EA Sports fans tend to be a fairly loyal bunch. Year after year, they pay $60 to purchase what essentially amounts to the same game with some additional features and updated player rosters. Sure, "Madden" occasionally launches with some marginally new concept – "Madden NFL 12" has Dynamic Player Performance – but a large portion of EA's sport-loving base will confidently purchase this year's installment, predicated on the fact that it has the number 12 in the title.
While EA obviously appreciates your loyalty, they want to offer you yet another way to turn over some coin to their sport franchises on a yearly basis.
Starting with this year's "Madden NFL 12," you'll have the opportunity to subscribe to the EA Sports Season Ticket. Your yearly subscription of $25 (or 2000 Microsoft Points) will allow you additional, priority access and benefits to EA Sports titles – including upcoming iterations of "NHL Hockey," "FIFA Soccer," "Tiger Woods PGA Golf," and "NCAA Football" – in four ways.
First, you'll be able to download full, digital versions of EA Sports titles to your PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 three days before they're launched to the general public. Any achievements you earn during those three days carry over, and it obviously gives you a head-start on anyone who isn't a Season Ticket subscriber; that's the good part. The bad part? After the three days is up, EA deactivates your digital download and you'll have to go buy the retail version. Conveniently, GameStop is noted in EA's press release as the "exclusive retail marketing partner" of the Season Ticket scheme.
After you've paid to play a three-day demo, you'll receive discounts during the life of the game, e.g. until the next game comes out in a year. The Season Ticket grants a 20-percent discount on all downloadable-content. There's also "free" premium web content available, like the Creation Center packs for "FIFA 12." The Creation Center packs – I'm assuming this will eventually extend to other EA Sports titles – allows you deeper customization options and tournament organization.
Lastly, there's the all-important bragging rights. Everyone who subscribes to Season Ticket will have an "exclusive membership recognition badge" attached to their in-game and web profiles.
My main issue with the Season Ticket, beyond the fact that EA could have just as easily turned this into a free loyalty program, is that the downloadable games deactivate after three days. You'll have literally downloaded the entire game; EA couldn't just pull the trigger and let you enjoy not purchasing a disc from their "exclusive retail partner?" I just answered my own question, but whatever.