EA To Rebrand Its Origin Platform As It Bows Out Of The PC Gaming Platform Wars

from the white-flag dept

It has been a long and largely fruitless road for Origin, EA's PC gaming client that it had planned on building into a rival of Valve's Steam. What was originally supposed to have been the chief antagonist to Steam in the ongoing PC gaming platform wars instead is best described as a failure to launch. Released in 2011, Origin began life as it lived in total: the walled garden for most EA games. Critics appeared almost immediately, stemming from odious requirements to relinquish personal information, the use of DRM, and security flaws. Couple that with a game library that was relatively stilted compared with Steam, by design mind you, and it's not difficult to understand why the adoption numbers for the game client just never took off.

Several weeks ago, to the surprise of many, EA suddenly released its gaming catalog on Steam. Given the long history of the company keeping its toys for itself, it left many scratching their heads in confusion. This week, the inevitable occurred, with EA announcing that Origin will be no more. Instead, the PC gaming client will rebrand, rebuild, and become an optional place for EA gamers to play, rather than a Fort Knox for EA games.

EA has yet another piece of interconnected news to share: it's rebranding its Origin desktop app to simply be called the EA desktop app, alongside giving its PC platform a visual refresh.

Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, EA SVP, strategic growth Mike Blank says the overhaul is intended "to create a more frictionless, fast, socially-oriented experience for our players, where it becomes the best place for them to connect with the people they want to play with in the games they want to play."

I'm frankly not used to giving EA a ton of kudos in these pages, but the overall strategy is a good one. The company appears to have finally realized that being permissive with gamers that just want to play the company's games is better business than trying to lock them into a failed client few want to use. The revamping of the UX was long needed, too, but the real star of the show here is that EA is looking to be more open in general.

"All of that is signaled by creating a common and consistent brand that is centered around EA and what EA stands for," Blank says. "And what signals it is this inflection about how EA stands for bringing your players together around the games they want to play on the platforms they want to play on. So yeah, it's not just a name change. It really signals an ethos that is critically important to us and that we know that's important to our players.

It's been a long journey for EA in this regard to where our games show up and where they don't. One of the things that we value is democratizing gaming, which is: how do you enable more people to play? And how do you make it easy for them to do so? And by bringing our games to Steam, we are doing just that. So whether we were there in the past or not, I look towards the future. And what I think today is that we are stronger and healthier. And I think we're responding more effectively to the needs of our players today than we ever have, and Steam is part of that journey."

Again, this is EA we're talking about, so it's going to take more than just the right words to convince most of us that this truly is a new direction for the company. Still, these are the right words. EA has long built a reputation for itself as being anti-consumer in many ways, but all of those ways come down to one thing: control. For a company with that history to suddenly start giving up that control, not out of surrender but out of a belief that it's good business, is a positive step.

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Filed Under: origin, pc games, steam, video games
Companies: ea


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  1. identicon
    Rekrul, 21 Sep 2020 @ 11:19am

    Re: Getting banned from Steam

    That's actually a good question. I've since purchased an extensive library. In the Aughts, their rules required them to pay me back for the licenses I lost. I don't know if its the same.

    I seem to recall reading about a user who offered his Steam account and all the games associated with it for sale, and Valve deactivated his account and "bricked" all his games. I think it was eventually reactivated after he claimed that he was just asking how much people would pay out of curiosity and not actually offering to sell it. This was a few years ago.

    It's been around a decade since brick-and-mortar franchises sold used PC games in stores around here, but I did enjoy checking the stacks when I could.

    There's still one store around here: Retro Games Plus. There are two locations of it, although one is quite a distance away. They don't have a huge selection, for any system really, but they have a little of everything. I've even seen games for the Vic-20, TI99/4A and Atari 400/800 there. I once bought a bunch of used Windows games, but I ended up returning one of them after looking it up online and seeing that it required a Steam account. This fact wasn't mentioned on the back of the package. They took it back because they were aware of how some games can only be activated once.

    Personally, I love it when there's a source port for an older game and you can just unpack the archive, copy over the data files and launch the game without even needing to run the installer. I wish all games were like that.


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