Electronic Arts will not be releasing a publicly available demo for Madden 15, the next edition of the hugely popular football franchise, as it has done in years past.
The game maker is, however, offering exclusive full-game availability of Madden 15 to customers of its new EA Access subscription service for five days prior to its release.
EA Access is available only on Microsoft's Xbox One, as Sony declined to partner with the publisher. It costs $4.99 per month or $29.99 per year in the US; £3.99 or £19.99 in the UK; and AU$6.99 or AU$39.99 in Australia.
The subscription service, which exited its beta program on Monday, gives players access to a growing number of recently released games that would otherwise cost as much, if nor more than, the amount of a full year of EA Access. In exchange, players give up ownership of the game on a physical disc that can be traded in for cash. EA's effort has been likened to a "Netflix for games," yet has the gaming community cautious over potential shortcomings.
Now it seems as if those worries are warranted. Madden 15 prerelease gameplay will not be available outside the walls of EA Access, nor will a Madden 15 demo make its way to the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, or PlayStation 4, the company originally confirmed to Polygon on Monday.
EA confirmed to CNET that there will be no Madden 15 demo even after the game's release on Xbox and PlayStation platforms on August 26 (August 29 in Europe).
The move marks a departure from tradition for EA. The company has, for the better part of the last decade, released demos for its major sports franchises like Madden, FIFA, and NHL around two weeks prior to release. The goal is to give players a healthy trial period to try out the title to better inform the purchase decision. This has been the case since Madden NFL 06 in 2005.
EA's subscription service, however, boasted as one of its perks the option to try new releases five days prior to launch. A demo is only a taste of a game and sometimes even that small slice is enough to get a customer to fork over $60 for a new release. However, oftentimes it is not, which is partially what drives the use of rental services, such as Gamefly, and used-game purchases from GameStop.
By giving gamers full-game access for five straight days through EA Access, the experience may prove better at converting on-the-fence customers into buyers on launch day, especially if they've been entrenching themselves in all the game has to offer and not just what a demo would typically allow. "And if you want to keep playing? Your progress in the trial will be saved so you can pick up right where you left off if you decide to purchase the game," EA said in a press release Monday announcing that the program has exited its beta phase.
An EA spokesperson stressed that "the decision not to have a demo for Madden 15 was a decision made by the studio and not related to EA Access."
"The difficult decision not to do a demo for Madden was strictly a result of the team's commitment to deliver the highest-quality game possible. We chose to put 100 percent of our development resources toward the full game," the company said in a statement. EA Access trials are not intended as a demo replacement, according to EA. "EA Access does not have any impact on our demo programs for our games," the spokesperson added.
Beyond Madden 15, titles lined up for EA Access' prerelease trials are NHL 15, FIFA 15, NBA Live 15 and Dragon Age: Inquisition. A company spokesperson did not confirm whether EA will exclude public demos for these upcoming titles as well.
Updated at 12:20 p.m. PT:Clarified that EA Access offers full-game access to select titles like Madden 15 and updated story with confirmation from the company. Added additional context around EA Access' prerelease strategy. Also updated at 1:10 p.m. PT to add that EA Access exited beta on Monday, after this story's publication, and is now available to all Xbox One owners. Updated at 1:30 p.m. PT to add further comment from EA and to change the headline to reflect the latest news. Updated on August 12 to add UK and Australia pricing.