Get in the Game Three Days Early with EA Sports Season Ticket

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Are we now entering the era of publisher-specific yearly subscription plans? It appears that’s where things could be headed, with gaming’s two publishing giants now embracing such services.

Activision has Call of Duty Elite coming for Modern Warfare 3, and now EA is getting into the game, literally, with a similar paid membership service called EA Sports Season Ticket.

Before you get too worried here, EA Sports Season Ticket will in no way charge for online gaming, nor will it try to scam players into paying for basic features that are sneakily removed from a game just to be ‘sold back’ to players as DLC or subscription extras.

Instead, EA Sports Season Ticket will offer its members four specific benefits in EA’s Madden NFL Football, NHL Hockey, FIFA Soccer, Tiger Woods PGA Tour and NCAA Football franchises, for an annual fee of $24.99 / 2000 Microsoft Points. Those four benefits include access to full-game digital downloads three days prior to a game’s retail launch; a 20% discount on all DLC offerings; free premium web content; and a membership recognition badge showing off your elite status to other players.

Here are more details:

– Early Full-Game Digital Access: Three days before a game’s scheduled release, fans will be able to download and play the full version of all five participating titles on Xbox 360 and PS3™**. The digitally downloaded game will time out when the game is available at retail and consumers have the option to purchase the same full game on disc at retail. EA SPORTS Season Ticket subscribers can transfer all achievements earned during the three-day download period to the purchased disc, resulting in an early edge over the competition.

– Discounted Downloadable Content: Subscribers will get a 20-percent discount on all available downloadable content for participating EA SPORTS titles. Downloadable content, which enhances and refreshes the core game experience, includes such items as Ultimate Team packs, accelerator packs and gear upgrades.

– Free Premium Web Content: Premium web content extends the game experience beyond the console to a web browser. All participating titles will feature premium web content that will be free to EA SPORTS Season Ticket members beginning with the premium Creation Center packs for FIFA Soccer 12. These packs provide a deeper set of customization tools and abilities within Creation Center to build your own teams and tournaments, and will be available to the consumer until the membership to the program has expired.

– Membership Recognition: Subscribers are easily identifiable with an exclusive membership recognition badge displayed both in-game and on their EASPORTS.com profile.

EA Sports Season Ticket is available in North America starting today for PS3 via the PSN Store and Xbox 360 via the Xbox Live Marketplace (Xbox 360 only in Europe, Australia and New Zealand), but the first benefits won’t kick in until the launch of Madden NFL 12 later this month. Madden 12 ships August 30th, so that means Season Ticket members will be able to get a head start on the game over the weekend, beginning 6pm EST on August 26th. So yes, the digital downloads will technically be available four days early, but that’s to give players three full days of sneak-peek gaming. The long download time surely won’t leave much room for actual play on the initial day.

The only real downer about the service is its lack of digital download purchases. If you’ve already gone through the hassle of downloading the full game, it would be so much more convenient to have the option to digitally purchase the game at the end of the three-day trial period. But that’s not how it will work. As outlined above, the full-game digital download will expire at 6am EST on retail launch day, so members will still have to go buy a physical copy at the nearest game shop. However, all save data and earned Achievements/Trophies will remain on members’ consoles for immediate career resumption.

“EA SPORTS Season Ticket is an exciting program for our core fans – it lets our biggest fans play earlier, play more and play better than anyone else,” said Peter Moore, President, EA SPORTS. “EA SPORTS Season Ticket is an important step in our vision for transforming how deeply fans connect with the sports games they love through digital products and services. We’re excited to continue evolving EA SPORTS Season Ticket as we listen to what consumers want most in their gaming experiences.”

GameStop President Tony Bartel added, “We are excited to be selected as the exclusive retail marketing partner for the roll-out of EA SPORTS Season Ticket. GameStop is in a unique position to deliver this digital product utilizing its multichannel network. We will continue to work with progressive publishers to bring great gaming experiences to our customers.”

Here is the introduction trailer with more on how the service works.

So what do you think, sports gamers? Is this a supplementary service you are interested in taking advantage of? Or do you feel like it’s just another shameless money grab?

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!