Some of the biggest news in video gaming went by relatively unnoticed earlier this week. And that was the announcement by EA that its EA Access would end its Xbox exclusivity and would be available on the PlayStation.
What is EA Access, you might ask? It is basically a club or subscription membership that gives players “access” to a library of EA titles, both new and old, as well as perks and bonuses for being a member. On top of that, players also get to play unreleased or still-in-development games through the program becoming, in essence, playtesters for EA.
Why is this such a big deal?
Mainly because we expect that a ton of publishers will move to a similar model in some form or fashion where their archive of games is concerned. Everyone wants that sweet, sweet subscription fee money, and video game publishers are no different.
But not everyone has a legacy like EA does and by that, we mean a huge library of ready-to-mine games from every pertinent era of gaming history. The expansion of EA Access also gives the company the largest footprint of any publisher out there with the subscription service being offered on both major consoles besides the Switch.
EA’s Executive Vice President of Strategic Growth, Matt Bilbey, said of the expansion: “As we continue to invest in digital and subscription services, bringing great games to even more players across more platforms is an exciting opportunity for everyone… Our goal is to give players more choice to try and play our games wherever and however they choose, and we’re happy to bring EA Access to PlayStation 4.”
The move is both a good, and bad, thing for players.
On the one hand, it means that many of us will get access to new games and older games that we may never have had otherwise.
On the other hand, though, if every publisher takes this route then we could see a lot of strange stratification in the video game digital space and that would really be awful from a consumer standpoint.
Anyone who has tried to find out which streaming service a certain movie is showing on knows this problem. When it was just Netflix streaming movies, things were relatively simple, but now this is far from the case.
From a console gamer’s perspective, maintaining a bunch of subscriptions to a bunch of services is strange in that it breaks the all-in-one approach that consoles pride themselves on offering. Not only will you need a PSN subscription to play online, but you might need another subscription to play certain games in the future. This is madness.
The more subscriptions you have, though, the more you spend. Heck, even with one subscription, you will likely spend more on that than you would on buying games from that publisher over the course of a year (unless you’re particularly hardcore).
What this is starting to look like is an early move at making Madden and its other iterative sports games a subscription-based venture. The signs are all there and none of it looks good for the consumer.