Electronic Arts announced that its “EA Sports Season Ticket” is available today for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, giving players bonuses and discounts for EA Sports games.
For a 12-month subscription, the Season Ticket program will cost $24.99 on the PlayStation Network Store or 2,000 Microsoft Points on the Xbox Live Marketplace.
The first game to use the Season Ticket pass is Madden NFL 12, which will release Aug. 30 for the PS3 and Xbox 360 and retail for $59.99. Other EA Sports franchises that will use the Season Ticket include FIFA, NHL Hockey, NCAA Football and Tiger Woods PGA Tour.
The Season Ticket doesn’t restrict players without the subscription like EA’s Online Pass does. EA said the program adds content for dedicated EA Sports players and nothing is being removed from the core experience.
One of the big features is that players can download a full digital version of an EA Sports title and use it for three days before the retail release. However they still have to buy the retail copy for full price to continue playing the game. Essentially the download is a timed demo. The digital version will expire once the game releases at retail. Players can begin downloading the game sometime in the afternoon on the fourth day before the actual release. All game saves, Trophies and Achievements will transfer over to the purchased retail version.
For future EA Sports downloadable content releases, Season Ticket holders will get a 20% discount. To get a return on the Season Ticket cost, players will have to buy more than $125 worth of DLC across various EA Sports titles.
The Season Ticket also gives players exclusive web content. The first game to utilize this content is FIFA 12, which will release Sept. 27. With the Season Ticket in FIFA 12, players can make their own teams and tournaments using customization tools in the “Creation Centre” feature. However once their subscription to the Season Ticket expires they’ll no longer have access to that created content.
Players can show off their Season Ticket subscription with a member badge in EA Sports games and on their online profile at EASPORTS.com.
EA also announced that GameStop is the official retail outlet for the Season Ticket. Players can buy the Season Ticket at GameStop and then download it to their system at home.
According to VideoGamer, the Season Ticket is currently only available on the Xbox 360 and not on the PS3 in Europe. EA said it hadn’t yet reached an agreement with Sony Europe.
Kotaku reported that the Season Ticket doesn’t give discounts on older EA Sports DLC or the Online Pass. It also can only be used on one system, so players with both a PS3 and Xbox 360 can’t access it on both systems without buying separate Season Tickets.
A full game trial download will be several gigabytes of memory. For many gamers, their internet connection and speeds are slow, causing them to wait many hours for their game to finish downloading. Season Ticket games will be available to download four days before it’s actually released so players have enough time to download and actually play it. Addressing download speeds, Peter Moore, president of EA Sports, said:
We want to make sure to give you ample time to download it. It’s going to be a multi-hour download, but right now there’s no other way around that if you want early access.
The Season Ticket was rumored to exist back in April. Moore told IndustryGamers that the Season Ticket has been in planning for almost a year. Moore also said that early access to EA Sports games was one of the top requested features of the program from those surveyed in focus groups.
Last week Andrew Wilson, vice president of EA Sports, said players would eventually want a subscription-type service to come to EA Sports titles. Wilson told Eurogamer:
If we look at what consumers have pushed other industries for: if we look at what consumers forced the music industry to provide, if we look at what consumers have driven as a result of television and movie subscription, if you look at us – there’s absolutely a time somewhere at some point in the future where the consumers say, ‘Hey, this is how we want to interact with you: we want to give you a monthly or annual subscription and we want access to everything you make.’
The Season Ticket is yet another digital addition to EA Sports titles. EA Sports games already use the Online Pass, which began with Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 in June 2010. Without the Online Pass players can’t access any online features, including multiplayer.The Online Pass comes in all new copies of EA Sports games. Those who buy the game used or borrow it have to buy the Online Pass from the PSN Store or Xbox Live Marketplace to play online.
Photo by Electronic Arts