Origin Access Premier Is EA’s New PC Games Subscription Service

Origin Access Premier Is EA’s New PC Games Subscription Service

Excerpts from an article by Stefanie Fogel on Variety

Publisher Electronic Arts is launching its own PC video game subscription service called Origin Access Premier, it announced Saturday during its E3 2018 press conference.

Starting this summer, Origin Access Premier members can play new EA releases on PC before anyone else, including “Madden 19,” “FIFA 19,” “Battlefield V,” and “Anthem.” They will also get access to over 100 older games, like “Need For Speed Payback,” Mad Max,” and the “Batman: Arkham” series, along with a 10% discount on Origin purchases. EA said people who join Origin Access Premier can also play unlimited amounts of “The Sims 4,” including content from the Digital Deluxe Update, Dine Out Game Pack, and Kids Room Stuff Pack.

“Millions of players have experienced the fun of playing more games through our subscription programs, and today we’re taking another groundbreaking step with Origin Access Premier,” said Electronic Arts’ Chief Executive Officer Andrew Wilson. “Origin Access Premier unlocks unprecedented levels of choice and value for players who love PC games. For the first time in a subscription, you’re getting new games like ‘Madden NFL 19,’ ‘FIFA 19,’ ‘Battlefield V’ and ‘Anthem,’ and full access to more than 100 games from EA and other publishers with a single membership. We’re thrilled to be opening up this new way for players to access great games, with the freedom to play what they want, whenever they want.”

It all sounds very similar to Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass, which offers access to many of that consoles’ titles for $9.99/month. It launched in June 2017.  EA’s service is more expensive. It costs $14.99 per month or $99.99 per year.

Anyone who isn’t already a member of Origin Access can sign up for a free seven-day trial available now through June 17.

Facebook is Testing Subscriptions, but Only for Private Groups

Facebook is Testing Subscriptions, but Only for Private Groups

Excerpts from an article by Kevin Kelleher on Fortune.com

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has shied away from offering a paid version of his social network that is ad-free, for users who worry about their online activities being tracked. But there’s at least one area where the company is willing to experiment with subscriptions: private Facebook Groups.

Facebook announced the subscriptions a blog post that said administrators of certain Facebook Groups could begin charging $4.99 to $29.99 a month for memberships. Administrators of groups that are currently free won’t be affected, although some will have the option of creating subscription-supported groups in the future.

“Group admins build safe and supportive communities that people come back to every day,” the blog post announcing the change said. “We know that admins invest their time and energy to maintain their groups, and some have told us that they would like tools to help them continue to invest in their community and offer more to members.”

Facebook doesn’t allow ads in its groups, and, for now, the company won’t take a cut of the subscription revenue that administrators choose to introduce. The social network’s sales depend almost entirely on ads, a model that has landed the company in a number of controversies, such as the Cambridge Analytica scandal that prompted Congress to summon Zuckerberg to give testimony in April.

When asked during that testimony whether Facebook would transition from ad revenues toward a subscription-based model, Zuckerberg replied,

A number of people suggest that we should offer a version where people cannot have ads if they pay a monthly subscription, and certainly we consider ideas like that. I think that they’re reasonable ideas to think through. But overall, I think that the ads experience is going to be the best one. I think in general, people like not having to pay for a service. A lot of people can’t afford to pay for a service around the world, and this aligns with our mission the best.

Facebook’s announcement today doesn’t mark an abrupt shift from that thinking, but it does suggest that the company is willing to experiment with subscriptions in places where it believes it makes sense.

Why Software is Moving to a Subscription Model, and Why It’s a Good Thing

Why Software is Moving to a Subscription Model, and Why It’s a Good Thing

Excerpts from the article by Seth Wilson on ProtectedTrust.com

You may have noticed over the past five years more and more software moving away from being available for a one time purchase and instead offering a monthly fee service to use it instead. If this seems like a tactic to get more money out of you, that’s because it is, but it’s also for the best.

Gartner reports that “by 2020, more than 80 percent of software vendors will change their business model from traditional license and maintenance to subscription.” So this isn’t something you’re going to be able to avoid as a consumer of software, and frankly, you shouldn’t. As a business, if you want to stay competitive and keep your data secure, you should embrace this change. Here’s a little bit as to why this change is so exciting.

Subscription software stays secure
Recent cyber attacks like WannaCry, Bad Rabbit, NotPetya, and most recently Meltdown/Spectre are big, scary, complex attacks all with the exact same solution: keep all your devices’ software updated at all times with no exceptions. After phishing, vulnerabilities in old software are the most common way for criminals to breach your company’s data and it’s making them serious money. As in BILLIONS of dollars a year from businesses just like yours.

Subscription models ensure you’re continuously running the most updated version of the software possible, and not just the most updated version of old software. This is why Microsoft is even moving towards selling businesses Windows as a subscription. This is the most exciting thing to happen in IT in the past 10 years, but more on that later.

Comes with cloud services now
One of the best examples of why subscription software is better than the old way of purchasing software is the massive differences between Office 2016 and Office 365. They share the name “Office,” so it just sounds like you are getting office 2016 as a subscription. Which you do, you get the whole office suite, but you get so much more with it.

Because Office 365 is connected to the Microsoft cloud, you’re able to collaborate on files in real time. Do you use a file server or shared drive? Office 365, with its terabyte of storage per user enables you to chuck that thing in the trash (it’s what we did and you should too). Backup your files? You don’t need to do that anymore.

Do you have software that tracks mileage, does your accounting, manages projects, provides group chat, shares files, hosts video and voice meetings with screen sharing, manages customer communication, books appointments, etc.? Office 365 has all this functionality, and you can access from anywhere in the world. Office 365 leverages the Microsoft Cloud to not only provide you with the best suite of productivity software ever made, but a solution you can securely run an entire business with. It’s a game changer.

Getting features to the market faster
Subscription software rolls out features as they are ready, not just when a new version comes out. You used to have to wait years between releases of software to get new features. Not sure with the subscription model. When a feature is ready for prime time you get it immediately without any further investment.

Scales better
Only pay for the software you’re actually using. As your employee count fluctuates so to does your cost. It’s less expensive to on board a new hire because you don’t need to pay for their software all up front. And when an employee exits, you simply cancel their user and you stop paying for the software.

The best software subscription ever is now available
As we mentioned earlier Microsoft is now selling businesses Windows by way of a new subscription-based product called Microsoft 365. Why do this? It comes down to device management, and this is what has got traditional managed IT service providers very nervous. Microsoft 365 gives even small businesses truly enterprise-grade device management tools that make once difficult IT tasks easy or simply unnecessary.

These tools keep your devices safe, and keep the data on your employees’ devices from being compromised. If you lose a device or part ways with an employee you can immediately remove just your companies data from that device instantly while leaving everything else intact.

In addition to truly enterprise grade device security deploying new devices becomes a breeze. Say your device falls into a volcano. No problem, grab another one, enter your username and password, and in no time you’ll be back up and running with all of your applications and data how you left them.

Companies that properly implement what Microsoft 365 has to offer see their IT demands plummet. Instead of installing updates and deploying new workstations your IT staff can focus on the company’s mission. No longer worried about keeping you up and running but where you’re running to.

If this all sounds like crazy talk, or you’re ahead of the game, and know that you are ready for a truly modern, connected office, give us a call, get a road map, and see how these changes not only bring a ton of value to your company, but can actually save money. We’re here when you’re ready.

MoviePass Introduces Surge Pricing

MoviePass Introduces Surge Pricing

Excerpts from an article by Jill Disis on CNN

MoviePass subscribers might have to spend a little more money on their next trip to the theater.
The service, which lets customers see one movie a day for $10 a month, began rolling out surge pricing Thursday.

MoviePass told customers that its Peak Pricing model will trigger whenever there is a lot of demand for a movie or showtime. For example, a subscriber who wants to see a popular evening showing of the latest "Avengers" movie might be warned by the MoviePass app that he or she will have to pay a few extra dollars to book a ticket.

Moviegoers will also be told when a particular showtime does not yet have an added fee, but is growing in demand and could have one soon, according to an email sent to customers.

The popular movie service began telling customers last month that surge pricing was coming. It's the latest tweak to a business model that Wall Street has been scrutinizing as one that's too good to be true.

MoviePass pays theaters for the tickets its customers use. Because its monthly rate is priced so low, the company loses money when its customers use a pass.

Parent company Helios and Matheson (HMNY) is now running out of money. The firm recently revealed in government filings that it blew through $40 million operating MoviePass in May. By the end of that month, the company had only $18.5 million in cash on hand, plus $30.3 million in accounts receivable.

Earlier this week, Helios and Matheson told government regulators that it wants to sell $1.2 billion in stock and debt securities as a way to raise money. The company's stock closed at 19 cents a share Thursday.

MoviePass recently passed 3 million subscribers, and is trying to draw in more as part of its plan to stay afloat. Executives want to reach 5 million members by the end of the year, a number they say should help make the business profitable.

In a statement Thursday, MoviePass said that it is still in a testing period with surge pricing, which will roll out to all subscribers over the next few weeks. To start, it said members can expect a fee of between $2 and $6. Members on an annual or quarterly plan won't have to pay surge pricing until they renew their subscription.

In a post on its website, MoviePass painted the new model as one that would allow it to "continue offering our low monthly rate for a movie a day."

The company also took a jab at competitors like AMC Theaters, which recently revealed a $20 a month movie ticket service plan. By keeping the $10-a-month plan as its base offering, MoviePass said its customers "still get the best deal possible."

The company added that it will soon allow all of its users to waive a peak fee once each month.


Thanks to California, a news site (or other business) now has to let you cancel your subscription online

Thanks to California, a news site (or other business) now has to let you cancel your subscription online.

Excerpts from an article by Shan Wang in Nieman Lab

A California law that went into effect July 1 aims to stop companies from blockading customers looking to cancel their services — along with the practice of sneakily sliding them into another month’s subscription without much clarity on the real, full cost of the service. Among the changes: It bans companies from forcing you to, say, call a hard-to-find telephone number to cancel a subscription that you purchased online.

And while it’s just a California law, it also applies to any company (or publisher) with paying customers in the state — so, pretty much everybody, GDPR-style. (Credit/blame State Sen. Bob Hertzberg, the bill’s sponsor, for the new rules.)

Ryan Nakashima, an AP technology writer who’s been conducting some adblocking and subscriptions research at the Bay Area News Group in California, mentioned to me that in an exit survey of people who were canceling their subscriptions, some cancelers had also called out the cancellation process itself. These are real complaints that the new bill will try to address.

The text of the bill also notes that “a consumer who accepts an automatic renewal or continuous service offer online shall be allowed to terminate the automatic renewal or continuous service exclusively online, which may include a termination email formatted and provided by the business that a consumer can send to the business without additional information.”

Read the full article on Neiman Lab.