EA Launches EA Access, a Subscription-Based Gaming Platform for Xbox One

EA just launched EA Access, an “all you can play” subscription service for the Xbox One.

Jul 30, 2014 at 1:04PM

Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA) just announced the beta launch of EA Access, an "all you can play" subscription service for $5 per month or $30 per year, for Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Xbox One.

The service will give gamers access to last year's top games, including Battlefield 4, FIFA 14, Madden NFL 25, and Peggle 2, along with 10% discounts on EA games, DLC, and in-game currency. EA Access pass holders also get early access trials to EA sports games and Dragon Age: Inquisition up to five days before the retail release. Saved files from the early access trials will carry over to the full retail versions.

Images

Madden NFL 25. Source: EA.

What EA Access means for Sony and Microsoft
EA Access is an ambitious attempt to combine the appealing aspects of several different platforms. It mimics Microsoft's Xbox Live Gold and Sony's (NYSE: SNE) PlayStation Plus plans, which offer free monthly games and steep discounts on digital downloads. EA Access is much cheaper than either service -- Xbox Live Gold costs $60 per year, while PlayStation Plus costs $50 per year.

However, EA Access doesn't directly compete against Xbox Live Gold on the Xbox One, since gamers still need a Gold membership to play multiplayer games online. In fact, the deal actually helps Microsoft, because EA now offers better deals to Xbox One players than PS4 ones.

EA Access is also similar to Sony's PlayStation Now service, a cloud gaming platform that streams PS1, PS2, and PS3 games directly to the PlayStation TV, PS Vita, certain Sony TVs, and the PS4. PS Now allows gamers to rent individual games, but Sony plans to eventually launch monthly "all you can play" subscription plans. Since PS Now offers a much larger library of games than EA Access, it's safe to say that the former will cost much more than $30 per year.

What EA means for other software publishers
While EA Access wasn't designed to compete with Xbox Live Gold, PS Now, or PS Plus, EA is notably forming its own fiefdom within the Xbox One ecosystem. This is exactly what EA did on PCs with Origin, its answer to Valve's Steam. After EA launched Origin in 2011, EA games abruptly vanished from Steam, forcing PC gamers to install the Origin front-end to play EA titles.

On the Xbox One, the change will be more subtle since all digital games must be downloaded through Live. However, EA can assert better control over the final prices through EA Access discounts. This would let EA undercut its competitors with discounted member prices, which can be offset via EA Access fees and higher sales volume. This would possibly convince more gamers to sign up for the service, especially ahead of major releases like Dragon Age: Inquisition and Battlefield: Hardline.

Dai Dragon Attack

Dragon Age: Inquisition. Source: EA.

For example, Inquisition might cost $60 on both the Xbox One and PS4, but Xbox One members with EA Access might only have to pay $54 (after the 10% discount) and can play the game five days earlier than everyone else. EA could also offer limited-time deals on older games in ongoing franchises, like Dragon Age and Mass Effect, prior to launching new titles like Inquisition and Mass Effect 4.

Therefore, if EA Access is successful, Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ: ATVI) and Ubisoft might even set up competing "all you can play" services on the Xbox One. If these platforms flourish, cross-platform games on the Xbox One could become significantly cheaper than their PS4 counterparts.

Why EA Access could fail
While EA Access sounds like a good deal for Xbox One gamers, it's also obvious that EA is only offering up games that are no longer chart toppers. Battlefield 4 has been crushed by Activision's Call of Duty: Ghosts, and sales of FIFA 14 and Madden NFL 25 failed to reach a million copies on the Xbox One since launching last November.

EA has promised to add more games soon, but it's unlikely to add current hits like Titanfall into the mix. Without proper support, EA Access could be quickly known as a clearance bin for unloved EA titles. If that happens, EA could overreact and launch newer titles on EA Access, cannibalizing its own sales. Therefore, it could be tough to convince gamers that EA Access is truly to the Xbox One what Steam is to PC gamers, or what PS Now might be to PS4 gamers.

The Foolish takeaway
In conclusion, EA Access is a bold move that could help EA draw more Xbox One gamers into its ecosystem, while providing the Xbox One with a semi-rival platform to PlayStation Now. It might even force Activision and Ubisoft to set up their own shops within Xbox Live as well. However, EA should tread carefully, or the experiment could end very quickly if EA treats it as a dump site for aging, unpopular games.  

 

Leo Sun has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Activision Blizzard. The Motley Fool owns shares of Activision Blizzard and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of fool.com.

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to www.fool.com/beginners, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at www.fool.com/podcasts.

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.


Compare Brokers