EA's Origin Access finally arrives in India, democratises PC gaming for the masses

Subscription gaming for PCs, if done right, is the next best thing for PC gaming since VR

As gamers, we've all used to hoarding games (pirated or otherwise) and the digital age makes this hoarding that much easier. Bloated Steam libraries, a multitude of free-to-play games with requisite accounts and installers, as gamers, we're all guilty of the same crime.

We want to play the latest and greatest games as and when they’re released. Sadly, not all of us has the means to spend upwards of $60 (Rs.4,100) on every new title that hits the market. It’s also not always that we extract that much value from these games either.

At Rs.479, Counter-Strike: GO might be a far better deal than the fleetingly impressive Call of Duty: Black Ops III (CoD: BIII) at Rs.4,000 plus Rs.3,300 for DLC (Downloadable Content). DOTA 2 or League of Legends, being free, might be an even better value.

The point I’m trying to make is just this. Gamers love games, we want to try everything that’s available as soon as it’s available, but are restricted in terms of time and money. There are games we’d rather sink a few hundred hours into at any given time, but there are others that we’d want to try just for the sake of variety. I love World of Tanks and I’ve sunk a 1000+ (that’s not a typo) hours into that game, but I do want to try Black Ops III or The Division from time to time. Would I want to spend Rs.8,000 for both games on a whim? Of course not.

EAs Origin Access finally arrives in India, democratises PC gaming for the masses

The subscription model hasn’t really been tried with PC gaming for a variety of reasons; chief among them being a lack of a centralized game library. Steam is by far the closest thing to a centralized game library that PC gamers have access to, but Valve makes so much money off Steam anyway (sales, trading cards, etc.) that they’ve no need to offer a subscription service. The console giants, Microsoft and Sony, have seen some success with subscription services on their consoles and that’s because they totally and utterly control the ecosystem.

battlefield 4

It’s exactly for this reason that Origin Access makes perfect sense for a publishing giant like EA. Their game releases are all about massive franchises (AAA games), yearly development cycles and recycled content. At the same time, most of their games are multiplayer games that are usually limited to EA servers (you can rent servers if you want to). EA runs a closed ecosystem of sorts and it’s in their own best interest to keep gamers moving from one generation of game to the next. Why would they need to maintain a Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (my favourite game in the Battlefield franchise) server when everyone’s on Battlefield 4?

For gamers, Origin Access is a boon. Right now the service is limited to 14 games (Dragon Age: Inquisition is notable for its absence), expensive games with a total value exceeding Rs.15,000, all for Rs.315 a month. EA haven’t offered an annual subscription yet, but even if you pay the full monthly fee for every month of the year, the value is tremendous. The deal is even sweeter when you consider that more games will be added over time, not to mention exclusive access to pre-release games and demos.

There is promise here. If Origin Access catches on, I can easily see a company like Ubisoft, a company built in the same vein as EA, lapping up the idea and implementing a similar system. A chance to play the entire Assassin’s Creed or Battlefield franchise without worrying about cost is tempting, isn’t it?

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