I already feel like my digital subscriptions are starting to get out of control – and now EA wants me to pay for another one I’ll probably rarely use. But it’s cheap enough I’ll probably buy it, forget it, and reap its one or two benefits in six months.
PlayStation Plus ($70 per year), Xbox Live Gold ($60 per year), Netflix (approx. $102 per year), Hulu Plus (approx. $102 per year), a SmartDNS (approx. $60 per year) and Spotify Premium ($144 per year) seem like plenty to me.
Depressingly, the total cost of $538 per year is less than half of my annual $1,188 Foxtel bill for live sport – it’s never been clearer that Australia’s only pay TV provider is living on borrowed time.
I’m already paying for two video game services, for online access and a library of old games I’ll never play but like to pretend is offering value. Then I have two US video streaming services, plus another to allow an Australian peasant like me to access the abundance of video content in the first place, and a simple way to listen to all my music.
That covers everything I could possibly need. So how is something like EA Access ($40 per year) going to convert me?
‘It won’t!’ You might proclaim. ‘If you don’t like it, don’t use it’.
EA Access subscription service coming to Xbox One
Only, it’s not that simple. EA Access is exclusive to Xbox One, presumably because EA’s deal with Sony means at least some of its “The Vault” instant collection of old games will be available through PlayStation Plus, but not Games With Gold. If EA Access is a success on Xbox One, you can bet your bottom dollar once the current agreement with PlayStation Plus is over, it’s heading to PS4 as well.
Then it’s only a matter of time before publishers pull out or reduce their input to Microsoft and Sony’s subscriptions in favour of charging for their own.
That would be horrible. Netflix and Hulu Plus provide enough difference to warrant subscribing to both, for around $8.50 per month, while Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus don’t leave you with much choice, unless you’re content with solo campaigns. However, both US streaming services thrive because of their wealth of revolving content. I don’t subscribe to Warner Bros, Paramount and Universal Studios separately. Even if I could, and maybe Americans can, it’s far too much hassle, and probably not worth the cost.
Likewise, I don’t want to subscribe to EA games separately, only on my Xbox One. At the very least, if I were to enthusiastically subscribe to such a service, I’d want to pay a monthly fee to access the new releases, on all my platforms. Not just old games and two-hour demos only on Xbox One. And I certainly don’t want to do this for Activision, Warner Bros and Ubisoft as well.
I hope that EA Access, in its present incarnation, isn’t a success, so it doesn’t set a precedent for how we should subscribe to play old games from each publisher. Now, a subscription to play all new releases for an individual publisher, on any device I want, is another matter – and that’s where I think game sales are going, as we move away from physical purchases to digital rental subscriptions. But if EA Access is a success, alongside charging $100 for each new game, how long is it going to take this to evolve into a proper – all content, unlimited use – subscription service?