New EA Sports Subscription Service Lets You Play Before You Pay

Electronic Arts is trying out a new subscription service that will, for a small annual fee, give members early access to the company’s major sports releases before they hit store shelves.

The program, called EA Sports Season Ticket, had been expected for some time, but the company is officially announcing the details today.

For $25 a year, sports fans will be able to download complete versions of Madden NFL Football, NHL Hockey, FIFA Soccer, Tiger Woods PGA Tour and NCAA Football to their consoles and play them for three days until the game is on sale.

At that point, the users will have to pay full retail to continue playing the games, but will be able to continue their achievements in the game.

Other perks will include 20 percent discounts on downloadable extras, including accelerator packs and gear upgrades; free online content, such as the ability to create special teams for FIFA Soccer 12 (normally about $5); and membership recognition through recognition badges.

The subscription service, the first of its kind for Electronic Arts, will result in savings for hardcore players, but at the end of the day it is about giving players early access to the games.

“This is pretty groundbreaking,” said Peter Moore, the president of EA Sports. “We’ve been working on it for over a year now and we are finally ready.”

Market research revealed that far and away the thing people wanted most was early access and to “look at the game prior to the general population, and start getting the controls down,” Moore said. “It’s like they get to training camp three days early.”

EA Sports Season Ticket, which will be available on Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation, will kick off on Aug. 30 with the release of Madden.

The one hitch about this program is that EA will have to ensure that the three days of free access will talk the players into buying the game — not out of it.

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