EA Access Sparks Digital Subscription vs. Ownership Debate

The big success story sweeping the digital landscape is the infamous Netflix business model, which has unwittingly created a long line of copycats desperate to imitate their rapid ascent to success in the modern world.

Recently, the videogame publisher EA announced plans to offer their own subscription service called ‘EA Access’ in a collaborative effort with Microsoft and the Xbox One console. With many games retailing at $70 each, the allure of having access to a vault full of EA games for $29.99 a year sounds like a very tempting offer on the surface, but could also prompt other publishers such as Ubisoft to follow suit.

This could explain why Sony were so quick to criticise the new subscription scheme as the digital landscape enters a transitional phase that could dramatically affect the future of their PS Plus offering, as gaming turns into a TV style choose your own package subscription service.

If other publishers follow suit – and if we are brutally honest, it will only be a matter of time – we could end up in a situation where you have separate subscriptions for EA, Ubisoft and Activision for a total cost around £60 a year, but have a regular offering of games to play and a vault of free older games at your disposal.


Armed with your new subscribed gaming channels of sorts, you could be forgiven for thinking ‘What do I actually get for my PS Plus or Xbox Live service that costs more than two game channel subscriptions?’

Realistically, this could happen in a matter of months and would throw a huge spanner in the works for Sony’s current strategy and ultimately hurt PS+ sales, without giving them any additional benefit or compensating any losses.

My biggest concern of a world dominated by the heavy weights with their own Netflix style channels is what happens to the Indie Developers and publishers that are currently flourishing on consoles? Also, do EA make enough games to support a subscription model?

To be honest, this feels less like the Netflix model that it is being described and more like a rebranded version of the EA Season Pass that, over the last few years, has granted access to EA sports games 3 days before release as well as a 20% discount on additional PDLC (sound familiar?) for $24.99.

Essentially, EA have thrown in the ability to play 4 older games and increased the price by $5 if you read between the lines of this rebranding exercise. If you quite literally want to play the game, I would advise you sell your copy of Battlefield 4 now for £25 on an auction site of your choice before the price drops and spend your money on EA Access where you can reap the benefits whilst also getting your hands back on the Battlefield 4 that you just sold.

Stories to tell your Grandchildren...

Stories to tell your Grandchildren…

Whatever you decide, there is no denying that there is a decline in ownership in favour of subscription and although millennials do not have the same connection with physical media as the generation before them, there is a growing number of critics fearing for a future where nobody actually owns anything anymore.

The digital age is highlighting how the average person no longer has any saleable or negotiable assets, but is this bad thing?

Digital Subscription vs. Ownership is a topic that we will continue to debate for the foreseeable future, but ultimately, things come and go and although we probably don’t want to admit this, everything is temporary, even our own bodies.

Is it a fools paradise to replace physical media with, what is essentially, just zeroes and ones?

As a consumer, my personal viewpoint is that I am happy to say goodbye to shelves full of physical media which quickly become dust magnets, cluttering your living environment. Hundreds of items that were seldom enjoyed but used as a badge of honour in a welcome to my home. This is the cool stuff I like kind of way.

Although I understand it can be a little overwhelming for many, having the freedom to enjoy an unlimited library of books, music and movies before returning home to play through a vault of games appeals to me on every level, whilst also curbing any thoughts about exploring piracy because it’s really not worth the hassle.

However, this is my personal choice, and I am more than aware of other big questions such as “Can there be an economy in which no one owns anything?”

I am really interested on your own personal experiences and opinions on this controversial subject.

About the author

Neil Hughes

My gaming journey began as an infant playing Pong, followed by an Atari 2600 with a beautiful wooden finish. Over the years, I progressed onto a Commodore 64, BBC B and my beloved Amiga 600 before entering the golden console years. It seems that if you write with an opinion criticising any platform you are now instantly labelled a fan-boy but this ageing gamer loves the PS4, Xbox One and Steam all for different reasons but if I see something I don't like, I might write about it...
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