EA Access is a new subscription program that lets you play a selection of EA games at no extra cost, as long as you keep your subscription running. As of now the program is exclusive to the Xbox One, and is priced at $5 a month or $30 per year.
"EA Access membership unlocks The Vault, a collection of EA's biggest games on Xbox One ready for you to download and play. During the beta, gamers will have unlimited access to four great EA games: FIFA 14, Madden NFL 25, Peggle 2 and Battlefield 4, with more titles being added soon," according to the announcement page.
You'll also get 10% off the cost of other full-price EA games, and you'll be able to play a demo of upcoming EA games five days before release--Dragon Age: Inquisition and Madden NFL '15 being the two biggest titles coming this year.
Is it a good value? I'm torn. First of all, these titles are well on the way to being a year old, and in the case of something like Madden that means an outdated roster, stats, et cetera. For Battlefield it means a game that's already past its peak in terms of multiplayer engagement, especially with Destiny, Call of Duty, and EA's own Battlefield: Hardline coming in the next few months. Also, you're not purchasing anything--you're renting, and that's on top of your Xbox Live subscription.
And I'm also spoiled by PC game pricing. During the Steam sale many of last year's biggest games sold for ten or fifteen dollars each.
On the other hand, console pricing is traditionally more stagnant and the "sales" absolutely deserve those quotation marks. $30 a year isn't as bad a value on the Xbox One as it would be on a PC. And if you're patient enough that you play games on a one-year delay anyway, this subscription might not be a bad choice, especially if EA keeps adding more titles--although judging by their E3 press conference, there aren't a ton of imminent Xbox One titles coming from EA.
More worrisome is whether this becomes an industry trend. You can absolutely bet that if EA Access starts raking in money other publishers will follow suit, and the idea of a dozen fractured subscriptions to EA, Activision, Ubisoft, Microsoft, Sony, Warner Brothers, et al is not a future I particularly look forward to witnessing.
You can find more information at the EA Access website.