EA Wants To Grow Origin Beyond A Transaction Interface


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Too many PC gamers, Origin, EA's digital storefront for PC game purchases, is a necessary evil, especially if you are one of those who wants to play Battlefield 3. That is, if gamers didn't have to have Origin, they probably wouldn't. It's safe to say the same cannot be said of Valve's Steam service, which is, perhaps, one of the most beloved services to come from the digital age. Reddit is a good place to gauge responses for each service, and while Origin has some defenders, it also has many who support the following sentiment:

"Reddit, what the fuck don't you get about "don't buy shit from Origin?" I haven't seen one goddamned positive story about this service at all. Avoiding it would be common sense at this point."

And then there are stories like this one.

All things considered, can EA make Origin something other than a transaction service, one that many gamers only use because they have to? Whether they will succeed or not, the folks at EA understand how improving the reputation of Origin would only help. While speaking to GI International, EA Sports Executive Vice President Andrew Wilson shared his ideas and thoughts about Origin:

"I had the great fortune of being on Origin back in the day; I was part of the first core team that had this kernel of an idea of what Origin could be," Wilson recalled. "It wasn't called Origin then - the subsequent team came in and branded it and built that service. But what we really had in mind in the early days was a service that made your EA games better; a service that made it easy to access games and update games. A service that enhanced the experience of playing games, a service that helped you connect to other friends playing games, and a service that ultimately did that across all platforms, not just PC...

Wilson wants the service to grow beyond being a necessary transaction service for gamers. In other words, he wants gamers to want to install Origin instead of fulfilling a requirement in order to access the upcoming Battlefield 4, for instance. While Wilson didn't offer specifics, his goals for the perception of Origin are clear:

"When I speak to the team now, they're very energized about this concept of 'Listen, the transaction is really a very small part of the experience; that's really not what this is about,'" he said. Wilson notes that you have to have some software to download and install PC games, and that Origin has made that better. "In the old EA, there were multiple downloaders and multiple installers," Wilson pointed out. "Before you bought every game, you had to get a new downloader and a new installer. That was a barrier. Origin is one downloader, one installer. That solves a problem for the gamers who buy more than one game." Origin also makes the process of getting patches easier. "Again, we're not perfect, but we're getting better," Wilson said...

"What you're going to see from us is to have a real focus on that, and a focus on getting that right and getting that better, and getting it done for PC. Then figuring out in the context of other platforms, what does that mean?"

Unfortunately, one of the main reasons people have Origin--because it is required to gain access to many EA titles--is the main reason gamers are against it. That being said, if EA moves away from the "Origin is required to play this game" demand, and allows future content to once again be available on services like Steam, there's a very real likelihood an Origin exodus would begin. With that in mind, how do you improve a service's reputation when such a rock and hard place scenario exists?