EA Sports launching subscription service

$25 year-long Season Ticket to give early access to Madden, NCAA, NHL, FIFA, and Tiger Woods games, 20 percent discount on DLC, more.

EA Sports today detailed its long-rumored Season Ticket initiative, a program that will give gamers early access to new entries in the publisher's biggest franchises, a discount on downloadable content, and more. For a $25 (or 2,000 Microsoft points) annual fee, gamers will get a handful of benefits tied to the next 12 months' worth of Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 installments in the Madden NFL, NHL, FIFA, Tiger Woods PGA Tour, and NCAA Football franchises.

Season Ticket members will be able to kick off in Madden 12 a few days early.

The biggest perk in the package is early access to each of the games. Instead of waiting for the game to hit stores on their designated Tuesday release dates, Season Ticket members will be able to download the full version of each game three days early, so they can spend the weekend before launch familiarizing themselves with the titles. However, those downloaded copies of the game will no longer be playable after the morning of the game's official launch, so Season Ticket members will need to buy a retail copy to keep playing. All saved files from the downloaded version will transfer over to the retail edition of each game, should the player ultimately decide to buy it.

On top of the early access, Season Ticket subscribers will receive a 20 percent discount on all downloadable content for the covered games, from ultimate team cards to add-on gear packs. EA Sports is also rolling out premium versions of its free Web-based tools for all of its Season Ticket games, starting with FIFA 12 (existing free tools like NCAA Football's Team Builder will continue to be offered without charge). While nonmembers will have the option of purchasing access to the tools' for-pay versions a la carte, Season Ticket holders will not need to pay anything extra. Finally, Season Ticket subscribers will get a badge for their online and in-game profiles designating them as members of the program.

Speaking with GameSpot, EA Sports head of worldwide development Andrew Wilson stressed that the Season Ticket program is not taking any features or development resources away from the standard retail releases of the publisher's games. He specifically noted that the development teams dedicated to EA Sports' games are just as big, if not bigger, than before.

"When I think about EA Sports Season Ticket, this is an entirely additive program," Wilson said. "It doesn't take away anything that's on the disc; it just gives you access three days earlier. It doesn't cause you to pay or buy premium DLC you don't want; it just gives you a discount if you plan on purchasing it already. The Web-based features are completely new and additive to the game experience, and if you don't want to manipulate your console experience while you're away from the console, you can do it all right there."

FIFA 12 will be the first game to feature a premium Web-based tool.

Wilson said the subscription would not auto-renew, but EA Sports will notify members when their access is about to expire. He also confirmed plans to expand the program down the line to include additional franchises and potentially other platforms. The subscription will also work on a rolling basis, giving gamers access to 12 months of benefits starting from their date of enrollment. When it launches later this month, Madden NFL 12 will be the first game released as part of the Season Ticket program.

EA Sports has been considering the Season Ticket in one form or another for years. In 2008, the company responded to a leaked market research survey on the subject with a simple acknowledgement, saying, "We believe in the future that there are unique opportunities to launch a subscription-based program…" However, the plan being test marketed at the time would have charged gamers $20 up front in exchange for a 33 percent discount on all EA Sports titles in any given year, essentially paying for itself with a single full-priced EA Sports purchase. The Season Ticket program also bears a striking resemblance to a "premium demo" program that Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter said EA was considering back in March 2010.

[UPDATE]: EA has confirmed that while the Season Ticket program will be released in North America on the Xbox 360 and PS3, gamers from Europe, Australia, and New Zealand will only be able to sign up on the Xbox 360.

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188 comments
DeViLzzz
DeViLzzz

Is that for real ? EA creates $200+ in DLC for Tiger Woods 12 ?!?!?!? I have never played that series lately but am shocked to hear those numbers for DLC. Are they kidding ? As for the Season Ticket deal when I saw the video about it I felt they just were not offering that much. Seriously give fans more.

SauhlGood
SauhlGood

lamesauce, you know eventually this will get so convoluted, if your a player that enjoys playing a variety of genres, and buys titles from varied publishers, it will get expensive real fast if they all have their own subscription con, do they think people will maintain 6-10+ sbuscriptions!? mmmno......and if they offer too many exclusives they risk alienating non-sub fans.

bscott216
bscott216

EA, you make me want to puke my guts out! Go eff yourselves!!!!

mjbcfc
mjbcfc

@dlCHIEF58 I have Tiger Woods 12 for PS3 and I'm 100% certain that they could have easily fit all the courses onto a Blu-Ray with no problem at all with room to spare. They possibly could have even fit them onto a normal DVD for the Xbox (just a rough uneducated guess on my behalf) however even if an Xbox DVD couldn't fit them all they could have offered free downloads for the additional courses for Xbox users so to be 'fair' for both consoles however they obviously firstly thought about money money money which is why we face £3-5 charges per course or the so called bargain price of £20 (half the price of the game by the way) for a bumper pack of courses of which there are still 7 courses not included so you’re talking £35-40 plus £40 for the game which equals £80 to get a game with all the content that quite frankly should be included in the first place. I'm sorry but no game in the world is worth £80 especially when 50% of that cost is pathetic DLC content that has reason to be so expensive. Quite frankly it is a bit sickening that during this difficult financial time for many hard working and honest developers there are publishers like EA just coasting along doing minimal work for maximum profit thanks to their gaming monopoly in the football (soccer for those across the pond) and golf gaming sector. Rant over now (sorry haha), getting all worked up about something that will likely never change.

DenverNick
DenverNick

@YoungCardinal I agree completely, I would not pay for it, I don't even play any of these games because I suck so badly at them. But, I can see how some diehard fans, the ones who buy it every single year and play the Ultimate Team mode, could really benefit from it. The main driver behind me thinking this could be beneficial in this situation is the Ultimate Team mode in these games. You can certainly rack up a bill and 20% would be nice. The only way I would get this is if I played that mode on all of these games. I personally think it is just silly for everyone to get so worked up over it when it is not required that you purchase it and it could certainly benefit the Ultimate Team players. Here is a link to the Ultimate Team forums for FIFA 11, http://forum.ea.com/uk/forums/show/45.page, seeing as there are so many posts and users, I would bet they would be happy to have this option. There is one particular poster in the PS3 Store Issues thread that talks about how he has $100 to spend on cards but the store isn't working. I am sure he would like to save $20 on that purchase. Once again, I would not purchase this because it does not benefit me. But it does benefit a number of EA Sports players.

GhostHero333
GhostHero333

Paying for season pass and still paying for dlc sounds like EA is taking all the money they can not Activision.

YoungCardinal
YoungCardinal

@DenverNick 'veI play a lot of EA Sports Titles. Madden, NBA Live, NHL, FIFA, MLB when it was around. However I do not go out and buy the new one every year. Usually get one every 3 years, 2 if its actually unique (like the addiotion of be a pro mode. Frankly, I think this genre of games does not require a Season Ticket pass nor online pass for the major factor that these are Yearly refreshed games. If this season pass thing also gave you a discount towards next years game aswell (say the full $20 off next years too, that would encourage more people to rebuy the same games and get treated with a little extra. But them being in the yearly refresh cycle with these games, to shell out $80 + extra for unmentioned DLC bonuses is just plain stupid in my opinion. (Oh, and I don't update my profile, cause I simply don't care)

DaWarthog
DaWarthog

It looks like EA has been hanging around the Wu-Tang Clan too much. Their Method of Operation has always been CREAM (Cash Rules Everything Around ME).

Infinity_Gauntl
Infinity_Gauntl

This additional DLC / Subscription ERA in video games will kill the market!!! EA, Capcom PLEASE STOP!!!!!! Your ruining our industry!!! We as customers want FULL hardcopy games!! NOT your buy a half of a game and pay as you go to get the full version!!! People make sure you let these companies know that this is not right!!

DenverNick
DenverNick

@CHROMEFLAMIN Don't read my posts if you're concerned with how long it is.

DenverNick
DenverNick

Love how people just give the thumbs down instantly without thinking. I don't see any reason why my opinion should bring so much hate.

DenverNick
DenverNick

@YoungCardinal Sorry for the long post. I understand your point of view and agree that this can get out of hand if not handled properly, but also believe that there is benefit to gamers when they offer these types of things. Who knows, the alternative may be them raising the price of retail games again, or even worse, the end of used game purchases.

DenverNick
DenverNick

@YoungCardinal Finally, and I would appreciate any input from people in the industry, to confirm or deny my beliefs on this. But having this extra money come in truly helps other great games to get made and also allows us to still be able to purchase games used (which is really a big concern for the game companies, they are losing millions). I listen to Underground Hip Hop and can make a comparison for you. Most of these artists do not have contracts with big record companies and are responsible for paying their own way. If I do not purchase their album directly from them (either by buying used or downloading for free), then it is likely they won't be making music for long because they can't afford it. Same goes for games, just because EA has their names as distribution partner on a lot of the lower profile games does not mean they own the game, they just have the revenue to assist the game makers in getting their game out, sure they get a profit out of it, but if they did not have the financial resources, this would not be an option for some game makers and we may never get to play the game that they poured their heart into.

DenverNick
DenverNick

@YoungCardinal I am not sure if you actively play EA Sports games, but they have a new thing that they are all adding called Ultimate Team. I am not sure of the specifics of it, but from what I understand, people purchase, either via in game currency, or, via real money, packs of cards that are then played against each other in a multiplayer setting. Seems like it is similar to fantasy leagues. The cost to purchase these packs can add up and you need only spend $125 on this to get your money back. Being a user of this mode is the only real reason that I could see purchasing the season pass as it is likely to save you money over the course of a year. Look at it on a more exaggerated scale, I am not sure what types of games you play and I see you are fairly new to GS and don't have any listed in your profile. But say that you are a fan of Halo. You buy everyone that comes out and then you spend money on the DLC they release for it. Then imagine that Halo 4 is coming out and they say 'Hey, we are going to offer a Halo Pass for $10 and with this you get the game one whole week earlier than everyone else and then give you 50% off of the DLC map packs that you are going to purchase'. If you signed up and paid the $10 and then they released 5 map packs at a cost of $10 each wouldn't this be a great deal. You would only be paying them $5 per map pack and would end up saving yourself $25 in addition to having the game one week early. Doesn't sound to shabby in that situation does it.

DenverNick
DenverNick

@YoungCardinal I agree that 'milking' a game for additional things to charge for is bad. But this is not what this is all about. This is about adding something extra for people who play these games a lot. EA is not saying here is Madden 12, however, if you want to play using the New England Patriots you will need to purchase DLC, or you get through the playoffs and then something pops up and says 'If you want to continue and try to win the Super Bowl, buy our add on'. Simply put, this is additional content that is not required and was never a part of the original game, but is being offered at an additional charge.

YoungCardinal
YoungCardinal

@DenverNick The biggest problem with it all is that ts becoming a trend that ALL publishers are following. When publishers are now focused on creating extra content for their games for additional prices, when the games aren't even out yet, it worries me that the development team isn't putting all their effort into the base game, and rather to find ways to make a game patchable in the long run for more profit. This "milking" of franchises hasn't gone unnoticed by the public, and we are just voicing our concerns of the common trend these days that their creating mediocore basegames and are patching them with DLC and various other extras to make it more complete, all at the cost of the consumer. (So even though their all optional, many believe its splitting the gaming community into two. Essentially classifying gamers into Low/Mid/High class where only the rich and high class seem to get to enjoy the games to their fullest potential.

ads_legend
ads_legend

Getting it 3 days early isn't worth it. If I preorder from GAME then I'll get it a day early anyway. I don't like the way some of these big companies are going at the moment.

DenverNick
DenverNick

@septuagintXXX Thank you, not saying that I am in any way interested in this particular service. But having additional, optional services available that can enhance the game is a good thing as long as it does not take away from the experience of the retail game. As for what it offers, each 'idea' like this has to be measured on it's own merits. Everyone keeps talking about how the DLC is something that should be included in the retail version. Goes to show how much they play these games, if so, they would know that most EA games have a mode called Ultimate Team, which is a competitive multiplayer mode in which packs of virtual 'cards' can be purchased and used to play against each other. These packs can range anywhere from $1 to $7. It's not my thing, but for some I am sure this mode is like crack and it is good that EA is offering an option to these people to help save some money. You only have to spend what, $125, on DLC over the year to pay it off. It's not as bad of an idea as everyone is making it out to be. It's essentially the same thing as PS+, the PS3 online experience is free, but there is an option to pay a fee and get discounts and early access to games, along with a few other perks. No one complained about this, seems to be more of an 'I hate EA' thing.

DenverNick
DenverNick

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

DenverNick
DenverNick

@Xeogua Careful what you say, common sense gets you thumbs down on these forums. Remember everyone, this is a business, they ARE in it to make money, not to make you happy. If your happiness equals more money, then they will make you happy. People need to stop acting like they would just make this super awesome game for everyone to play for free always. And you'll smile, because gamers everywhere are happy that you, yes, you reading this, made them a free game and it was better than all the other games in the land! At what point do you say, wait..., where's my slice of the pie. I'm not going to lie, I like money, I would try to get as much as I could too. Don't be a player hater.

XanderZane
XanderZane

@banderweir ...or you could just play last year's version of the game the weekend before release to familiarize yourself... ****************************************************************** True. Does this mean EA won't be providing anymore demos for their sports games 1-2 weeks before the game is released? If they are still releasing the demos, but early download is just meaning less. Sure you can keep your saves, but who really cares?

XanderZane
XanderZane

LOL!! EA Sports is funny. That deal sucks. EA's DLC for each game probably averages around $250 - $300. It's funny how they omitted the PS3 for Europe, Australia & New Zealand. What's up with that? EA cares only about money which is why they try to milk games with their overpriced DLC. Most of their DLC should have already been in the game and even if they are adding new courses for TW or new retro teams for Madden, they shouldn't be charging $5-$8 for each. I used to play almost ALL EA Sports game when it was on the PS2 and XBox, but I have changed my ways. Only game I've played each year is Tiger Woods, Fight Night and Madden (every 4-5yrs). I don't even bother with NHL, FIFA, NCAA, etc.. Only other sport game I'm waiting for from EA is SSX. Looks like it was put back into 2012. So this subscription wouldn't be worth it for me anyways. Even if you play ALL EA's sports titles, it's still not going to save you much and will easily put more money into EA's pockets. EA says you'll save 20% of DLC, but they are making 80% if you buy any of that crap you normally wouldn't buy if you didn't have the subscription. The only good thing is you get to play the games 3 days early, but you have to wait almost a day to download the 8-9GB file (especially on the PS3). So what's the point?

Xeogua
Xeogua

Why do people complain when they do stuff like this, yeah it is stupid, but it's ultimately your decision to buy it or not. They're offering something up to people who think it's worth it (if they're out there), but the rest of us can keep our $25 a year and not worry about it.

ZoTrAcK
ZoTrAcK

Just for fun, I counted the amount of dlc for Tiger Woods 12 yesterday night... There is a total of 212$ of additional content on the ps3... When you add the price of the game and the taxes, the complete game (equipments and courses) of Tiger Woods 12 will cost you 312,80$ That's 5 times the cost of an average game... and more than I spent on my 15 pieces real set of golf clubs with bag plus a golf game with a kart included If you subscripe to the season ticket scam, you'll pay 295,40$ for the complete tiger woods and the season ticket scam subscription... so you'll be saving 17,40$ on a 312,80$ game... That's the deal they thought for you!

G1Ga-B1T3
G1Ga-B1T3

And if people buy into it this will pave the way for more EA fascism. If only their customers knew how bad they got screwed when Madden became the only foot ball game based on the NFL.

Neophyte555
Neophyte555

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

gameking5000
gameking5000

This is just another excuse to suck more money out of their customers.

lapiza
lapiza

it would be a slippery slope if every publisher started subcriptions for services, what would happen if steam started charging, or square enix/bethesda.

Santesyu
Santesyu

PTTF I can stream my games online for free no thank you!

Dawg9000
Dawg9000

Man, it's like they care more about our wallets than making actually good video games! Oh wait.................

EABGamer
EABGamer

What a joke of a service. Who is really reading this and saying to themselves now thats a good deal, NOBODY!

marvel456
marvel456

EA-ting all of your hard earned money :p

winnazdaluza
winnazdaluza

if you think this is bad, you should see the stock market exchange in diablo 3 which uses real money.Yeah video games are just turning into a really fun way to make cash , but for who? and what regulations are they gonna be under?

benz1980i
benz1980i

Meaning you'll have to buy EA's version of what ever sports game you are interested in becuase you will have wasted your $25. Just you wait until they start charging you to just to access their online features. Forget the one time passcode for new games, eventually it'll be like World of Warcraft and you'll be subscribing to play games online. Rubbish

stEElyDaN909
stEElyDaN909

I'd rather use that money to buy actual tickets to an actual game... What's sad is EA knows this is bull, yet their going to do it anyways knowing full well that there are people who would actually pay for it.

XeonForce
XeonForce

I hope this doesn't mean that SSX will have tons of DLC, I want to pay full price for that game, and I won't unless there is a full game on-disc. All this half-assed (or should I say "held back") add-on crap is getting out of hand. It seems like for every good move EA makes, they make two bad moves.

BloodMist
BloodMist

To be fair, something like this fits the target market of the EA Sports brand, which is complete and total dumbasses who love buying the exact same games over and over, perfectly.

joshua6775
joshua6775

EA will not get my $25 for online play. After reading this, they'll be lucky to see any more of my $$$ for any reason.

jasonzilla11
jasonzilla11

When you think about it, EA is helping the fight against video games by making crap like this overpriced and ultimately meaningless. If stuff like this continues to happen, people will be forced to stop playing games, hence: the destruction of video games. I hate you, EA.

sleepyj327
sleepyj327

To all who are posting things like "you don't have to buy this so stop complaining" We understand that it is not necessary to purchase this "privilege", but what is most disturbing is the fact that they are even offering this as an option. Because of EA's power as a company and influence it has over the video game industry, this says a great deal about where things are going with respect to how these companies deliver their content to the consumer while remaining profitable. EA is no stranger to "services" like this, and pending the success of this particular service, we as consumers can only expect more of this on the way from EA and other companies.

enoslives7
enoslives7

Any idiot who signs up for this crap should be banned from video games.

berzerk0912
berzerk0912

If this kind of crap keeps up I might have to stop playing videogames.

dre256x
dre256x

@SeptuagintXXX Its not a bad idea at first.. But knowing these guys, it will branch down to other games in there library, if this takes off

XIntoTheBlue
XIntoTheBlue

As a consumer, this brings very little to my doorstep. 1) 3 days early -- Not worth forking money over because 3 days is really a minuscule amount of time. And I'm not one of those "must be instantly gratified" folks.2) 20% discound on DLCs -- I am skeptical I'll be able to get enough discounts to recoup the cost of the season pass. I know for certain I would not buy every single sports game anyway. 3) A fancy smancy badge to show off to others -- That is about as useless as the government. Ahhh, the great thing about being a consumer. I can choose where to spend my money and EA loses out on this customer.

Stonecutters908
Stonecutters908

Well since I am appalled at the idea of DLC for sports titles and I am even more appalled at a $25 a year for the privilege of a "discount" on such content, I don't see myself or many others using this "service." The free online creation tools I use in FIFA, NCAA, and Madden are already robust enough. This is a stupid idea EA and I hope the market reinforces my opinion but I don't have my hopes up. People waste their money on stupid crap, a lot.

alexLmx6
alexLmx6

For that price you could almost get a new copy of last year's game, which is the same as this year's game, except they've changed the text file holding team rosters.

Diophage
Diophage

If you're the type of person that buys a brand new Fifa or Madden game every year, then this is for you. If not, look else where.

SeptuagintXXX
SeptuagintXXX

when I saw this, i first thought, here we go again. But then I read the article, and this isn't that bad an idea. Everything in the season ticket seems to be absolutely extra, and there seems to be some good discounts if you play a lot of EA sports games. I think Capcom should do something like this with their fighting games-- like with the SSFIV skins. For example, a season ticket would give access to all the skins and discounts on updated versions when released.

DenverNick
DenverNick

One last thing, complain all you want, but remember, EA and every other game company is in this to make money. Being in a similar situation, everyone posting on these boards would try to maximize the profits of their business too. This is not something that they just decided to do last week. As the article notes, they have done their market research and feel there is a demographic out there that will pay for this, they are right, this will sell like hot cakes. EA, if you keep releasing great games such as Dragon Age, Mass Effect, etc. (would these or other games have a publisher if EA didn't pick it up? Probably, but what about other great games that didn't have a great developer such as Bioware), I will continue to look at the additional features that you offer me and make an informed decision as to whether I want to fork out the extra bucks for it. Keep up the good work.