The lights are on
Update: EA has added some additional clarity regarding pre-release trials that will be available for a number of games. Each one will be different depending on the game.
"In some titles you’ll be able to play one of the game's modes for a limited time, while other times you can jump right into the full game," a recently posted FAQ document reads. "And since you’ll always be playing the real game, any progress you make will carry over so you can pick up where you left off on launch day."
On Major Nelson's blog, there is some additional detail that suggests how this might be implement for games like Dragon Age: Inqusition. "Starting 5 days before release, you’ll be able to try the game for at least two hours and then save your progress," he writes. "Once you purchase the digital or physical copy, you can use your save game and continue the experience."
As for purchasing an Access membership at retail, different stores will offer the option in different territories. In the United States, Gamestop (Disclaimer: GameStop is Game Informer's parent company) will carry them. In Europe, they'll be available at GameStop and online via Amazon. In Canada, you can purchase a membership from EBGames.
EA has announced a new subscription program rolling out in beta today that will give users access to games and discounts for a monthly fee. The initiative, entitled EA Access, will be available exclusively on Xbox One.
For $4.99 each month, members will have access to a number of EA titles and also receive a 10 percent discount on digital content, which includes both full titles and add-on material. This includes season passes like Battlefield Premium and Ultimate Team points for purchasing packs of cards.
At first, Battlefield 4, Peggle 2, FIFA 14, and Madden NFL 25 will be available. These games, which EA is grouping under “The Vault” heading, are downloaded rather than streamed. As long as you are a member, you'll retain access (similar to PlayStation Plus and Xbox One's Games with Gold).
The program also gives members the opportunity to play games up to five days early as a trial, with progress carrying over to the retail title if purchased. The first eligible titles are Madden NFL 15, FIFA 15, NHL 15, NBA Live 15, and Dragon Age: Inquisition.
Full year memberships will be available for $29.99, approximately half off the monthly rate. EA Access memberships will also be available at retail in the future.
Update: An EA representative tells us that the company has no plans on removing games from The Vault, which means the library of titles available will grow over time. Additionally, if your membership lapses, your progress will be saved should you decide to re-up later.
Our TakeThis experiment has the potential to pay off in a big way for EA. The fee is reasonable (especially with the yearly discount), and using the EA Sports Season Ticket approach to early play time for all of EA’s titles is smart. I can imagine that Dragon Age fans will be eager to get started with Inquisition five days early.
I’m eager to see how The Vault grows over time. This could end up being a better value over time, especially if the price stays relatively stable. This is a smart business move, and one I’ll be interested to watch develop through the beta.