Electronic Arts' new subscription service, EA Access, is not intended to pull a fast one on gamers, a top company exec says.
Once a title is available inside what EA calls the Vault -- its list of available games for download -- players will always have access to it once they sign up.
"I think one of the key things is that once a game goes into the Vault it stays there, it's not going to be taken out, that's a commitment we've made," Chief Operating Officer Peter Moore told CVG, a gaming-focused publication, in an article published Thursday.
EA, the publisher and developer behind game franchises like Madden and FIFA, last month announced EA Access as an exclusive service for Microsoft's Xbox One console to a mix of trepidation and curiosity in the gaming community. On the one hand, it removes an ownership element for a form of media still subsisting on discs, which can be sold back to retailers like GameStop for cash. On the other, the service lets customers pay $29.99 per year or $4.99 per month to access full games like FIFA 14 and Battlefield 4, which still carry high price tags to the tune of $45 as standalone used games.
Down the line, EA expects to add more titles to the list, which currently contains four games: those latest FIFA and Battlefield titles alongside Madden NFL 25 and Peggle 2. EA has also thrown in discounts on digital items and game purchases in Microsoft's Xbox Store alongside access to new games up to five days prior to release to sweeten the deal. There is, however, no clear road map for which games make it into the Vault, and when, as EA maneuvers an untested business strategy.
"New game additions will be determined by franchise and timing," Moore added. "We have to make decisions along that way, so there's no template, like 30 days after a game ships it goes into the Vault."
The subscription is an initiative aimed at bridging the gap between expensive full-price video games and the kind of services we're accustomed to using for television and music. EA Access is not full-blown streaming -- like Netflix or Spotify, for instance -- as you still must download games to your Xbox One hard drive. Rather, the service is more in line with programs pushed by both Sony and Microsoft that turn monthly subscription dollars into access to titles that have started to lose their shelf life.
The industry undercurrent driving these new models is a direct challenge to the shaky relationship that console and game makers have with used-game retailers like GameStop, which buys back new titles, marks up the price, and sells the used product back to gamers without sharing the revenue as it does with full-priced purchases.
Sony has PlayStation Plus for $49.99 and Microsoft has Xbox Live for $59.99. Both services give gamers access to a slew of free games alongside access to online multiplayer options. However, Sony and Microsoft can and do remove the availability of certain titles month to month in an effort to get customers to sign up on the merit of what's available in the moment. EA has pledged not to do that with EA Access.
Sony revealed that it turned down EA's offer to feature the subscription service on the PlayStation 4 as "it does not bring the kind of value PlayStation customers have come to expect." That means, as of now, EA Access will remain an Xbox-exclusive service, available in beta until a wider release later this summer, the company said.
Update at 5:15 p.m. PT:An earlier version of this article mistakenly listed the cost of PlayStation Plus as $59.99 per year. It is $49.99 per year.