EA’s Origin content delivery service is a bespoke digital distribution system from the gaming industries most prolific development and publishing house. Much like Valve’s ‘Steam’ service, only with a more streamlined approach, Origin is designed to be a one stop solution for gamers where they can browse and purchase EA games, arrange multiplayer matches and converse with other members, natively through the origin software program.
By and large the most attractive and notable feature of the Origin EA service is the Origin ‘Store’. Being able to purchase digital content without the need to own a physical copy means that games are not only offered at a significantly lower price, but are (if your broadband connection is fast enough) potentially ready for almost instant access. Once your game has been purchased and registered to your origin account, it is officially yours indefinitely. This means you’re free to download it an unlimited amount of times to an unlimited amount of different sources (both Mac and PC are currently supported). Origin supports integration with all mainstream home games consoles (Xbox 360, PS3 and both Wii and WiiU) and Facebook and is capable of live streaming of game footage via ‘TwitchTV’.
The Origin software also comes with Origin ‘Client’, a piece of self-updating software, which automatically downloads DLC such as expansion packs, skins, multiplayer maps and (perhaps most importantly) patches. Through the client software it is also possible to chat, swap gaming tips and setup online matches with your friends. Much like with Steam, there is are group chat and friends list options available but these can be disabled if users feel the overlay is interfering with their gaming experience. Finally in the near future, EA hopes to release a mobile Origin platform for iOS and Android devices (smartphones and tablets) that will allow achievements, friends lists and more to be synced across both your mobile devices and your home computers.
Origins primary opponent is of course Valve’s ‘Steam’ service. Steam has been around for a lot longer and has had time to build up a user base so Origin is admittedly playing catch-up. Origin EA has an ace up its sleeve however in that it’s the only platform through which many modern EA games can be played. As EA are one of the most popular and diverse publishers currently working in the gaming industry, this is obviously quite a boon. Origin is also far more streamlined than its main competitor, with a more stable DRM system and a less cluttered and more user friendly interface.
Origin has received a far amount of criticism since its launch. Users have been banned from the service for committing incredibly minor offences. One user was banned for jokily referring to EA as ‘the devil’, another simply for bragging about besting an opponent. There was also a significant furore caused with the release of Crytek’s ‘Crysis 2’ and EA’s own ‘Battlefield 3’, both incredibly popular games that were removed from Valve’s ‘Steam Store’ on EA’s insistence. Accusations of illicit ‘spying’ have been cast at Origin too, as many users complained that they believed their personal information was being collected and used for marketing purposes. However these accusations were rebuked by EA and they have spent the past couple of years making Origin into a stable, trust worthy platform which remains the only place you can play the majority of modern EA releases. For that reason alone an Origin EA account is something that no serious gamer should be without.
About Electronic Arts
Electronic Arts has been the market leader in development, publishing and distribution of games for more than a decade thanks to its diverse range of studios (EA currently owns companies as diverse as Bioware, Criterion and Maxis) and focus on mainstream marketed, quality software. It was founded by Trip Hawkins in the early 80's as a home computer game developer but has moved more prolifically onto the console and mobile gaming markets in recent years.
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