The EA Sports Season Ticket

August 11, 2011, Author: Phil Ubee

Last week, EA Sports announced the release of a new premium subscription service called the EA Sports Season Ticket. The Season Ticket will set punters back 2000MP or $24.99, depending on whether you game on Xbox 360 or PS3, and promises to “let our biggest fans play earlier, play more and play better than anyone else”, Peter Moore, President of EA Sports said. He went on to say “EA Sports Season Ticket is an important step in our vision for transforming how deeply fans connect with the sports games they love through digital products and services” at the launch.

With new services and subscriptions being introduced by publishers looking to claim back profit from second-hand sales, while trying to find an answer to the number of gamers who think release day purchases are a waste when the same title can be found £10 or more cheaper within weeks, the question begs: What does this mean to the everyday gamer?

Looking at the press release from EA Sports, the list of perks that your money will get you is somewhat mixed, they include:

  • Early Full-Game Digital Access: Three days before a game’s scheduled release, fans will be able to download and play the full version of all participating titles. After three days, the digitally downloaded game will time out and consumers have the option to purchase the same full game on disc at retail. EA SPORTS Season Ticket subscribers can transfer all achievements earned during the three-day download period to the purchased disc, resulting in an early edge over the competition.
  • Discounted Downloadable Content: Subscribers will get a 20-percent discount on all available downloadable content for participating EA SPORTS titles. Downloadable content, which enhances and refreshes the core game experience, includes such items as Ultimate Team packs, accelerator packs and gear upgrades.
  • Free Premium Web Content: Premium web content extends the game experience beyond the console to a web browser. All participating titles will feature premium web content that will be free to EA SPORTS Season Ticket members beginning with the premium Creation Centre packs for FIFA 12. These packs provide a deeper set of customization tools and abilities within Creation Centre to build your own teams and tournaments, and will be available to the consumer until the membership to the program has expired.
  • Membership Recognition: Subscribers are easily identifiable with an exclusive membership recognition badge displayed both in-game and on their EASports.com profile.

The obvious stand-out selling point here is early access to the games we love. I know a fair few people who will be excited by the opportunity to get their hands on FIFA or Madden a few days early, me included. It also gives gamers a better chance of seeing just what the latest edition of the big sports franchises have to offer to help them decide if a full purchase is worth the cash.

I can see a potential plus-point here. You could get the three days early play-testing, pick up some of the achievements, earn some in-game XP in preparation for release, and then still leave it a few weeks after release to get the full game slightly at the slightly cheaper rate that we see on the internet these days. The fact you’ve earned a bit before-hand means you will start level at least, rather than being a bit shorthanded to those release day purchasers.

Get FIFA three days early...

That alone is certainly not worth the £20 a year subscription, though if you do purchase two of the selected titles; FIFA, Madden, Tiger Woods, NHL and NCAA on a yearly basis you will get your subscription fee back in no time. However this is just the tip of the iceberg from EA Sports, as the second focus point of the season ticket gets you a 20% discount on all downloadable content for any of the games. Considering I know many a FIFA player who can blow £20 in two weeks on Ultimate Team player packs, the discount itself is also a good selling point.

Some of the DLC us sports fans have come to expect from EA Sports big franchises include commentary packs, new courses on Tiger Woods and Ultimate Team packs for Madden and FIFA. These soon add up if you go for that sort of thing, so I can certainly see those who do dabble with this content making their money back in a year without too much trouble.

The Premium Web Content is an area that will again appeal to some, though personally I’m against charging for this. EA Sports say that the web content, such as the upcoming creation centre in FIFA 12 will be available to all, at a cost. Season Ticket holders will have this included in their subscription fee, but despite the promise of an overhaul to last year’s creation centre I’m still not convinced this is worth any fee. Especially not when the chief competition, PES, has a full editor mode as standard.

Details of web content for the other titles is not quite so easy to pin down, which does give me cause for concern as to what exactly it will include, how much it will cost without the Season Ticket and whether anyone will want it in the first place.

The final part of the package is the promise of an identifying marker, or badge, next to your gamertag and on EA Sports.com so you can be seen as a die-hard fan by all. Well, strike me down if that isn’t the clincher, I mean really, that smacks of desperation so much that I’m going to ignore it’s even there.

Madden 12 Ultimate Team packs will be 20% off.

Overall, I do think there is some value for money here; the subscription fee can easily be repaid if you regularly buy DLC, and those FIFA players that enjoy the Adidas Live Season add-on, again, can easily get their money back here. The bottom line is that the Season Ticket doesn’t entitle you to this stuff for free, so if you don’t get the DLC normally or only purchase the odd player pack here and there you wont make any savings over the year and are basically paying for something you don’t use.

As someone who does regularly play and purchase several EA Sports titles each year, the three-day early option is tempting but again all this ultimately does is give me a bigger demo at the end of the day, and demos are (at this point) still free.

I will also argue that as with online passes before it, us Xbox Live subscribers, to some degree, already pay for services that PS3 owners get free and certainly with the Online Pass I feel we are paying twice for the same access. I would have liked to see EA Sports include a blanket online pass as part of the season ticket and think this would put paid to the doubters who think this is just another way of ripping us gamers off.

To be honest I wont be rushing out to get an EA Sports Season Ticket any time soon, but I will look at what the Web content contains in the next round of releases to see if it would improve my experience enough to tip the balance. As it stands I would say that it is strictly for those of you who will buy DLC or purchase player packs in Ultimate Team, rather than earning them.