What Is EA’s Origin Access, and Is It Worth It?

EA’s Origin Access gives you access to more than 70 games, discounts, and new EA games before they’re released for a monthly (or yearly) subscription fee. But is it really worth it?

What Is Origin Access?

Origin is the game store run by Electronic Arts for PCs and Macs. It primarily—but not only—offers EA games. Origin Access is the subscription service attached to Origin.  You don’t need to pay for Origin Access to use Origin—you can buy games through Origin and play them normally without any subscription fee.

Origin Access costs either $5 per month, or $30 per year. At $30 per year, that’s $2.50 a month—although you’re locking your payment in and you won’t be able to get a refund if you decide you don’t want to stay subscribed for the entire year.

If you pay the subscription fee, you get all-you-can-play access to over 70 older games in EA’s “vault”. You also save 10% on every game or DLC purchase you make on Origin, and this discount applies even if the game is already on sale.

As an additional bonus, you’ll typically gain access to new EA games five days before they’re released, without paying extra. So, for example, Origin Access subscribers could play a 10-hour trial version of Mass Effect: Andromeda five days before the final version was released.

How Many Games Are Available?

More than 70 games are available in EA’s vault, including big-name games like The Sims 4, FIFA 17, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, Titanfall, Mass Effect 3, Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare, Battlefield 4, Crysis 3, Star Wars Battlefront, Dragon Age: Inquisition, SimCity 4, and more. In fact, the complete Dead Space, Dragon Age, and Mass Effect series are included. Scroll down and you’ll find that a good chunk of the games are older EA games that were created for MS-DOS, like the Ultima series.

Most of the games have one thing in common: They were created and published by EA. However, there are a few smaller indie games that weren’t published by EA in the library here.

You can view a full list of included Vault games on the EA website.

How It Works

Playing these games works just like playing any other game on Origin. If you subscribe to the service, you can download them to your PC and play them for free as if you purchased them. When your subscription expires, you won’t be able to play them anymore—even if they’re installed on your system. You’ll have to resubscribe or purchase the game to play it.

When you purchase anything on Origin, you’ll automatically get a 10% discount. And, when a new EA game is released, you’ll often be able to download and play it five days before everyone else.

Is It Worth It?

Whether this is worth it or not is up to you. At $5 per month—or $2.50 per month, if you commit for an entire year—this subscription is inexpensive compared to similar services. In comparison, Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass costs a whopping $10 a month, doesn’t offer any discounts, primarily offers older Xbox 360 games, and doesn’t offer prerelease access. Worse yet, it’s competing with the used Xbox games market—whereas you can’t buy used PC games.

If you tend to buy a lot of EA games on Origin, you may even save money by going with the subscription. Getting 10% off on a $60 game means you’ll save $6, which is more than the cost of a month’s subscription if you’re paying monthly or two months if you’re paying yearly.

The subscription also offers access to quite a few games. Unlike on console, where it’s usually possible to pick up a used copy of these games, it’s not possible to buy inexpensive used copies of these games. You’ll have to either wait to get them on sale or purchase them at full price. For example, if you wanted to play Mirror’s Edge Catalyst right now, you could either purchase it for $20 and play it forever, pay $5 to play it for a month, or pay $30 to play it for a year. And that subscription fee will get you access to many other games, too. However, after your subscription expires, you’ll lose access to the games.

Take a look at the library and consider which games you want to play, and how much it would cost to pay the subscription versus buying them outright. Origin Access is an amazing deal if you have a lot of time for games and want to tear through the library, while it’s a worse deal if you have little time for games and find yourself only getting through a few games a year.

However, Origin Access does offer a week-long free trial you so you can try it out. Even if you’re not interested in Origin Access, you can use this trial to play a game or two for free, or get a discount on a game you were about to buy anyway. Just make sure you cancel the subscription afterwards if you don’t want to keep paying for it, or they’ll begin charging you.

I personally used the Origin Access trial to play Mirror’s Edge Catalyst for free—the only catch was I had to finish the game in a week—and was happy with it. If there were other games I wanted to play that I hadn’t played yet in the vault, I might have stuck with it rather than paying the upfront cost to buy each game.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.