Two ways to do a content subscription service

Those of you who’ve been paying careful attention to Electronic Arts, and really you have no excuse not to, would know they’re pretty interested in this whole internet thing and how it could be leveraged to provide a constant revenue stream from increasingly dependent consumers. They’ve been pulling their games from Steam and relaunched Origin, the developer of Ultima they purchased a decade ago, as a digital distribution client, the only place to buy new multi million dollar MMO: Star Wars: The Old Republic. And then they ruined my birthday by announcing a subscription service to their sports games.

Now here’s what EA are planning to do.

  • The privilege of downloading their sports games a few days before EB Games put it on display and slap pre-owned stickers on last year’s edition.
  • Discounts on downloadable content, including on disc DLC.
  • Permission to use that purchased content on future roster updates.
  • Stats recorded on a webpage that you can browse with your internet communication gizmo.
  • A little badge so everyone knows you’re an idiot paying for the above.

I know right, some sort of joke. The very fact that EA’s offering, if I can indulge you and call it that, can be summarised down to five bulletpoints shows you everything wrong with their approach. You can’t summarise Xbox Live or Steam in 5 dot points and you shouldn’t be able to summarise EA’s either. If EA want to charge a subscription then they have to at least be on that level, offer a service of their own on the scale of Xbox Live. They’re a big company and their sport games cater to a big market – they can do it. God knows they want to do it but they’re too cowardly to try. The next few paragraphs I’m going to envision how they should run a subscription service that fosters the kind of sycophantic devotees, who’ll maintain their subscriptions indefinitely.

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