Opinion: How Can EA Access Bring EA Value


Since it’s announcement, EA Access has been debated on the value it brings to the consumer. Some of those values can be debated depending on your level of interest in EA titles generally, but more often than not it all comes down to how many EA games you actively participate or think you might have an interest in. Where it is less debatable is that the highlights of the service isn’t the year old free games without DLC attached, but in two areas: The early timed trial previews of games and the 10% discounts to new games and DLC. Here I shall look to see what value this brings to EA.

Lets begin with something that is actually valuable for publishers: pre-orders. Essentially, EA Access is a service that is looking to capitalize on a similar program that already exists at physical retailers. When judging pre-orders, a publisher may use pre-order data to say actual sales of the game will be between 200-400% of the pre-order numbers in the first week, for reference look at this article from developers of Shovel Knight about their planning process for the game and resultant sales. By allowing folks to participate in EA Access, EA is allowing you to put in a yearly pre-order for a bunch of games to all come out. At $5 for a minimum pre-order for most retailers, you’re essentially paying a pre-order price for about 5 games at full digital retail  price ($60 x .1 = $6 savings per game. 5 games = $30 = cost of EA Access subscription) and the inevitable EA Access Exclusive/Timed Exclusive DLC and seemingly the timed trials of games will be exclusive to EA Access as there will be no demos of Madden this year.

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So what is the big deal with pre-orders? In addition, to the expectations they can help look at, many people do not fully capitalize on them. It’s free money for the store’s bottom line of expectations for months until the game comes out and even when the game releases, not everyone comes back to actually purchase the final product. The pre-order holds have an expiration period and once that period is up, the game is no longer promised to you and if you’ve already forgotten about that you’ve likely forgotten the money is in the system there for you. It preys on a bit of negligence on the part of the consumer, but it isn’t an inherently evil practice. In practice, stores get a good expectation of what they can make, some cash flow into the system ahead of time, and they still outperform the actual pre-order numbers themselves come release day.

Why is this a boon for EA and how is it related to pre-orders? If this program is successful, there are approximately 5-6 million Xbox One Users that can make this a very fruitful endeavor for EA. Most sports gamers have their game. You have Madden, UFC, Live, FIFA, NHL, and you also have FPS gamers. The demographics of who the Xbox One appeals to is filled with those players. If 1/5 of Xbox One users decide that they believe that EA Access is worth it for discounts on their favorite sports game, that is a yearly additional profit of 30 million dollars for what will be a $6 discount on the digital purchase, $1.50 for most standard DLC packs, and if it extends to season passes an additional $2.00 per season pass. We won’t factor in those last two pieces for the sake of simplicity and despite what many may think, most people don’t buy DLC (though EA would hope this would offer incentive for you to do so).

Here is what we’re looking at: if 20% of the Xbox One users purchase EA Access and buy one game at 10% off, they’re only out $6 million dollars they would have seen otherwise without that discount. That’s net revenue of $24 million from EA access users. Not to mention, there is an additional measure of profit from cutting out middle man physical retailers and solely dealing with Microsoft’s fees for publishing to their console and maybe an additional fee for display on their store. So take $24 million in revenue, add on the additional revenue dollars from the actual sales of the game itself (~$54 per game x 1 million users = 54 million), then subtract Microsoft’s cut, and you have a substantial amount more actual profit that is being earned off of each individual game release with EA Access than without it.

It would take someone purchasing 5 games at digital retail value to make up the difference between what they pay EA to receive the discount and what uses they end up getting out of it each year. Should someone purchase 5, they’ve now broken even on what they paid to EA. EA is incentivizing you to pay for more games, but also offering themselves a way to pad their bottom line a bit should people not take full advantage of the discounts offered. If EA Access members are shown to be more active purchasers of content then EA will have successfully replicated a way of using additional numbers in addition to pre-order numbers for digital items. It’s a good plan, but we’ll see just how well it works and continues to maintain value for consumers and for EA.

The views expressed in this article explicitly belong to the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of, nor should be attributed to, GameSided as an organization.

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