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Anthem Launched Today, Sort Of

Anthem — the new action RPG from EA and BioWare — doesn't officially launch until Feb. 22. But there are certain players that have access to at least some of the game today. Are you one of them?

It depends. If you're a PC gamer and you subscribe to Origin Access, you have access to at least 10 hours of Anthem, with progress that carries over to the full release next week. That also holds true if you subscribe to EA Access on the Xbox One. You can download Anthem to your console right now and play 10 hours before you're cut off.

If you're a subscriber to Origin Access Premier, however, all of Anthem is available to you with no restrictions whatsoever. You can open Origin, download Anthem, and play to your heart's content. If you dedicate enough time to it, there's a chance you could actually be done with the game's main campaign before people who pre-ordered the game ever receive it.

Oh, and if you're a PlayStation 4 owner — well, you're out of luck. You won't be able to play Anthem period until next Friday.

It's all part of a highly confusing roll-out for Anthem that, more than anything, seems intended to promote EA's subscription services. In the past, publishers like EA granted early access to those who purchased more expensive special editions of a game — a practice that, while still a little sketchy, at least rewarded buying the game itself. With the semi-soft launch of Anthem today, EA is essentially punishing those who don't find value in services like Origin/EA Access.

Even worse than that, though — EA is dishing out preferential treatment based on the platform someone chooses to play on. PC gamers, with either Origin Access or Origin Access Premier as options, can play the full version of Anthem today if they so choose. Xbox One owners can only jump into the game through EA Access for a limited time, though, because there's no such thing as EA Access Premier. And PlayStation 4 owners — thanks to Sony's decision not to allow EA Access — are getting stiffed entirely. They'll have to duck spoilers for an entire week now, all because there's no way for them to hand five bucks to EA and experience the beginning of Anthem along with everyone else.

There's a good chance this move will drive more sign-ups to Origin Access and EA Access, and that'll only motivate EA to do this more in the future.

We really, really hope it doesn't.