EA Games Launches Subscription-Based Gaming Plan On Xbox

Following the footsteps of Kindle Unlimited, another company is getting Netflixified, as EA Games announces its plan to launch an all-you-can-play monthly subscription plan on Xbox. For just $5 per month and $30 per year, the service, aptly named EA Access, will allow subscribers unlimited access to a “Vault” of games that promises to feature all of EA’s best offerings, including Madden 25, FIFA 14, Battlefield 4, and Peggle 2. It is still early to tell if this move would boost the Xbox sales or disrupt the current business model of the gaming industry, but Steam, another major game distribution platform featuring subscription plans, sure can’t be too happy about this.

Update: Sony has reportedly rejected EA Access for the PS4 after evaluation.

Steam In-Home Streaming Beta Launches

There are several systems that allow users to stream games across devices and wifi networks; PlayStation Vita, Nvidia Shield, and many others announced at CES are pushing into this category. Valve’s SteamOS and Steam Machines made headlines at CES, but this In-Home streaming flew under the radar and is only now being reported on. It allows users to stream games from a powerful desktop PC onto laptops and other steam devices that are synced on the same wi-fi network and steam account. It’s OS agnostic, so long as the game in question is as well. You can even utilize non-steam apps like Photoshop on different computers across the network, so long as you add them to Steam. Of course, it’s still in beta and needs to be ironed out before it’s ready for the prime time, but it’s yet another indication of companies catering to users’ demand to access their content across devices, when and where they want it. It’s only a matter of time before this type of media access is the norm. 

Valve Announces SteamOS

After much hinting, SteamOS was finally released by Valve. It’s based on Linux and designed for living room gaming PC’s; it’s also the first big step towards the much-anticipated release of the Steam Box, Valve’s vision for an open video game console. According to Valve, the company has an agreement with Linux to build triple-A game titles that will run natively on SteamOS in 2014. SteamOS boxes, however, will reportedly utilize streaming as a workaround for Windows-based games. The goal is to be able to stream games from your existing computer onto your TV, which will eventually come as a part of the SteamOS itself. Next up for the disruptive developer: video and music streaming. Valve is making big moves that could have a major effect on how gamers and regular TV users consume content.  

Steam Announces Family Sharing Beta

The famous digital game store, Steam, announced a Family Sharing plan that allows customers to authorize multiple devices to access their libraries of lendable game titles. In the same way that you can loan a physical copy of a book or a game, you can now lend digital downloads with others, making purchase decisions that much more informed. Is this limitless, you might ask? Well, yes. Your library can only be accessed by one person at a time, so if you want to log in and play a game, anybody else using your games will have to exit and log out (or just buy it for themselves). The program will go into limited beta next week, and it will be important to think about how brands and companies might be able to promote new games through this system when it gets further built out.