(This is another edition of , a weekly opinion piece column on GameFront. Check back every week for more. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not reflect those of GameFront.)
A few weeks ago, Electronic Arts revealed Origin, its new proprietary download service that aims to combat Steam and, ostensibly, bring about a new platform war to the PC market. There have been both positive and negative arguments concerning the service, and I don’t think it’ll take much guesswork to figure out which side of the debate I fall on. Personally, I think Origin can return to whatever stinking helldiaper it was yanked from, at least if EA continues doing what it’s doing and believes it to be enough.
There are multiple issues I have with Origin, and I’ll start with the really personal one — I am absolutely f***ing sick to death of accounts. Not counting any MMOs I’ve had to sign up for in order to do my job, I have accounts with Steam, Xbox Live, PSN, Games for Windows Live, EA.com, Kalypso, GameCenter, OpenFeint, and GameLoft Live. Last generation I had … no accounts. None at all. The leap from none to at least nine (I am certain I’ve forgotten some) is utterly ridiculous, and when I hear that EA wants to bring Origin to both PC and iOS, all I see is yet another publisher carelessly contributing to what has become account saturation, arrogantly demanding that I hand over my personal details yet again.
Perhaps it’s bad timing, but Origin is the straw that broke the camel’s back. I’ve had enough of account overload. I’m tired of having to reaffirm my loyalties to companies that I’ve already given $60 to. I am especially cunted off with EA, who demands both online passes and EA.com accounts in order to really lock me down. I do not like it, and Origin is simply one too many. Even if EA uses EA.com to sign you into Origin, as I have been told it does, I’m not downloading and running two download services to get my games. It’s like asking I use two different GameStops to get physical copies.
Not to mention, did EA even stop to think of what benefit this holds to consumers? The publisher has repeatedly mumbled some vague shit about how Valve won’t let it sell us more downloadable content efficiently, but it hasn’t really demonstrated how making us download two digital services to get our PC games is really helping anybody but EA. As far as I can tell, this is all just adding to a problem that has begun to exemplify this generation — the continued inconvenience of customers in order to benefit publishers who want to exert control over a product after it’s been sold. This isn’t about benefiting consumers, it’s about gaining more power over the games they play … but it’s the consumers who are expected to put in more time and effort to make it work, for no reward.
Electronic Arts has tried to falsify these rewards, but they’re little more than illusions. It’s pulled what I call the “Xbox Live Silver Scam” — taking things away from other customers and making them exclusive in order to pretend that a great deal has been cut. Just like Microsoft took demos away from Xbox Live Silver members to pretend Gold accounts were getting a special benefit, EA has yanked games from Steam and is now selling them on Origin, making no actual effort to offer something that goes above and beyond its rivals.
That’s where Origin really fails. EA has lazily grabbed itself proprietary exclusives by snubbing Steam, but it’s not created a service that really offers more. It’s still selling its games for $59.99, its discounts have been pathetic when contrasted to some of the ludicrously cheap prices Steam can offer, and the only real reason to download it is to get EA games, which aren’t really very exclusive when you consider they’ll still be on consoles and a number of smaller digital retailers. There is no point to Origin’s existence — it’s just a way for EA to claim dominance over the things it supposedly “sells” to “customers.” At the very least, it’s an incredibly inferior Steam, and no customer should support such a pitiful, lackadaisical piece of sh*t.
Not to mention the rather dreadful future it points to. If EA somehow manages to make Origin a success, how many other publishers are going to jump on the bandwagon? Will we be expected to sign up for exclusive services from every other publisher? What when they want more control than that? Perhaps an account per game? It sounds histrionic, I know, but can we really expect any less than this from companies that have proven they’re prepared to put as many barriers between a customer and a game as they see fit, and damn the consequences?
You know what, though? I’m fed up with making accounts, but I’m not ready to outright refuse a new service. I can be tempted to create a new account with a company, but only if they’re prepared to offer something the competition cannot. For instance, Google+ gives me far greater personalization options, increased privacy, and enhanced usability when compared to Facebook. Google saw what the competition was doing and improved upon it, hence why I jumped ship. It felt like an upgrade, and so I took the time to join it. Don’t offer me a f*king downgrade and expect me to thank you for it. Not only will I turn my nose up, I’ll be insulted at the sheer shameless gall of your miserable, sh*tty little attempt to win me over.
EA, you run your own storefront, you’re selling games that you don’t have to physically manufacture, and you want to charge $60 while expecting me to love it? You cannot possibly be serious.
Origin is like EA coughed up a hairball and told me to eat it once I’m done chewing on my delicious cream cake. Sorry, but if a company expects me to sign up to them, it needs to blow my balls off, and offering an $80 “Digital Deluxe” version of Mass Effect ain’t gonna do it. Yanking games from superior services won’t do it either. Offering me a secondary version of a service I already have, with jacked up prices and “exclusives” I could buy elsewhere certainly won’t do it.
I wish EA would spend more time working on good games and less time trying to pick fights with other, more profitable, companies.
And that is why Origin can eat sh*t.