How EA’s Origin Can Save Itself
2. Make Playing Games Convenient
If you’ve used Origin for the Battlefield 3 beta, you’ve seen how startlingly inconvenient Origin can be. For some reason, EA has allowed the service to be designed to require Origin and a browser to run in order just to play BF3. It’s frustrating, and even though it’s not even particularly crazy, it doesn’t feel efficient or easy to navigate.
Origin should not be putting roadblocks up to playing games. If anything, it should be making playing games as easy as possible.
As the new kid in town, Origin is already creating a situation that’s an irritation to players. Another login. Another friends list. Another client they need to download to their computers and all the garbage that goes along with it.
But Origin also brings you an online store where you can easily purchase games, a clean interface and forums and chatting capabilities, just like other online services. There’s a framework of convenience underneath it that EA isn’t exploiting.
Just make it easy to play games, to pull friends into games, to see who’s playing what and whether we’d like to play with them. Make updates happen quickly and easily. Put as few obstacles in the way of the experience as possible. Origin should be as discreet as possible — available when you need it, out of the way when you don’t. This service is not going to be the next Facebook or even the next Steam; the next best option for EA is to make it unobtrusive.
1. Make Gamers Feel Appreciated
There’s a lot about Steam that works well, but undoubtedly, there’s one thing that Valve has executed perfectly to win the love of gamers — sales. Steam has a sale every damn day of the week. Sometimes there are two. Sometimes, Valve goes on a tear and discounts huge swaths of its inventory for no good reason. There aren’t Internet memes in which gamers complain about Steam’s service anymore; instead, they complain about Steam’s effect on their wallets. Steam makes gamers offers they can’t refuse. And they love to fork over their money for it.
This has one very big effect: Steam users feel like Steam isn’t trying to rip them off. In fact, Steam users seem to have a pretty amiable view of Valve because there are days when Valve damn near gives games away for free, or reasonably close. Giving players good deals makes them feel like you care about them.
Origin can make players like it, too, in the exact same way that Steam did. Or it can find a new way — like providing dynamite customer support, or by giving gamers little things that make them feel appreciated (bonus XP weekends in Battlefield 3, bonus copies of purchases to hand out to friends, or special pre-order bonuses that are actually substantial to their games are easy ways to draw people to Origin). All it takes is making players feel like spending time using Origin helps them, not just EA.