It’s been five years since Sony famously suggested that EA Access doesn’t represent “good value” for PlayStation fans. The platform holder subsequently blocked the service, and it’s only now that it’s allowed the membership to be sold on the PS Store. But was it right about the subscription all along? And is EA Access worth the money on the PS4?
Good Value, Middling Games
With a monthly fee of £3.99/$4.99 and an annual fee of £19.99/$29.99, there’s no question that EA Access is reasonably priced. Much like Sony’s own PlayStation Plus, memberships do auto-renew, so you need to manually disable that if you don’t want any surprise charges when your current subscription lapses. This is easy enough to do, though, and you’re reminded about it during the joining process, so it’s not like any information is hidden from you.
EA Access has three primary pillars: Early Trials, Member Discounts, and The Vault. It’s the latter, we suspect, which the majority will be subscribing for: a growing library of EA published software, available to download and play in their entirety for as long as you remain a member. When you consider that titles like FIFA 19 are still retailing for around £15.99/$19.99 in PS Store sales, picking up an annual subscription to EA Access actually looks more cost effective.
The software selection in The Vault covers much of EA’s library, including FIFA, Madden NFL, NBA Live, and NHL. Unlike on the Xbox One, however, you can’t download every entry in the aforementioned series – editions prior to FIFA 17, Madden NFL 17, et al have to be purchased. Active members do get a 10 per cent discount on any EA published title available on the PS Store, and this extends to microtransaction items, such as Ultimate Team currency. Nevertheless, it’s odd to see older sports titles absent from the subscription on the PS4 specifically.
The Vault also expands to smaller, experimental games like A Way Out and Fe, while its tentpole titles like Star Wars: Battlefront 2, The Sims 4, and Battlefield V are also included. While it does take a little while for the publisher to give titles away – newer releases like ANTHEM, for example, are restricted to a ten hour trial – it’s adding software that is less than a year old, which is pretty impressive.
The elephant in the room is that the games just aren’t all that great. EA has had a rough generation, and while we don’t actively despise games like Unravel, Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2, and Mass Effect: Andromeda, they’re not going to set pulses racing. As far as we can tell, the likes of Dragon Age: Inquisition are conspicuously absent from the PS4 subscription, although software availability is changing all the time – keep an eye on our All Free EA Access Games on PS4 guide for a comprehensive list of titles.
There’s an App for That
While you can subscribe to EA Access and download your free games directly from the PS Store, the publisher has created an app to help you better manage your membership. This shows you a list of all currently available titles, provides a brief summary of what they’re about, and even tells you which titles you’ve currently got installed on your PS4’s hard drive.
You can also manage your membership from the application, and launch games directly. Overall it’s a nice, simplistic environment which helps you to organise your subscription – although it does have some broken links to the PS Store which will need to be fixed.
Backwards Compatibility Bust
You can’t really blame EA Access for the PS4’s lack of backwards compatibility, but it is a definite bummer which detracts from the overall value of the service. While members on the Xbox One can download titles such as Dead Space and the original Mass Effect trilogy, none of these games are supported on the PS4. You could argue that it wouldn’t matter as much if the publisher’s efforts this generation had matched its endeavours on the PS3, but it’s a still a hole in The Vault’s library.
When you consider that the service costs the same on the PS4 compared to the Xbox One, it does start to look like bad value for money. Perhaps more problematic is the inexplicable absence of certain titles, like legacy sports games and releases like Rory McIlroy’s PGA Tour. There’s really no reason for these older games to be missing from the subscription, even if the publisher does want to be seen to be curating a higher quality list of free software.
Try Before You Buy
Demos have become something of a rarity this generation, so you do have to appreciate EA Access’ trials. These allow you to play games up to a week before they release at retail, with Madden NFL 20 being the highlight at the time of typing. You get access to the full game, but you can only play for 10 hours before you’re required to purchase the title. Your progress carries across into the full release, although you can’t unlock Trophies during the demo period.
To be fair, 10 hours is a generous period of time, and you can definitely get a good feel for a game in that time period. If you do decide to go ahead and purchase the full thing, you’ll unlock a 10 per cent discount as part of your membership, which is a nice bonus.
Is EA Access Worth It on PS4?
EA Access is actually good value for money on the PS4 in isolation, but it’s undone by the publisher’s unexciting lineup and comparisons to the service on Xbox One. While there are undoubtedly some great games available as part of The Vault, you’ll need to be a sports fan to really eke the most out of it. You’re also going to have to accept that without backwards compatibility, the service’s software library will always be smallest on Sony’s system.
Assuming you can get beyond that, then a good user interface and plenty of discounts make this a no-brainer for fans of EA’s output. If you’ve been itching to play some of the publisher’s titles but haven’t quite got around to ponying up for them yet, then this is arguably the best way to play them. At just £19.99/$29.99 for a year, it’s less than a retail copy of FIFA 19 right now, and you get access to dozens of other titles on top.
Do you think EA Access is worth it on PS4? Will you be subscribing to the service, and what for? Overlook the lack of backwards compatibility in the comments section below.