Electronic Arts is launching a new EA desktop app, a beta version of its revamped Origin online gaming service, which EA is calling the next generation PC gaming platform. But it’s just one more app among many in the subscription-loving video game business today.
EA said the service will have faster downloads and updates, easier access to games, and the ability to connect with friends across platforms. Players use the EA Desktop app to access subscriptions like the newly renamed EA Play ($ 5 per month) and EA Play Pro ($ 15 per month).
This is yet another example of EA getting rid of some older brands like Origin and taking care of its own abbreviated name and the gamer-centric EA Play brand. On August 1
“The EA desktop app is designed to provide a smooth, socially connected experience that allows players to get into their games faster,” said Michael Blank, EA senior vice president, in an interview with GamesBeat. “We revealed some of it, but we didn’t reveal all of it.”
The new app promises a faster experience, fewer clicks to return to your favorite games, and playtime controls that let you monitor how much time you and your family spend playing. You should find it easier to find and install new games, or just play through your EA Play membership, Blank said.
EA is also introducing new benefits for EA Play and EA Play Pro subscribers. Anyone can register for the beta, and EA will send out download invitations based on availability. If you are an Origin gamer, your games, progress, and friends will be carried over. You retain full access to all of your Origin content.
Blank leads a team at EA called EAX that creates products that connect players and connect them to their games. It’s a team responsible for making all of EA’s games playable wherever players want to play them and making sure that the games are cross-play at a time when games like Fortnite have driven such changes , Cross-progression and cross-generation work. In the long term, EA wants its games to be platform independent.
“This move is in line with the strategy of helping players play our games more effectively,” said Blank. “And the things you see in the market, like our EA Play game subscriptions, are meant to help break down game barriers. You will find that more and more of our games are cross-play capable, not just games in the portfolio that are moving towards cross-play, but also games that will be cross-play by default. “
Epic Games is one step ahead with its Fortnite game that allows people to play with each other on PC, consoles and mobile devices (excluding iOS over a legal battle between Epic and Apple).
“We had these different names. The reality is that they are all aimed at the same goal, which is to help our players play, ”said Blank. “It just made sense to bring the brand together under one brand experience, namely EA Play.”
EA Play Pro is the top tier where players can play games on subscription the same day those games are launched. EA Play, meanwhile, offers access to older games.
We are subscriptions
If you’re wondering what the big rage about gaming subscriptions is, everyone wants to create the Netflix of Gaming. It helps in new game discovery as players try more games when the cost of doing them drops to zero.
“What subscriptions offer is a way for people to try games that they may never have tried,” said Blank. “In many cases, the barrier for them to play a game that they may want to play continuously and for which they may have to pay a much higher price annually is reduced. You might buy a game in a year, but then not the new version of that game the next year because it is expensive to keep buying games. We care about giving players great experiences. We value their engagement time and the more opportunities we can offer them to play the game, the more beneficial the relationship between them and us. “
Subscriptions can also “energize” players by giving them access to a title before others can, Blank said.
“Players would only be able to access this game if they were offered it that way,” he said. “It’s a little hard to predict what will come to the fore. I think a subscription plays a very important role. That is why we continue to invest in them. That’s why Microsoft invests in them. Therefore, virtually every platform company invests in the company because it is valuable for a company to do so. “
The Origin name has been around since EA bought Richard Garriott’s Ultima Studio in 1992. EA closed this studio in 2004. In 2011, the company launched its online game service Origin as its own platform for distributing digital games. It was EA’s rival to Valve’s Steam service.
“It was less about the Origin name and more about how we are on a journey to give players the choice of how to play,” said Blank. “Maintaining a variety of brands” no longer serves EA or its players, he said.
Crossplay and more
EA tries to create as many connection points as possible in its games, even if it doesn’t allow cross-play, cross-progression and cross-generation play in every game.
“When you have a similar gaming experience on multiple different devices, it’s important that those players can play together,” said Blank. “We know that players are switching between different platforms and that a new generation of consoles is coming out. The Switch has become a leading platform, and people might own another console too. “
In some EA games, players can be on different platforms and still play against each other. Apex Legends players can enjoy crossplay on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch (this fall), and Windows PC. Cross-progression, where you can switch from one platform to another and access the same game level, is not yet supported.
“One of the things we’re doing here is centralizing a common brand,” said Blank. “The vision is to connect players in an EA ecosystem, be it through EA Play on the EA desktop app or otherwise, to make it smooth and convenient.”
EA recently made EA games available on Valve’s Steam service as well as on the Microsoft Xbox Game Pass service at no additional cost.
According to Blank, gamers are demanding this kind of world as they have seen with services like Netflix or Spotify that run on almost any device. You want games to work like other entertainment subscriptions.
“The experience of playing is fluid and it doesn’t start or end the way it used to,” said Blank. “Whether you’re playing on a mobile device, PC or console, or playing in the cloud or playing on a subscription, gamers are demanding a more seamless, connected ecosystem.”
I asked if we were anywhere near EA to write a game once and run it on every platform.
“We’re not there yet,” said Blank. “If everyone could agree on one technology, it would work. But that’s not how the world works. “