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July 29, 2014 at 4:24 PM

EA testing game subscription plan on Xbox One

It’s not quite Netflix for games, but Electronic Arts may be heading that direction with a new subscription service announced today.

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Called EA Access, the service will offer a to a “vault” of games for $5 per month or $30 per year, starting with a test run on the Xbox One platform. The company said the service will be available “soon” and it will be sold through stores such as GameStop and Amazon.com.

Access is one of several ways that game companies are tinkering with the business models around console games to keep them competitive with lower-priced games on other platforms and with streaming game services that are attracting more of consumers’ time and dollars.

Microsoft and Sony both provide “free” older games to subscribers of their premium game services for the Xbox and PlayStation. Sony is also just starting to test a more Netflix-like streaming game service called PlayStation Now.

EA and Microsoft are also dabbling in “season passes,” which give fans access to a year’s worth of downloadable add-ons for games like “Titanfall” and “Forza 5.”

By using the term vault, EA’s Access suggests subscribers will get access to EA’s vast library but that’s not the case, at least not yet. Subscribers will get four relatively recent games to start — “Battlefield 4,” “Madden NFL 25,” “Fifa 14” and “Peggle 2.”

The company isn’t saying how many additional games will be provided for $30 per year.

“Games will continue to be added to The Vault over time, and there will always be a great selection of titles to play,” spokesman John Reseburg said via email. “We also don’t have any plans to remove titles from the Vault, but we don’t have any specific title plans to announce today beyond the four titles mentioned in the blog post.”

Subscribers will also get early access to download and try new games for five days before the games launch. Among those  that will be available this way are “Madden NFL 15,” “NHL 15,” “FIFA 15,” “NBA Live 15” and “Dragon Age: Inquisition.” Reseburg declined to say whether subscribers will get a free preview of the upcoming “Battlefield Hardline.”

Subcribers will also receive a 10 percent on digital purchases made on Xbox One.

Stern Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia questioned whether the 10 percent discount is enough to drive more digital sales.

“While this is currently a test, we see potential for the service to be rolled out to everyone in the next couple of months,” Bhatia wrote in a report after the announcement.

Comments | Topics: Digital media, EA Access, Microsoft

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