You have to hand it to EA. If there's a way to suck the dollars out of your wallet, they'll think of it. The question is, will you get any value out of it?
If you're a busy gamer who just can't beat a game you really enjoy and need to get back a regular sleep pattern, we'll turn the other way while you buy a cheat code or power-up pack to progress or power level your character (even if we are old enough to remember a time when cheat codes were free developer gags and tools, not a monetization strategy).
But the EA Sports Season Ticket may be the most brazen effort yet to get you to pony up extra money - an additional $25 per year - on top of the retail titles you buy. Here's what you get:
- The primary benefit: THREE DAYS of early access to a handful of sports games. When the games hit retail, the early release versions timebomb and you have to buy them at the store to keep playing. This is called having your cake and letting the retailers eat it too. Or, perhaps more accurately, lick the gooey crumbs off your grubby little fingers.
- 20 percent discount on DLC. Pay... to get a discount? You'd have to buy $125 worth of DLC each year to get enough savings to justify the cost of the plan on this benefit alone.
- Premium Web content. All we know so far is that this will include premium packs of FIFA Creation Center, which let you create characters for the FIFA game.
- Membership badge that appears in the games and on your Web profile. What better way to label yourself "sucker," right? Seriously, you can probably expect some ribbing from your buddies.
Titles included in the program include Madden NFL, NHL, FIFA, Tiger Woods PGA Tour and NCAA Football. The program does not actually begin until the evening of August 26, a little over three days before the launch of Madden NFL '12 (nope, the recent NCAA Football '12 won't be a part of this).
Now, if you play all five games, you're probably already justifying it: $5 per game for a chance to get a headstart with each game and maybe save a little cash on DLC? If that's you, and you're OK with a world where these sorts of passes become even more commonplace, you may proceed to Xbox Live Marketplace or the PlayStation Store and part with your Microsoft Points or empty out your PlayStation Wallet. Or you can buy it at Gamestop, which must be pleased as punch that EA is not letting you pay directly to unlock your early access game into a digital copy of the full release.
Just remember: No basketball or baseball is included, and you're still stuck with the $60 retail pricetag for the games at launch despite your membership badge...