Electronic Arts, one of the industry's oldest and now largest video game publishers, has announced a new business strategy: a Netflix-for-games subscription service of sorts that will, for a monthly fee, give Xbox One owners access to a growing library of recently released titles.
Called EA Access, the subscription service will cost $4.99 per month -- or $29.99 per year -- and allow unlimited access to something EA calls The Vault, its repository for the service's available titles. The Vault will launch with four EA-developed games: FIFA 14, Madden NFL 25, Battlefield 4, and Peggle 2.
The service is a noticeable departure from existing delivery networks in the game industry. Though it is not full-blown game streaming -- meaning no hardware or download required, as Sony is attempting to deliver with its forthcoming PlayStation Now service -- EA Access does mark the first instance of a major industry player taking its titles the route of a subscription service.
It is, however, not unusual for EA, which has grown its digital efforts considerably over the last few years. The company soared past its first-quarter earnings estimates last week partially on the strength of FIFA, yet also thanks to an 80 percent boost in its "ultimate team" fantasy soccer league service, a 50 percent boost in its hockey fantasy league service, and a 350 percent jump in its fantasy American football offering.
EA Access will arrive exclusively on Xbox One soon, the company says, in a public beta for North America and Europe only. Subscribing to the service will also net consumers 10 percent off digital downloads and add-ons to EA titles through Microsoft's Xbox store, like full-price game purchases and membership services like Battlefield 4 Premium.
Membership will be available through Xbox Live, but will also be available in-store at GameStop and online at Amazon.