Searching for Value in the EA Sports Season Ticket
There have been rumors and leaks about a new program that Electronic Arts was preparing that would give fans of their sports games a new way to access content and updates via some sort of download pass. Nothing was ever made official, but surveys and more worked themselves around the web, looking for what consumers would want from said EA Pass program. Well, the EA Sports Season Ticket is finally live on both the Xbox 360 and PS3 today, but is it a value to fans that might be interested in the program? That might depend on how tied you are to the many sports franchises offered by EA Sports.
If you have missed the huge marketing push that started this morning around the web and on Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network, the new program drops in at 2000 Microsoft Points on the Xbox 360 and $24.99 on the PS3. These are the only platforms that are included in the program at the time, most likely because they are the two main platforms where EA Sports franchises are played. The program will give subscribers four main benefits at this time:
- Three day full access via digital download to participating titles before they are available at retail.
- A 20% discount on all DLC that is available for these titles via the associated marketplace. Ultimate Team Cards, Madden Coins and more are also discounted at 20%.
- Free Premium Web Content that expands the game experience. A first example was the FIFA 12 Creation Center content which will be free to subscribers.
- Membership Recognition with a special badge or emblem when you are connected to participating games, and on your EASports.com profile.
- Games currently included in the program include Madden 12, and future versions of NHL, NCAA Football, Tiger Woods PGA Tour and FIFA Soccer.
Of all the membership benefits, the one that has the most promise also contains the biggest thud when you look at the small print. I love the idea of getting my games via digital download, and the idea of having access to the full game via digital download three days before anyone else plays it is huge. I can learn the nuances of the game before others, gain achievements before others, and not have to worry about that trip to the store. Oh, wait, the details state that I cannot buy that digital version of the game, and that I am still required to go and buy the retail version to get all of these perks. I am completely baffled by this point. Sure, you don’t want to piss off your retail partners, but if you are going to have the full version installed on my hard drive, why not give me an option to purchase it right then and there. Save me the gas and the trip to the store. It is already there, so why make me go and get a disc, making me take time away from the game that I am most likely, having fun with, just to validate that purchase.
The other big one is of course, the discounts on DLC items and other downloadable items like Madden Coins or Ultimate Team Cards. I am not huge into downloading a lot of this extra stuff, as I normally am happy with updated rosters, but I can see someone getting a great deal out of this if they do own multiple EA Sports titles and do buy a lot of the digital extras that can be had for these titles. I don’t have interested in all of the titles in the program, so it becomes a harder sell for me, but it could be a tradeoff for other people
Free, premium web content could be interesting as a selling point, but with the lack of information that we are getting on the program right now, we don’t really know what will be there for people that purchase this subscription. The only specified premium content has been the FIFA Creation Center, but what do I get for Madden or NHL for that matter. Without the details of everything that will be available, this benefit could be great at best, and a debacle at the worst.
I would give some time to the idea of having a special badge for being a member as being something cool, but when that is one of the four bullet points for selling your membership, it becomes more telling about the lack of services instead of a great feature. I get badges in a ton of games for all of my leveling, and it does not cost me a dime, so mentioning it as a great feature for my 25 bones is not helping me buy in on the subscription.
Now, I should point out that I have been less than enthusiastic over the years with the EA Sports brand, as its titles lost a lot of their creative edge of the years with exclusive marketing deals and what not. But lately, there has been a renaissance of sorts with EA Sports titles, with more creativity coming from the development teams, along with a focus on making the core mechanics a lot better. I am very interested in the upcoming FIFA title, and my son has always been a fan of the Madden series, but is there enough value to make it worthwhile to myself as a whole.
So where should you stand on this right now? Well, if you play all the titles, and you do spend a good chunk on DLC for those titles, than it will probably be a no brainer. I would suggest that you email support or customer service and ask they why they want you to go to retail instead of allowing you to buy the early full download versions of the title, but it will probably have a fair amount of value for the person that buys all the titles and the DLC. That said, I would say that the wiser idea is to wait a year and see what the actual benefits are for the program and see how it shakes out in the long run. That way, you get a better idea of what the program has to offer and a better understanding of what you will get for your money. Believe me, this program is an ongoing item, and will most likely add more benefits later on, as the program gets its footing straight. As always though, vote with your dollars as to where you deem them appropriate. That is the best way to let companies know where you stand.