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Regardless of what EA decides to tell the public about their Origin service, we all know that it’s out there to compete with one program. Steam. Steam, for those of you who have never touched a PC, allows gamers to purchase games and download them on the same service, allows a gamer to get achievements, chat in-game or out of game, launch all games on their computer compatible or not, and much more. It’s probably one of the most popular PC platforms that can be download, free of charge to the player.

To compete with this, EA has now come up with Origin. Origin is a service painfully similar to steam which allows you to download many of their newer and popular titles, chat with friends, and claims you can import contacts from Xbox Live or PSN. However when trying to find friends on Xbox Live the following, buggy notice pops up. “Sorry, we couldn’t find any of your friends that also user Origin.” Well there’s a reason for that. It’s because it’s crap.

Origin is a service that EA claims was not created to compete with Steam, yet copies the functionality, store front, and features, and then implements them poorly. In it’s current state, Origin is a disaster. Let’s look at why, and how EA could fix it, but wont.

Problem 1 – It only plays EA’s games.

Brand loyalty is something that you need to earn, especially for a new product like Origin. Telling a user that you can only download your products, play your games, and launch your titles from a new service is like telling a person who wants a burger that they can only get it at McDonalds. If it cost’s the same amount on my current product, Steam, what incentive do I have to download it on Origin? None.

Allowing other games to launch from your platform is not going to hurt your sales, but what will is telling me I can only play Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows when I want to play some Call of Duty. What’s the first thing I’ll do instead? Uninstalling Origin.

How to fix it. Let Origin launch other games.

It seems obvious to you and I, but apparently not to Electronic Arts. If there’s one thing that gamers hate more than anything else, it’s a service that imposes limitations. Well guess what? Telling someone that they can only launch titles that EA has deemed worthy is a huge limitation. If you’re going to make a service that you want to be a destination for games and gamers, get rid of the barriers! Speaking of barriers…

Problem 2 – It’s another barrier to your product.

You know what I don’t want to be doing when a new game comes out? Downloading and installing a new product, so I can download and install a new product. The fact that this is going to be the only location that you can get their games on when it’s not even out of beta yet is, to put it mildly, worrisome. Most players just want to get into their product as soon as possible and Steam has successfully made this a streamlined process. This is another example of taking away options from your players as soon, certain EA games will only be available on Origin. While your at it, why not have them fill out an application before they can sign up. Oh wait, you already do.

How to fix it. Make Origin web based, give us options, and incorporate it into your existing products.

I have community accounts for Dragon Age, Need for Speed, and Mass Effect all of which are EA products. Why hasn’t anyone decided to make Origin a service that ties all these accounts together so that I log onto one of them and I immediately have access to everything? Why not go one step further and instead of making Origin a mandatory download, make it a client that can be opened in your web browser? This would be a grand undertaking, but it would do more than their storefront and a crappy chat system is currently achieving. It would combine all of the social aspects of every EA game a person has ever played into one place.

The final suggestion I have is making it more like a storefront that circumvents Steam. Steam let’s you install games that weren’t necessarily purchased via their service, so why not let people by EA games in this web client version of Origin, and then have a link that automatically installs it onto Steam. As long as this isn’t illegal for some reason, it would eliminate the need to pay Steam, (as they usually get a cut) keep your profits up, and give the player the option.

While your at it, let me buy games in that browser based product and send them to the application of my choice. Perhaps I want to buy Mass Effect 3 on Origin, but play it on Steam, Raptr or any of the other services out there. Give the options back to the player and stop thinking about your bottom line. A bottom line that is going to be hurting because of the following mistake.

Problem 3 – It limits your sales.

Star Wars: The Old Republic, Battlefield 3, and the first piece of DLC for Crysis 2 are a few examples of what I’m sure will be a series of games only available on Origin. It’s like EA is trying to fail. You are going to take some of your biggest games of the year and launch them on a product called “Origin Beta?” Are you mad?

No, they’re not mad, they’re trying to save money. Steam gets a hefty chunk of sales (I’ve heard as much as 30%) and EA is trying to get more bang for their buck. Well they’re cutting themselves off from millions of users if they force people to use Origin. To give you some perspective, at any hour of any day there are 3.5 million people online and ready to buy your product on Steam. Steam has given EA titles great placement, hosted some amazing sales, and been great for the company. As a matter of fact, EA predicted in 2010 that 20% of their revenue came from digital sales, and I’ll bet Steam contributed to that. Big time.

How to fix it. Keep. Your. Games. On. Steam.

Origin is a beta product, it doesn’t work properly, it’s cumbersome to your players, and will have a devastating effect on your sales. Get back on Steam, and come back when Origin is a finished product. It’s as simple as that. People don’t like this product in the stat it is in and it isn’t ready to be shoved down the public’s throat.

If you haven’t figured it out yet I dislike Origin… immensely. I actually see it doing a lot of damage to EA. Regardless I think I know a few ways the can fix it, but won’t. This is a bad product for so many reasons than the ones I listed. I don’t think they know it, but I know it, and I’ll bet you know it.

I guess some companies just need to learn for themselves.

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Posted by: Destin

Posted on: July 12, 2011

Destin has a penchant for video games and sarcasm. He's written for ScrewAttack, Destructoid, and GoNintendo, but has also produced episodes of the Video Game Vault series for Gametrailers, and created, produced, and edited every episode of The Armory on IGN. To put it mildly, he knows his shit.