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EA’s Origin Access offers PC gamers unlimited access to select games

Electronic Arts, and by extension the Origin game service, is not particularly well-liked by gamers thanks to its heavy use of microtransactions and DLC packs. Perhaps it will earn some goodwill with a new service called Origin Access. PC gamers are able to subscribe to Access for a mere $ 4.99 per month and get early versions of unreleased games and unlimited access to The Vault, a Netflix-style selection of slightly older games.

EA calls the early access feature “First Play Trials,” and stresses that these will be full versions of the games, not demos. This feature will be limited to EA titles, but it has the potential to save you some real cash. When a game unlocks for First Play, you can dive in and see how it suits you. If you don’t like it, no problem — just don’t buy it when it comes out. If you do enjoy the game, you can play it as much as you want until it’s released, then buy the full version and have your First Play progress carry over.

There’s only one First Play Trial listed on the Origin site right now, a platforming game called Unravel. It will cost $ 19.99 when it launches on February 9th. Origin Access members will be able to start playing it on February 4th, though. As an added bonus, everything you buy on Origin comes with a 10% discount for Access subscribers.

origin access

What people will be more interested in, I think, is The Vault. As long as you keep paying your monthly subscription, you have access to all the full games in The Vault. Right now, that means 15 games, which include the following: Battlefield 3, Battlefield 4 Digital Deluxe, Battlefield Hardline, Dead Space, Dead Space 2, Dead Space 3, Dragon Age II, Dragon Age Inquisition Digital Deluxe, Dragon Age: Origins – Ultimate Edition, FIFA 15, Need for Speed Rivals, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, SimCity, The Sims 3 Starter Pack, and This War of Mine.

EA says it will continue expanding the list of supported Vault games over time. Judging by the selection, it’s going to be a similar deal to what you get with Netflix — content from a year or two ago at least that’s cheap enough to license for unlimited access. A more apt comparison might actually be Nvidia’s $ 7.99 per month GeForce Now service. This is only available on Shield devices, but you get a selection of PC games from the recent past for unlimited gameplay. Nvidia also sells new titles via GeForce Now, but it’s all streamed to your device. Origin Access is still a standard download, as far as I’m aware.

The success of Origin Access will probably depend on whether or not EA can add significant content to The Vault. The First Play feature is a nice perk, but I don’t see many people paying EA monthly for early access to a few games when Steam is still the de facto digital game retailer.

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