Earlier this month Electronic Arts Inc., or EA, announced the launch of Origin Access, a subscription service for PC gamers. For $4.99 a month, Origin Access subscribers get all-you-can-play access to The Vault, a growing collection of PC games, a 10% discount on Origin purchases, and the opportunity to try new EA games before their release.
At launch, the service was made available in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Germany, and it includes 15 games initially including Battlefield 4, Dragon Age, Inquisition, The Sims and This War of Mine. There is no long-term commitment and subscribers can cancel at any time.
The new subscription service is an extension of EA’s online PC community and game store which have more than 50 million members. As the Wall Street Journal points out, Origin Access is basically a PC version of EA Access, which launched in July 2014, on a different platform.
“Origin Access was created to deliver incredible PC gaming experiences at an incredible value while making it easier for you to discover and play great PC games,” said EA in the January 12 announcement.
Much like streaming video on demand services like Netflix and Hulu, Origin Access delivers content digitally via the Internet rather than on a disc. As a growing segment of the PC gaming market, full-game downloads range between 20 percent and 25 percent of EA sales, compared to 10 percent to 15 percent a year ago.
According to the Wall Street Journal article, EA extended its subscription strategy because the console version of subscriptions was popular, though EA would not say how many subscribers it had. It did, however, say that console subscribers doubled in the quarter ended August 31, 2015.
As other media have accepted the digital reality of the entertainment world, gaming has followed along with platforms like Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony PlayStation adopting the subscription model to bring digital access to online gamers. EA is following its audience by bringing another subscription product into the marketplace, and it seems to be doing so cautiously. Despite its extensive game catalog, it is only offering 15 games initially, and it is only available in a few countries.
Perhaps EA wants to see how this product is received before it secures licensing deals and new games for its subscribers. We expect the catalog to grow in proportion to EA’s commitment and subscriber reaction, and we hope EA will tweak its subscription service by considering package pricing for gamers who sign up for EA Origin and EA Access for Xbox or to consider annual pricing, as they have done with EA Access. For now, we’re curious to see how the PC gaming market will react to this interesting but somewhat lackluster offering.