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EA Launches Origin Service

by William Schwartz

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The concept of digital distribution of games in favor of the traditional method of going to the store to pick up a physical copy, is becoming increasingly popular in this this industry. So much so that one of the most popular publishers on the market are interested in getting a piece of the pie. The digital service, launched today, already features more than 150 games, and in the months ahead, Origin will be the place to purchase and download exclusive limited edition copies of highly-anticipated EA games, including Battlefield 3 and FIFA 12, as well as content from EA Partners including Alice: Madness Returns and 38 Studios’ Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. What’s more is that if you’re planning on purchasing Star Wars: The Old Republic digitally, Origin will apparently be the sole distributor.

The Origin beta is also launching today which will include a desktop application that will be users’ direct connection to the best content from EA and it’ll offer the ability to create and manage a personal community of gamers. Through the Origin beta application, users will be able to find and connect with friends, see what they are playing, and digitally download and play PC games straight from EA.

“Origin is a game service with two fundamental features,” said David DeMartini, senior vice president of Global Online at EA. “It’s a download service for the very best content from EA and its partners. It also offers a social function which, over time, will connect a player’s profile with friends lists and a cross-platform feed that shows what your friends are playing and where.”

It sounds almost like Facebook for gamers. It’s an interesting concept but not surprising given the recent interest that many developers and publishers have taken in the area of social networking. Features of the service will include:

Mobile – Origin will also be available to gamers on the go, with the service on mobile devices giving gamers access to an Origin mobile profile where they can connect and play with friends in EA’s leading smartphone titles, including SCRABBLE and the upcoming mobile version of Battlefield 3. In the future, mobile gamers will also be able to see what games their friends are playing, as well as compare high scores and share what’s fun.

Features – Origin will provide the easiest way to buy and play the best EA content while staying connected to friends. The Origin beta application will offer PC gamers:

Digital Exclusives: The Origin beta application will deliver full digital downloads for new PC games including Battlefield 3 and Need For Speed The Run. Future additions will include access to the latest online betas as well as demos and try before you buy opportunities.

Connect, Share and Play: through the Origin beta application, build friend lists, import contacts from Facebook and chat about your game experiences in the Origin community. Connect with friends, see who is online and what games they are playing. An in-game overlay integrates social and web-browsing features directly into gameplay, with future capabilities to include in-game downloadable content purchases.

The Origin.com website will provide:

Persistent Profiles — Anytime, Anywhere: create an Origin profile to manage your favorite games and friend lists that are accessible from any PC.

Fast and Easy Purchasing: central location for downloadable content for EA’s latest PC titles, with a streamlined purchasing and download process for games and pre-orders. The Origin.com store is also just one click away from a tab in the Origin beta application.

It will certainly be intriguing to see how EA will differ from it’s competitor, Steam, and what it will bring to the table in terms of fresh and original content. Estimates show that Steam has a 70% share of the digital distribution market for video games, and if EA hopes to re-claim any of that revenue, they’ll certainly have to showcase the features in action at this year’s E3.

Source: EA

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