The likes of Netflix, blinkbox and Amazon Instant Video (formerly Lovefilm) have changed the way we access films. The on-demand services allow users to stream movies from a huge library for as little as £5.99 a month. That’s cheaper than buying the latest DVD release and it’s considerably less than an outing to the cinema. In fact, £5.99 would just about buy you a drink and popcorn.
Spotify, Grooveshark and Deezer offer a similar service to listen to music. For less than a fiver a month, you can have access to unlimited songs. Again, that’s cheaper than buying the Lady Gaga latest album.
In terms of gaming, PC gamers have been quick to adopt digital titles on Steam. The platform recorded over 76 million active users in January 2014 and disc-based PC games are quickly becoming a thing of the past. However, console gamers haven’t been so accepting of such services.
Just over a year on from Microsoft’s 180° U-turn, EA and Microsoft have teamed up to bring Xbox One owners EA Access – a brand new service which will allow gamers to download and play EA titles from “The Vault” for £3.99 a month (or £19.99 for the full year). Some of the additional benefits of the service include a 10% discount on EA digital purchases and exclusive access to titles before they are officially released.
You’re probably thinking that this sounds too good to be true or that there must be a catch. At the moment, there doesn’t seem to be any. It’s affordable, it’s got a great launch line-up and the benefits are decent. It also reassures gamers that digital games don’t have to be overly expensive.
At the moment, the main issue with downloading digital games is the cost, as paying the recommended retail price for a title that has no trade-in value isn’t very appealing. If EA Access is successful, it could see a major change in the way digital games are priced. Hopefully we’ll be seeing such benefits sooner rather than later.
Nevertheless, one of the major concerns about EA Access is ownership. While gamers will be able to download the title to their hard drive, the game will disappear once the membership is cancelled or if the title is changed or removed from The Vault. Whether the games on the service are for limited periods of time or are permanent additions is currently unknown, but this shouldn’t prove much of an issue in hindsight.
Another query is what would happen to the player’s game progress if they were to cancel their membership? According to EA: “If you cancel your membership you will retain your game progress and all earned Achievements, but you will not be able to keep playing unless you purchase the game or reactivate your membership. As long as you did not manually delete your save files, you may continue your game progress.”
With the likes of FIFA 14, Madden NFL 25, Peggle 2 and Battlefield 4 available on the service from launch and more titles in the pipeline, EA Access is a major step for digital gaming on consoles that has a lot of promise. Hopefully, the service will take off well so that more publishers will follow suit.