Is EA Access right for you? I’ll cover the pros and cons of EA’s subscription service on Xbox One including the games, cost, and how much money you actually stand to save.
The EA Access service allows subscribers to play EA games from their vault for $4.99 a month (or $29.99 a year). EA Access also provides the following benefits:
- a 10% discount on EA games purchased through the Xbox Marketplace,
- 10-hour trials for new games, like Mass Effect: Andromeda, which start 5 days prior to release, and
- access to several games that are not currently available for digital purchase.
But is EA Access really worth it?
What games are available?
The main draw for EA Access is the large catalog of games subscribers can play as much as they want while they subscribe to the service. Currently, there are over 40 games in the vault with a mix of genres and titles from the Xbox One and Xbox 360. One third of the games are Xbox 360 games that are also part of the backwards compatibility program. The service has the expected sports series: Madden, NHL, NBA, and FIFA. The Battlefield games are prevalent in the vault with Battlefield 3, Battlefield 4, Battlefield: Hardline and Battlefield: Bad Company 2 all checking in. Bioware’s major franchises also are available in the vault: all three Mass Effect Xbox 360 games, Dragon Age: Origins, and Dragon Age: Inquisition. Beyond those franchises, there are a mix of puzzle, action, RPG, and strategy games.
What are the pros of EA Access?
EA Access provides gamers with access to a large number of games for a reasonable price ($4.99 a month and $29.99 for a year). Based on the cost alone, gamers have access to over $700 (based on the digital prices of all of the games in the vault) worth of games. Additionally, subscribers receive a 10% discount on digital EA games purchased through the Xbox store.
The value is definitely there from a purely monetary standpoint and becomes even better for gamers who want to purchase games throughout the year. If you buy a one-year subscription and also were planning on purchasing six EA games through out the year, then the membership pays for itself. If you are planning on buying one EA game, it actually would cost you less to buy a month of EA Access and the use the 10% discount to purchase the game you want. You would spend $4.99 for EA Access and assuming it is a $59.99 game, you would get $5.99 off if purchased through the Xbox store.
Another great (and sometimes overlooked) benefit of EA Access is the ten hour trial you get for some EA games. For their larger releases (i.e. Madden, Mass Effect, Battlefront, etc), subscribers get a ten hour trial of the game that they can access five days prior to the release of the game. This is a really cool feature and can help players decide if they want to get a particular game, or just let them play a little bit early. I personally took advantage of this for Mass Effect Andromeda and was able to get a head-start on the multiplayer. Another benefit is if you are purchasing a physical copy of a trial game, you can have it loaded onto your console before you get your disk. This will allow you to start playing right away instead of waiting for the game to download when you get the disk.
There are also a few games in the vault that you cannot purchase digitally outside of EA Access. Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 are both available in the vault, but are not available for digital purchase at this time. Both of these are great games, and being able to play them without inserting the disc is definitely a bonus for fans of the Mass Effect series.
What are the cons of EA Access?
While there are a lot of great things about EA Access, not everything is good. One of my biggest hangups with the service is that a lot of the games are yearly iterations of sports games. There are the following franchises:
|Franchise||# of Games|
Looking at the table above, you can see that many of the sports games have at least three iterations in the vault and two (Madden and FIFA) have four. Some of these games (Madden 25) are very old and were released right around the launch of the Xbox One. These games technically add value from a dollar standpoint, but most gamers won’t ever touch them.
Many of the games in the vault are sports games or shooters, which may turn some gamers off. Of the 42 games in the vault, 18 are sports games, and as discussed above, many of these are just yearly iterations of one sport. Additionally, there are ten shooters in the vault, which again may turn some gamers off. That means 28 of the 42 games in the vault are either a sports game or a shooter. If you are not a fan of those game types, then the value of EA Access is greatly diminished.
One final issue with EA Access is that the DLC for the games in the vault is not included, which can actually make some of the games hard to play. There are several Battlefield games in the vault and each of them have multiplayer modes with several DLC map packs. If you have these games via EA Access, then you will also have to pay for the DLC in order to enjoy the full game.
Another game where this is a big issues is Star Wars Battlefront. There have been some substantial DLC packs released for this game and many consider the game incomplete without them. If you only have access to Battlefront through EA Access then, you will be unable to play many game modes in Battlefront without buying them individually or through the Season Pass. If you plan to always keep your EA Access subscription active, then the buying DLC for the games is not as big of an issue, but if you decide to end your subscription and have purchased DLC for games in the vault you will end up with unusable, paid content.
How does it compare to Microsoft’s Game Pass?
With the debut of Microsoft’s Game Pass, EA Access is no longer the only game subscription service available for the Xbox One. Microsoft’s service offers over 100 games for $10 a month, but the list of games is underwhelming at this time. If you are choosing between the two services, look at the game catalogs and let the game options drive your choice. Personally, I am planning on staying with EA Access since it costs less and has more games that I would play. Additionally, I already own many of the games included in Game Pass through the Games with Gold program.
So, is it worth it?
Looking purely at the numbers, yes. EA Access is a great value, but it may not be right for everyone. There are some great benefits in addition to the games in the vault, but many gamers won’t use the benefits to their full potential or don’t need them. 10% off of digital purchases is great, but it only applies to EA games and most of EA’s games now are sports games. Also, if you are an Amazon Prime member, you can get 20% off of new releases (pre-release or up to 2 weeks after release) so the 10% may not even be the best deal if you don’t mind physical copies of games.
There are definitely some gamers who will use EA Access to its full potential and for those gamers it is a great deal. If you purchase a one-year subscription and buy five new games during the subscription period, then you will have made back your investment. It is also great for trying out new releases before they are released to the general public. I was able to play Mass Effect Andromeda for a few days before my physical copy arrived from Amazon and it was great to start early.
Personally, I will probably keep my subscription as I enjoy playing sports games and there are some great Xbox 360 games in the vault that I like to return to from time-to-time (Mass Effect) or have not played (Mirror’s Edge). EA also does keep adding games to the vault, so I am hopeful that other games on my “to play” list (Dragon Age II) start to show up. EA Access is not for everyone though, and if you are not a shooter or sports game fan (these two genres make up two-thirds of the games in the vault), then you can probably skip the service.