As part of their pre-E3 marketing activities Electornic Arts redesigned their EA.com site and announced the beginning of a new digital distribution service that they call Origin. The redesigned EA.com website sports two important sections for all The Old Republic fans; the E3 live coverage section and Star Wars: The Old Republic dedicated page. A bit of interesting information I found on the SWTOR page is that is listed as a “PLATFORM: PC Download”, which hints that they will sell it as a digital distribution on the EA.com site.
This ties in nicely with the new digital distribution service they announced, called Origin. It is a place where you will be able to purchase and download games from the EA catalog, but also, it will allow you to get connected with other people using it and provide you with social networking capabilities through its download client. The first bigger test for this platform will be in less than 24 hours, because all the trailers that will be presented at the Electronic Arts E3 press conference will be available for download through the Origin client.
All of you that used to own one of recent Electronic Arts games or purchased it through, what used to be, EA Store probably have an EA account. This will now be called the Origin account. This points to the fact that Origin is basically an upgrade of the previously existing EA Store and its download manager. People that have already downloaded the beta Origin client claim it is in fact the same thing only a different version and logo. I just recently purchased Battlefield 2 through the EA store and used the download manager to download and install the game. It was not an unpleasant experience, but we really don’t have enough information about Origin to form a solid opinion. What we know now is that they are planning to have Origin be a multi-platform service and that you can take all your games with you, meaning if you change your computer you can re-download all the games associated with your account and reinstall them.
The thing I wanted to talk a bit more about Origin is the fact that SWTOR will be exclusively offered through EA’s new digital distribution service. This means Direct2Drive and Steam are out of the picture. You will still be able to purchase a boxed version at retail stores, but for internet purchase/digital download you will have to go the Origin way. There are several question raised by this and we will try and get an answer as soon as all the E3 madness passes. I just wanted to lay out some of my concerns first. With possible 3 million customers on day one and at least half of that probably going the digital download route, does Electronic Arts have an infrastructure ready that will be able to support such a huge demand? We all know that in the world of MMORPGs first impressions are the king. I am worried with having 750.000 people across the world having problems with even downloading the game client, let alone playing the game. Even tried out and well established digital distribution platforms like Steam and Direct2Drive would buckle under the pressure expected for SWTOR. What can we expect from a newcomer on this field – Origin? I am also wondering how will they handle different versions of the digital product, like Collectors Editions and such. We know how Steam does it, but will things be as smooth with Origin.
After the Sony debacle one also wonders what is the security implemented behind this new platform. We know all Chinese gold farmers will try to get their hands on user information so they can hack accounts or send phishing emails. How well has EA prepared against this plight? While we’re on the subject, will our “Origin account” be the same as our game account which will be the same as our swtor.com account or will all of these be separate (I vote for latter – harder to hack).
Essentially, my concern is that Origin is not something Bioware will have control over, yet it will have several big impacts on how their game is perceived. If Origin fails at launch day or has spotty security these things will hurt The Old Republic although there is nothing Bioware had to do with either of these or can do anything to fix these issues.
I might just be a paranoid nerd and that is why I would love to hear other people’s opinion on the subject. Please leave your opinion in the comments below.
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