EA’s All-You-Can-Eat Games Subscription Comes To PC

If you like a lot of big-budget on your biscuit, join this club. Enormo-publisher EA just announced that its previously console-only Access service is now available on PC, as a bolt-on for its Origin game store. Pay a monthly Origin Access subscription fee of $4.99/€3.99/£3.99 and you’ll get all-you-can-eat access to a (currently) small archive of recent EA titles. Perhaps more likely to flog subscriptions is that they include access to ‘trials’ of new releases five days before the full games go on sale, as well as 10% off Origin purchases. The walls around the garden just got taller.

The games available right now are essentially the last round of titles from EA’s biggest franchises – Battlefields 3, 4 and Hardline, The Sims 3, Dragon Age: Inquisition, FIFA 15, Dead Space 3, Need For Speed Rivals, SimCity and, a non-EA title, This War Of Mine. More games will be added in time, but I feel that they’re missing a huge trick by not including well-loved archive stuff like System Shock 2, olden Command & Conquers and Mass Effects.

Then again, £3.99 a month isn’t much, especially if you’re able and willing to binge-play – you could, for instance, get through the entirety of Dragon Age: Inquisition for £3.99 presuming you have plenty of spare time in your month. So I can understand why they chose not to fling open the library doors.

The aforementioned ‘trials’ subscribers will have at apparently exclusive access to will carry over progress and achievements to the full game should you decide to stump up for it. Not a new idea, but the EA blurb reads as though they’re trying to make this the new normal for their stuff. “Real games, not demos,” the site blares proudly. They’re pushing the idea that trials will be time-rather than content-limited, but heartstring-tugging platformer Unravel, the first game out the gates for the system on PC, will have a trial that is restricted to both two levels and ten hours. So, uh, a demo then.

The Unravel trial is due on February 4, five days before the public release of the full game.

Over on console – where the service is instead called EA Access – that five days lead time is the norm, so I guess before too long we’ll be seeing it happen across the board on all platforms. It’ll be a big deal when it happens with a Mass Effect or Battlefield.

None of this is particularly surprising – EA has been dabbling in similar concepts with pre-orders and season packs – but I have to hope at this stage that it’s not a precursor to artificially delaying the release date of full games in order that subscribers have a few days’ head start. Fortunately Square-Enix backed down in the wake of criticism they held Deus Ex: Mankind Divided’s release date to pre-order ransom, so hopefully the industry is mindful of that. I really don’t want seven different £3.99s direct-debiting out of my bank account every month in order to be sure I can keep up with every Jones come 2018 or so.

If Origin Access’ archive of olden games expands significantly there won’t be any arguing from me in terms of value. Hell, I never got around to Battlefield 4, and four quid for a month of play would entirely scratch that itch. I can’t say I’m delighted at the prospect of paying extra to have access to a new release as soon as possible though, even if it is only trials. That said, £3.99 to establish whether you want to then spend £40 is infinitely more wise than blindly pre-ordering because the trailer had lots of explosions and an ironically-juxtaposed downbeat song playing in the background.

More details and sign-ups here. Anyone tempted?

68 Comments

  1. Jokerme says:

    This doesn’t sound very evil. Come on EA, what’s the catch? Mandatory DLC?

    • ironman Tetsuo says:

      Paying for “trials” is a bit off, we used to call them demos and they were free for all to access…

      • Lenderz says:

        Unless I’m wrong (possible) I think that the trials are actually unrestricted access to the full game for 5 days before release without paying for anything extra. So substantially more than a demo used to offer.

    • Premium User Badge

      gritz says:

      As someone who has hated EA since the early 1990’s, even I have to admit that Origin is a pretty damn good service.

      I feel dirty even saying that, since its very name is reminder of why I hated them in the first place.

      • silentdan says:

        I’ve heard very few positive things about Origin, and an unending torrent of complaints about show-stopping bugs, double-billing, atrocious customer support, unjustifiable bans, and so on. Why you think it’s a good service?

        • Premium User Badge

          gritz says:

          Origin actually has a widespread reputation for amazing customer support (especially by comparison to Steam) as well as having an extremely lenient refund policy (that predate Steam’s by a few years).

          Can’t say I’ve run into any bugs either, but I don’t use Origin nearly as much as Steam.

          • silentdan says:

            “Origin actually has a widespread reputation for amazing customer support”

            Yes, for amazingly bad customer support. Visit link to reddit.com and take a look at that shit. “Bought game code online, game disappeared from inventory, origin won’t tell me why.” “Goodbye Origin, and goodbye my ID too” “Account hacked – support is beyond useless.” “One week trying to contact support with no success!” “Origin is a joke. I got hacked 3 weeks ago. Nothing works. Seriously fuck you guys.” It just goes on and on like that. The one that says “EA support service is in another level” looked like it might be a positive story, but it turns out, it’s just a chat log with an EA customer support rep, insisting that Venezuela is in Europe.

          • Premium User Badge

            gritz says:

            Recent rash of Russian hackers notwithstanding, I have a different reddit link for you:

            link to reddit.com

          • Cross says:

            Also, Dan, have you contemplated that people might be more likely to make Reddit posts to complain about specific issues than praise an overall experience? Using Reddit as a proxy for customer satisfaction is pretty dodgy.

          • silentdan says:

            @Cross

            Yes, that’s why I took a quick peek at /r/steam as well. Did not look the same.

            I’ve heard bad things about Origin from many sources. Gritz contradicted what I’d heard. So, I asked him why he liked it, and his answer didn’t ring true to me, so I pointed at the Origin subreddit, which is full of complaints, and more consistent with my impressions than Gritz’s. Reddit’s not a proxy or arbiter of anything, and I never suggested otherwise. It is, however, a place where people discuss things, so if I need a quick sense of how a thing is being perceived, Reddit’s not a bad source to check. It doesn’t prove anything, but it can indicate things.

            @Gritz

            Your link includes more positive comments than I saw in the first few pages of /r/origin, but it also includes many stories about poor customer service. I have no problem believing that many of their support staff are solid people who do good work, though, and I’m glad to hear than many customers are being treated properly.

            I was just curious about where you were coming from, and that curiosity is satisfied.

          • DragonOfTime says:

            Somehow my origin account was hacked a couple of months ago by some Russian hacker, I have no idea how he did it, but somehow he was able to change both the email and password of my account without accessing my email address. As soon as I found out (through the password and email change emails) I tried to log in, and to my great dismay, I was unable to. The next day I called Origin support, because yes, they actually have proper phone support, in my native language no less. By offering proof of ownership of my game by reading the support staffer a CD-key of a game registered to my account and providing him with my previous email address, he got me my account back and I activated the new two-factor authentication. My case with Origin support took less than half an hour and I got everything I could possibly want from it.

        • welverin says:

          I’ve had few issues with Origin myself, and the couple of times I needed to contact support it went better than trying to get help from Valve, but just getting a response is a step up.

          Mind you I just use it for the odd Bioware game.

      • andu says:

        they showed valve that you can actually improve your system beyond using the same clunky service for years without changing a thing. Being able to install things to the drive you want rather than default installation to the steam folder making it VERY difficult for those of us with 100gb SSDs years ago.

    • MaxMcG says:

      Clearly, there must be some long-term evil play here. Better not to get involved with this whole thing, just in case.

  2. Cyroch says:

    Thanks for your interest!
    Origin Access isn’t available in your area yet.
    Please watch this space for news and updates.

    Guess Ireland is not Europe enough?

  3. GenBanks says:

    Definitely tempted, mainly for Inquisition, Hardline and that PvZ shooter. Would be nice if it had Star Wars or Sims 4 included, but I guess they don’t want to undermine sales of their newest games.

    • victorix says:

      DA:I is god awful. You have been warned.

    • Betamax says:

      DA:I is a lot of fun. You have been warned.

      Opinions are great.

      • BloatedGuppy says:

        If you’re pro-opinion, why are you racing to counterpoint his?

        I’ll add one vote to the “DA:I is awful” camp. I’m not sure it’s “not worth $4 awful”, but it’s a bland, baked-by-committee pastiche of baffling design decisions, poorly paced story telling, MMO time sink chore lists, and ill advised feature creep. That they anticipate future RPGs will follow its template is probably the most depressing news we’ve had out of Bioware in a decade.

        • Premium User Badge

          gritz says:

          “If you’re pro-opinion, why are you racing to counterpoint his?”

          If you’re a non-sequitur, why are you hunting walruses?

        • TheAngriestHobo says:

          Well, if you’re pro-opinion, then logically you want there to be as many opinions as possible. He’s not refuting anything by adding his to the mix.

          I am also pro-opinion, so… DA:I is nothing special, which is disappointing following DA:O, but a massive improvement over DA:2. You’ve been warned.

    • Jahandar says:

      I enjoyed DA:I.

      Let that be a warning to you all?

    • Jokerme says:

      DA:I is a lot better than both first and second games. Don’t miss it.

    • Darth Gangrel says:

      DA:O is awful, you have been warned. You can read my rant about it in the “Games I Was Wrong About” article. link to rockpapershotgun.com. DA:I seems better, but cold food is better than awful food.

  4. Borodin says:

    This sounds to me like another step on the road to games as a service. It will begin to set a precedent that a given amount of play time will cost you a certain amount of money. And if £3.99 lets you play for one month then why should £40 get you more than a year or so’s play time before the meter runs out?

    • guygodbois00 says:

      I concur.

    • Velko says:

      Could be. Software-as-a-Service is a big deal in business nowadays.

      It has pros and cons.

    • Premium User Badge

      gritz says:

      Right, because games as a service is something that didn’t exist until just now.

      • XxBrentos9xX says:

        Agreed. This is basically how Steam does it as well, although there is no time limit. But if something happened to steam, nobody would actually be able to own and play the games they “bought” from steam. You’re licensing the right to play it.

        • Premium User Badge

          gritz says:

          Well, that, and the fact that pay-to-play online services have existed since the 1980’s.

    • frightlever says:

      Would it be so bad?

      As someone who hoards Steam games, I’m never going to get through them all. A bit of order in my life might not go amiss.

  5. chuckieegg says:

    “If you like a lot of big-budget on your biscuit, join this club.”

    Lubbalub lubbalub lubbalub lubbalub lub-lub?

  6. trn says:

    On the one hand this sounds like reasonable value. On the other, Dragon Age Inquisition was £7.99 recently and this is also reasonable value (excellent if you ask me).

    Given you never really *own* any of these games anyway, this makes sense. I mean, I have DA:I, but when EA close down Origins (after the replicant war) I won’t be able to play it, just as if I was renting it from them anyhoo.

  7. mukuste says:

    Anyone want to speculate when Steam comes out with something like this? The way music and TV subscription services are going, it wouldn’t surprise me if this was the wave of the future.

    • Mokinokaro says:

      5$ a month for “pro” DOTA 2 matchmaking and double cosmetic drop rate.

    • Alberto says:

      I see Ubisoft as the next candidate.

      Upay-Uplay

    • XxBrentos9xX says:

      You realize that buying a game from steam is almost exactly the same minus the time limit right? Nobody “owns” games on steam, you are merely paying for the right to license it.

      • silentdan says:

        Yeah, no one “owns” any software at all, it’s all just licensed. That’s been the state of the software industry for 50 years. So, the time limit is kind of a big deal. Saying that this is the same as Steam, GOG, Humble, and Apple’s App Store, except with a time limit, is like saying that nuclear weapons are just like suitcases, except with plutonium.

      • Rince says:

        Well, the time limit is a very important thing in my book.
        I hate to be rushed, so having to play and finish my games in a time limit frame would kill the enjoyment for me.

  8. baozi says:

    As long as the price is kept sufficiently low, I think this is a cool way of trying out games, especially when it’s something you’re not sure about. This way you won’t end up with a cluttered library of games you’re just not that interested in playing *cough*.

    Probably wouldn’t be a great deal for short indie games and their devs though, can’t see a lot of money going to them under such a service, but it looks like at the moment at least it’s limited to EA games anyway.

  9. Greg Wild says:

    Main thing stopping me from being interested is that it doesn’t seem to include the DLC. Hell, I’d sub for twice or what they’re suggesting if I could get the likes of DA:I with all the DLC. As it is, they’re suggesting £3.99 p/m plus £30 odd of DLC.

  10. TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

    Speaking of Mass Effect, any news about the super-remaster that’s supposed to bring all of them together, hopefully with DLCs aswell?

    I’d play them, but with ME3 gating campaign-centric things behind multiplayer ( which is probably almost dead? ), and in general no proper unified way to obtain DLC or, god forbid, even have a sale on them, i’m sitting on a franchise that i would love to play but i don’t really want to right now.

    • Rizlar says:

      Re: ME3’s multiplayer, it probably is still active since it’s good fun and seems to have a community behind it. And it isn’t required for anything in the single player campaign. You can use it to bump up your ‘war score’ which doesn’t really matter until the end of the game and can also be done by completing side quests.

    • Premium User Badge

      gritz says:

      Agreed. All of my ME2 DLC is tied to an ancient Bioware account that is non-transferable to Origin, and I have no interest in paying full retail price to get it back.

  11. Bone says:

    I really like the idea of this, if you look at it more as a way of lowering the risk for the consumer.

    • anHorse says:

      Except it’s only about a fiver less than just buying all the games
      So the risk is actually greater here because you have to overspend in the event that you do like something but don’t want to continue with the model

      • Velko says:

        You can get “Battlefields 3, 4 and Hardline, The Sims 3, Dragon Age: Inquisition, FIFA 15, Dead Space 3, Need For Speed Rivals, SimCity and, a non-EA title, This War Of Mine” all together for, uh, £8.99 somewhere? Show me this place.

        • quidnunc says:

          That’s the cost for one month. Very few people would be able to capture all the possible game value in one month so it rises over the course of the rental period. If all you did was play Battlefield 4 (base ~$10) and Dead Space 3 (~$5) for a few months then that’s $15 of value (minus the value one could possibly get from playing battlefield 4 perpetually with a non rental key) for the price of $10

          If you also played Dragon Age then that would be roughly ~$35 in value for however long it takes to finish that ~100 hour game while also playing those other games but still a good value if the cost is $10-15. Of course the real opportunity cost in comparisons would depend on whether or not one buys DLC for those games which EA expects on average for players who enjoy a game, along with the users once locked in (thinking they will possibly play a game in the future then not) keeping a subscription for far longer than the period to play the games they actually end up playing so the real cost is variable and the value declines over time every month you don’t play new games which would add “value” to the subscription.

          • quidnunc says:

            I would however add that the difference in cost to value would have been wider if they had launched this simultaneously with the console when the games were newer. If they add newer games people want to play then it can be a better proposition over time. The trick of course is that DLC typically doesn’t price drop like base games do outside of relatively rare sales.

      • Grant says:

        There are a lot of things to be wary of in this but the current pricing definitely isn’t one of them.

        If you subscribe for six months then it equals to cost of base Dragon Age Inquisition. If you want to play that game and that game alone for six months it’s a good deal for you.

        Add in the other games in a variety of genres (shooters, horror, the Sims.) I don’t see how you could possibly read this as a bad deal.

  12. UncleLou says:

    “I really don’t want seven different £3.99s direct-debiting out of my bank account every month in order to be sure I can keep up with every Jones come 2018 or so.”

    Yeah, that’s the problem, isn’t it. Individually, all these subs often sound good. But suddenly, you’re paying monthly fees for Netflix, Spotify, PSN, Adobe Creative, Origin Access, etc., and you have to wonder if it doesn’t make more sense to pay once for what you *really* want.

  13. Betamax says:

    Makes me nostalgic for the days when going down to my local video shop to rent a game was the highlight of my week.

    • XxBrentos9xX says:

      And the game was an old cartridge where you needed your alcohol and cotton swab kit at the ready

  14. Retroblique says:

    I believe the publishing rights for System Shock 2 are now owned by Night Dive Studios, so I wouldn’t expect that to turn up on Origin any time soon.

  15. Tuor says:

    Obligatory: If it’s not on Steam…

  16. Phantasma says:

    I’m ususally prone to write long-winded posts full of pros and cons, always trying to see both sides of a matter (sometimes to a fault) etc. but in this case i’ll try to keep it short:

    This is a terrible thing and if it gains ground the gaming landscape will take another turn for the worse.

    I witnessed the gradual, step by step, case by case implementation od DLCs and later Always On DRM.
    In the first days it’s always a very gradual and smooth introduction but as soon at it gained foothold and a certain market dominance it rears its ugly head.

    Look at DLCs. They were denoted as small little tidbits, made after the main game finished, everyone could chose what they want in their games or not and in general would make a nice little side-revenue for the developers.
    Fast forward a few years and we have chunky parts AKA Day One DLC ripped out of the main game before launch, massive diagrams only to comprehend all Ubisoft preorder boni, microtransactions avast and in general, quality and content of release versions just suffered.
    Hell, one of the popular mantras here on RPS is “Don’t preorder!” and for a reason.
    Another evolution, season passes recently even spawned multiple season passes, because “paying one price for ALL future DLC” is still not enough anymore.

    And now the thing, the worst outliers in DLC and DRM practises have often been successfully called back, be it because of bad sales or negative online attention.

    That all would change if individual titles would become a constantly paid stream.

    “You didn’t like our new AssCreed? Well, maybe you’ll like the next one. Or the one after that. Ah, just try something different from our library, we don’t care.”
    And even IF the quality of a publisher’s work would decline over a longer period, you would have to keep paying, else you lose the access to titles that you still like too.

    I can’t even begin to imagine what EA, Ubisoft et al. could do with such a tight grip.
    It sure ain’t be pretty.

    • Phantasma says:

      Ok, not so short after all, i’m sorry.

      Also: EDIT BUTTON.

    • Cederic says:

      In the years BS (before Steam) I used to pay a game subscription service: Metaboli

      It only ever added new games though, and they were always a couple of years old, casual or crap. Sometimes all three.

      It did have value though, and it’s only the plethora of cheap games via Steam et al that have made it an unattractive model. Sadly for EA, Steam et al and their plethora of cheap games make their subscription service a similarly unattractive model.

  17. quidnunc says:

    It’s pretty much a rent that acts similar to a social insurance. For some people playing all the (mostly old) games they will get good value but others will essentially be farmed by ea (companies love this business model). It’s taking advantage of psychological biases that don’t consider cost over time, poorly predict future behavior, or actual cost of buy in since many playing a game will end up buying DLC) It’s also about capturing value that would possibly be spent elsewhere if the lock in condition didn’t exist. if you gave yourself $5 a month you might have been able to instead bought a game on a steam sale.

  18. miscu says:

    I don’t think there’s anything really fishy going on here, EA probably makes far less money on the PC market than they do for consoles, and a service like this will likely make them far more money than selling the games individually

  19. Darth Gangrel says:

    I don’t loan books from the library, because I don’t know when I’ll read them and don’t want to feel like I have to read them in a month and then return them (or pay, more in this case). I’d rather just buy them and give them the time I feel like, when I feel like it. That’s why I don’t like subscription services, even as cheap as this. I can just play my huge backlog for free, rather than worry that I’m getting enough playtime this month for my subscription fee.