283) | about 2 months ago | (#47561663)

Go to any store that sells cards, you'll likely find an Xbox Live card (not the sub, but money, like an iTunes card). Log in (either via console or Xbox Live website), redeem card. Use those credits to pay for the sub. Problem solved!

Re:You must be kidding. (1)

uCallHimDrJ0NES (2546640) | about 2 months ago | (#47561755)

I agree, that does appear to solve the problem. If I want to play any of the games they're offering on a DRM basis, that's the way I will do it.

Re:You must be kidding. (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 2 months ago | (#47562509)

Well, it's still your money going into EA coffers.

If you really see them as a company that sees its customers as the enemy, you won't want to be enriching them in any way.

Re:You must be kidding. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47561851)

So, you give money to the store, which gives money to microsoft, which gives money to EA. Your money still gets to EA.

Re:You must be kidding. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47561901)

Yes but that wasn't the original poster's issue with this. He didn't trust EA with his credit card info, this solution solves that problem.

If they did keep up with the newest versions (they won't) of their sports titles the $30 is cheaper than buying the newest version of a single one every year for $60.

Re:You must be kidding. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47561913)

his problem was not with giving money to EA... his problem was with allowing those screw-up to withdraw directly from his account.

here is nothing in the world that will make me authorize them to charge my account at will.

Re:You must be kidding. (-1, Troll)

mythosaz (572040) | about 2 months ago | (#47561695)

I think it's just absolutely darling that people use non-virtual credit card numbers online.

Re:You must be kidding. (1)

uCallHimDrJ0NES (2546640) | about 2 months ago | (#47561789)

I see. So, people are stupid, and therefore it's right for EA and Microsoft to resurrect their cancelled non-virtual credit cards from the dead and continue to charge against them? I'm aware that I'm putting words into your mouth, but turnabout's fair. I think your friends and family's foolishnesses are darling, too.

Re:You must be kidding. (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 2 months ago | (#47562145)

A lot of people are stupid, sure.

Most big banks offer virtual card services. Google Wallet does too. If your bank doesn't, plenty of prepaid options make for safer online shopping.

I think EA and Microsoft should do their best to charge customers whatever their customers voluntarily agreed to, by whatever the cardholder agreement says. If they're breaking the cardholder agreement, they should be held responsible.

Re:You must be kidding. (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 2 months ago | (#47562525)

I think EA and Microsoft should do their best to charge customers whatever their customers voluntarily agreed to

"Do their best"? That assumes any overcharges are accidental. You're giving those companies way too much credit.

What was the last time you heard of EA or Microsoft undercharging someone by accident?

Re:You must be kidding. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47561987)

I think it's just absolutely darling that people use non-AC accounts to post online.

Re:You must be kidding. (-1, Redundant)

mythosaz (572040) | about 2 months ago | (#47562305)

Thank you. That's sweet of you to say.

Re:You must be kidding. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 2 months ago | (#47563515)

Personally I think it's cute people think that "it's online" makes much of a difference...

Well, it's not so cute anymore when it comes to laws, but aside of that...

Re:You must be kidding. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47563751)

I think it's adorable that you believe you can somehow swipe a virtual credit card at a POS terminal.

I have considered buying a card-writer to program an old card with a virtual credit card number I created, so that local merchants can't overcharge me or affect me with their perennial data breaches. No doubt that would make me a terrorist, though. No doubt it would set off their fraud triggers when a non-card-present only number starts showing up in POS transaction logs, even though the payment would be legit.

Re:You must be kidding. (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 1 month ago | (#47567481)

I think it's adorable that you believe you can't.

I touch my NFC enabled phone to a number of physical card readers, each time generating a virtual number...

Re:You must be kidding. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47579685)

"Swipe", moron. As in mag stripe reader only, not NFC. Call me when you can do that with a virtual card number without setting off fraud alarms.

Re:You must be kidding. (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 2 months ago | (#47562497)

Yes. I've set up alarms on all of my accounts, so that if it sees any payment to "EA", it knows that someone has hacked my accounts, because I will not knowingly give that company my money.

Re:You must be kidding. (1)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | about 2 months ago | (#47563611)

EA has established itself as a company that views customers as the enemy.

You normally respect or are wary of an enemy...
If you don't, they are already your chattel or your victim...

Re:You must be kidding. (1)

uCallHimDrJ0NES (2546640) | about 1 month ago | (#47566807)

EA has established itself as a company that views customers as the enemy.

You normally respect or are wary of an enemy...
  If you don't, they are already your chattel or your victim...

Wait a minute...are you saying we can eat EA? What does EA taste like? This sounds like a good plan, and is making me hungry.

Re:You must be kidding. (1)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | about a month and a half ago | (#47578097)

No, I'm saying EA feels that way about us. They don't see us as an enemy, they see us as something they own and can do with as they please... As to the eating thing, did you think I meant "cattle" instead of chattel? Cattle can be chattel, but chattel is not restricted to cattle...

Re:You must be kidding. (1)

uCallHimDrJ0NES (2546640) | about a month and a half ago | (#47578369)

Ah. Now I'm with you. I had the pronoun "they" in what you said referring to customers and not EA, and I did see chattel as cattle. Anyway, I found something to eat since then. I agree. They see us as their chattel, and that's why it's highly unlikely that I would ever buy anything from them. Take a look at this sampling of the crap they are planting on Gamefaqs: http://www.gamefaqs.com/boards... [gamefaqs.com] .

wow.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47561653)

I laughed when I read the title but even for as much as I despise EA I actually think id be willing to pay 30 a year for Madden, FIFA, and Battlefield...

Re:wow.. (3, Insightful)

mythosaz (572040) | about 2 months ago | (#47561707)

As much as I've already posted my support for this idea, there's no friggin' way Madden.Current will be available at launch for $30/year for year after year.

Madden fans are a slam dunk lock for $70/year.

Oh they can sell you newest games on a sub (1)

thieh (3654731) | about 2 months ago | (#47561691)

Just expect them to charge you extra for new releases or something. There is nothing that says the prices will be fixed.

Re:Oh they can sell you newest games on a sub (1)

rtb61 (674572) | about 2 months ago | (#47562099)

Limited catalogue all with pay extra for downloadable content, which them becomes worthless if you stop paying the subscription mwah hah hah. You can bet that will be the way psychopath executives will think.

Re:Oh they can sell you newest games on a sub (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 2 months ago | (#47562533)

Is Madden still a good game year after year? I stopped playing them back in the '70s (I think), so I really don't know.

Is it like fantasy football, or is it more of a twitch controller game where you have to learn combinations and everything and there's quick time events?

Re:Oh they can sell you newest games on a sub (1)

N1AK (864906) | about 1 month ago | (#47564003)

I stopped playing them back in the '70s (I think), so I really don't know.

First Madden was released in 1988 so either you've got a time machine or whatever you were actually doing in the 70s has fucked your memory ;)

Cautiously optimistic (1)

Sandman1971 (516283) | about 2 months ago | (#47561701)

I'm cautiously optimistic about this news. I'm just a casual game. I suspect that the vault will contain games that are 8-10 months old or older and have negligible sales. I don't mind paying 30$ a year to play older games. What this will do is eat into the secondary used game market (Gamestop, EB Games, Future Shop, etc..) as it will be cheaper to rent these older games than to buy even one used game, putting money in EAs pockets instead of these types of stores.

This being EA however, I wouldn't be surprised to see something like online multiplayer being a paid for DLC or something crazy like that, but time will tell.
The fine print also states that they can drop games from the vault at any time, so you can be SOL if you're in the middle of completing a game and that game is pulled. And the fine print also makes it very clear that this is a rental service. Stop paying for your sub and you lose access to the games that you downloaded.

Re:Cautiously optimistic (1)

N1AK (864906) | about 1 month ago | (#47564013)

The fact it's a rental service and they make that clear isn't an issue. Clearly some people don't want that, which is fine. Personally I like the subscription model. Both Spotify and Netflix work for me, and at $5 a month I'd consider a games rental subscription. I would however be interested to see how they handle DLC etc and just how much of their newer library they put online.

Sure I wouldn't 'own' anything but then all the music I bought on tape isn't exactly useful, nor are VHS videos etc. I don't care if I still 'own' BF4 in 10 years time when I likely wouldn't have a console to play it on and the servers it needs were turned off.

Thank god I have a PS4 (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 2 months ago | (#47561771)

All I want is Sims 4 that works standalone, Standalone Complex that works in doll mode, and Second Son: inFamous that works in Grey Hat mode.

I favor a new kind of micropayment system. (1)

Jason Goatcher (3498937) | about 2 months ago | (#47561843)

Maybe pay $2-$3 an hour and have access to a game library the size of the Steam library. The creaters get paid according to how much each person actually plays, which means they'd have to deal with the inflated numbers you get when someone is in a game and simply walks away. Or not, if they want to be assholes about it.

Re:I favor a new kind of micropayment system. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47561953)

My kneejerk reaction this your suggestion is HELL NO. I suppose it might end up being cheaper and would be great for trying out new games on the cheap. The problem for me is there are some games I log hundreds of hours on, I'm pretty sure I'd loose it if I had to pay the price of a new gaming console just to play my favorite game. It'd be interesting for game mods, do those prices go up because your paying both the original developers of the game and the mod writers? Certainly an interesting idea and would certainly reward developers who make games that are enjoyable and have a lot of replayability, but I just don't think gamers would stand for it. My 2 cents

Re: I favor a new kind of micropayment system. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47562019)

You'd still have the option of purchasing games you sink hundreds of hours into.

Re:I favor a new kind of micropayment system. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 2 months ago | (#47563523)

2-3 dollars an hour is interesting at best for people who play games with zero replay value and no long term ...

Ok, it would actually be a steal for contemporary games.

Where "interesting" = "greedy" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47561939)

Yeah, five dollars a month to play something that I probably already own on obsolete media -- an emulated hunk of garbage that they will encapsulate within another emulator to run on modern hardware, and charge me for the pleasure. No thanks.

Nothing good will come from EA, until it dies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47562375)

A horrible company that hasn't had a good intention for the last ten years. Green light only games with mulitplayer, project $10, DRM to the max and buying development studios by breaking them financially as their producer.

So, regardless of anything else stay away from EA. Don't forget that the Xbone is from MS, the home of everybody pays everyday for everything. Another company that is filled with to the brim with avarice.

I thought the Battlefield series (1)

un1nsp1red (2503532) | about 2 months ago | (#47562491)

... was already subscription based? :p

Re:I thought the Battlefield series (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 2 months ago | (#47563535)

Pretty much their whole catalog is already sub based. But considering you pay like 50-70 per game and year today...

Subscription and small catalog don't go together (1)

iamacat (583406) | about 2 months ago | (#47562587)

I would consider buying a bundle outright, but I don't see for whom this is going to make sense. The whole point of Netflix is that you can continuously watch new movies and don't have to buy many from other sources. Here I will only like a portion of already small catalog and will still need to keep buying non-EA games. This kind of offering should really be done by Sony, Nintendo or Microsoft with games from many publishers.

Capitalism (1)

advantis (622471) | about 2 months ago | (#47562673)

When you can't make new stuff anymore, rent out what you have accumulated. Money has to circulate or it's pointless. This isn't criticism (just look how "well" the alternatives went). It's an observation. I'm sure somebody smarter than me wrote a book on the topic at least a century ago :) but rent, subscriptions and planned obsolescence are pretty much the same thing. Services (as opposed to manufacturing) are probably in the same ballpark. With everything pretty much already invented, we need _something_ to churn all that cash which is our sole reason to live :)

I like it better the first time (1)

Vermonter (2683811) | about 2 months ago | (#47562701)

I like this better when it was called Sega Channel [wikipedia.org]

Always online (1)

phorm (591458) | about 2 months ago | (#47562797)

Given the "always online" nature of most games, it's pretty much an expensive subscription model anyhow, and per-game at that!
Seriously, when they decide to cut the servers from [favorite game X] in favour of their latest incarnation, then your game is fairly worthless, and it likely cost more than a $30/year subscription.

That said, it's EA. I'm sure they'll find a way to make this equally awful, if not more.

Good luck with support (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47563805)

If you live outside the US then you're totally boned for any kind of support for EA products.

The cycle (1)

ledow (319597) | about 1 month ago | (#47564159)

"You can buy our products individually"
"You can subscribe to all our products for one fee"
"You can buy our special title by subscribing and paying a premium for that one title"
"You can buy our products individually"

Sorry. I don't "subscribe". The value of it rarely lasts long enough to be of any value at all to me.

Magazines? They tend to repeat themselves after a year, then you realise that all the "new" stuff, you now know where to find out. (Did this for PC magazines, Linux magazines, Astronomy magazines, even New Scientist is ludicrously expensive for what it is).

Movies? You get all of the crap, nothing that you actually want. I did the test subscription to Amazon Prime Instant Video. 30 days of "free" movies. We watched 4. Stopped one within ten minutes. Spent HOURS looking through what they had. All the interesting ones were "not included" so you had to buy them anyway. The subscription didn't make it out of the trial period. Was the same back when video rental was the thing - the good movie that you'd been waiting for was unavailable or more expensive, all you could book out was the dross you'd seen a hundred times.

Games? I have Steam. But I don't have a single subscription game. There are even Steam games that I regularly plug money into for DLC and extras, and I have my own personal "monthly Steam allowance". To be honest, not one of the subscription games (or software) have I even looked at past the word "subscription". Nope, never played WoW either. Sorry, but I invest enough back into games I play (by running servers, helping out on the forums, bug-fixing, or buying DLC / extra copies for friends), I'm not paying every month "just because".

I tried OnLive, mostly to prove that it wasn't a sustainable business model to be honest. I played a full-price game on there for free, then went and bought it cheaper elsewhere. The technology worked but was nowhere near the claims they made. And the "lifetime" (3 years only) pass to the game cost more than my buying it outright on Steam.

I don't see any subscription as worthwhile. Once they have your first month of money, they can destroy the value of what you have overnight and you'll feel obliged to keep paying until renewal. It's just not worth it.

If you want to subscribe to EA games, stick some money in a tin every month. Then when EA only have the same crap as usual, you can go elsewhere, and when you have a month without playing, you're under no obligation, still have your money and can play twice as much next month.

See, I would have... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47564403)

But then they went and used SecuROM again on Sims2.

I was hoping EA were going to change for the better when they fired that asshat that ruined the company, but they seem to still be stuck in their evil ways.
Maybe he wasn't all that responsible for it after all.

Re:See, I would have... (1)

Hotawa Hawk-eye (976755) | about 1 month ago | (#47565251)

So when/if they extend this to PC, I predict the fee will be $5 per month or $30 per year for SecuROM versions or $500 per month or $3000 per year for non-SecuROM versions. That way they can say that they heard their customers and are offering non-DRM versions of their software. When no one subscribes for the more expensive service, they can drop it and claim "We tried, but no one wanted the non-DRM version! Back to DRM for us!"

Re:See, I would have... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47568469)

The monsters, they gave out free copies of a game but they gave them 'as is' instead of sinking man hours rewriting and stripping bits out. What devils.

Smells like Sega Channel (1)

yorgo (595005) | about 1 month ago | (#47564707)

This sounds a bit like Sega Channel (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sega_Channel). I was one of the morons subscribers back in the day. Unfortunately, actual did not equal expected. I thought I'd have access to a lot of fun and popular games. In fact, they provided neither.

This tastes the same.

Sony turned this down (1)

severn2j (209810) | about 1 month ago | (#47565527)

I think its telling that Sony has decided to not provide this service. If they don't think its good value, then there must be something very wrong.. http://www.eurogamer.net/artic... [eurogamer.net]

Recompiled or Emulated? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47567593)

I find it more interesting to consider what it means technically. Are they really going to recompile/adjust those old games to work on the new architecture of the xbox one? Or did they get emulation of the 360 platform working on them?

Metaboli (1)

Cederic (9623) | about 1 month ago | (#47567975)

3-4 years ago I subscribed to Metaboli (http://www.metaboli.co.uk/ ) who offer a tiered subscription service.

I got good value for money, and only really unsubscribed because I started building a good Steam library that grows as quickly as I can play the games.

As people are predicting with EA the games aren't the latest/greatest versions, but they've been around for a few years now and they're still in business so it's clearly a sustainable model.

The last time I checked (1)

mypcfanisbroken (3661963) | about a month and a half ago | (#47573337)

The PC Master Race already had something to this effect. Steam. A large portion of games on Steam are popular, access to early dev builds, amongst other things. With all the corporate lawsuits over IP theft, I wonder where this will fit in. Honestly, I just want to see consoles burn out and die in a fire.

This isn't bad, just to try out some games (1)

nhat11 (1608159) | about a month and a half ago | (#47573683)

I'll like to play some BF4 with friends but I'm pretty casual and I'm not a huge FPS player so I don't play it often so I rather shell out $5 instead of 60 plus whatever expansion pack

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