Every TV network is making its own streaming app, and every major game publisher wants its own subscription. EA, Microsoft, and Ubisoft have already launched their subscriptions—but are any of them worth it?
PC Gaming: An Embarrassment of Riches
There are several PC gaming subscription services. Some offer all-you-can download buffets, while others are streaming services for which you don’t even need a gaming PC.
The idea of a subscription to a library of games isn’t particularly new. EA’s service for PCs has existed since 2016, and Xbox Game Pass for the console rolled out in 2017. Still, it took Microsoft and Ubisoft until 2019 to catch up to EA’s lead on PC. Other game makers with desktop launchers, such as Activision Blizzard and Epic Games, have yet to follow suit.
How Do They Work?
The basic idea is you download an application for your Windows desktop that houses the service. Most of these apps include a game launcher, a game store, announcements, and social features, such as chat. Once you download the app and sign in to your account, you can download games from the service. It’s similar to Steam or the Epic Games Store, except you don’t pay for individual titles.
Below are all the options available from the three leading game subscription services:
- EA Origin Access Basic: The oldest of the services we’re looking at, it launched in 2016 and has become a multitiered service. The first tier is Origin Access Basic for $5 per month, or you can pay $30 for a year. Basic gives you access to what EA calls “The Vault”—a large trove of games for PC that includes (at this writing) more than 200 titles, such as Battlefield V, Battlefield I, Star Wars Battlefront II, and Madden 19. Also, Origin members get 10 percent off their purchases from the Origin games store.
- EA Origin Access Premier: At $15 per month or $100 per year, this tier adds just an extra ten games at this writing. However, you also get early access to the full version of upcoming games. Basic, by comparison, has a 10-hour time limit on early access titles. If new EA games are important to you, then Premium is the better buy. It also doesn’t force you to pay for a game like Anthem, which seemed interesting and exciting at launch, and then, well, had issues.
- Xbox Game Pass for PC: With Xbox users happily using Game Pass for two years, Microsoft finally remembered the PC gamer in June 2019 when it released this service. At $10 per month, it offers access to more than 100 games. Microsoft promises to include all its first-party titles with Game Pass as it does with the console version. Like EA’s service, it offers a boatload of older games, as well as some newer titles, such as Metro Exodus and the forthcoming Gears 5. Also, Xbox says members get “exclusive member discounts and deals.”
- Xbox Game Pass Ultimate: This service gives subscribers Xbox Live Gold (a must-have for most Xbox owners) and Game Pass for both PC and console. That’s a fantastic deal for anyone with a gaming PC and Xbox at home, as new first-party titles from Microsoft are cross-platform compatible. This means you can start playing on the console, carry over your progress to your PC, and then return to the console.
- UPlay Plus: This is the newest service—it debuts September 3, 2019. UPlay Plus will cost $15 per month for access to 108 games, including The Division 2, Rainbow Six Siege, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey (and older Assassin’s Creed titles), and the Far Cry series, beginning with Far Cry 2. This is by far the most expensive of the services we’ve covered. However, the subscription fee not only covers the base games but also extra content and expansions for most titles. Neither EA Origin Access or Xbox Game Pass cover any of that. It would be nice if Uplay Plus offered a lower-priced, “without DLC” version, but maybe that will show up in the future.
Are They Worth It?
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Ian Paul