EA launches digital download service, Star Wars: Old Republic confirmed for 2011

[UPDATE] E3 2011: Megapublisher launches Steam-like store to sell 150-plus games directly and offer social networking; will be sole online seller of Star Wars MMORPG "later this year."

[UPDATE] Since this story went live, EA has launched its Origin service via a new online store. As outlined in the original article below, the Origin store will offer a large catalog of EA games for digital download, but it will also allow players to order boxed copies. Origin is a full-on replacement for the EA Store, as it offers retail games on every other major platform besides the PC. Old store.ea.com Web addresses now redirect to Origin.com.

EA also confirmed Origin will indeed be the sole online seller of Star Wars: The Old Republic when the game launches "later this year." The service's desktop client is available now in beta form from www.origin.com. With it, "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," the company said in a statement.

The original article is below. [END UPDATE]

Though Electronic Arts' Electronic Entertainment Expo press conference isn't until Monday at 12:30 p.m. PDT, the Wall Street Journal has preempted a major announcement by the megapublisher. The financial daily is reporting that EA is planning to soon unveil Origin, a new PC game-download service along the lines of Valve Software's Steam. The name appears unrelated to Origin Systems, the Ultima and Wing Commander developer EA bought in 1992 and then closed in 2004.

EA plans to greatly expand its digital download retail offerings with its Origin service.

According to the Journal, Origin will function like Steam, insofar that it will let gamers directly purchase, download, and organize PC titles. The service will start out with a catalog over 150 offerings when it launches and will be the sole online purveyor of Star Wars: The Old Republic when that game goes online (presumably) later this year. The publisher is reportedly hoping the exclusive availability of the eagerly awaited sci-fi massively multiplayer online role-playing game will boost the nascent service's popularity.

Like Activision's just-announced Call of Duty: Elite service, Origin will also reportedly have a strong social networking element that will allow players to communicate about their game experiences across a variety of devices via a single profile. Also like Elite, Origin will reportedly let players perform actions on mobile or other platforms that affect full-fledged games. David DeMartini, EA's senior vice president of global online, gave the example of a sharp-shooting "Battlefield" minigame on a mobile phone yielding experience points that could be used in the regular version of a Battlefield game. (Curiously, the full-fledged platform mentioned was the Xbox 360, not the PC.)

EA CEO John Riccitiello told the Journal that Origin is one of the "cornerstones" of EA's digital strategy. That tack has been paying dividends for the company, which saw $833 million in digital revenue during the fiscal year that ended on March 31, 2011--over 20 percent of EA's overall earnings. A good chunk of that came from Playfish, the social-networking and casual game publisher that EA bought in 2009 for over $275 million. Other sources of digital revenue include EA's various Facebook games, such as Dragon Age Legends, as well as the publisher's current direct-to-consumer digital download presence, the EA Store.

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Discussion

137 comments
jockie_chan
jockie_chan

Competition is good for the prices. I'm sick of paying the same amount of money for digital purchase as a physical purchase (that involves many other costs for publishers). But then again, i don't see EA's store to be offering a competition to steam's prices (probably be more of the same at best)

TrueIori
TrueIori

Btw after 24 months of non use they can cancel your account , thats 2 years of not using it but still steam doesn't have that policy. EA...FAIL!!!

TrueIori
TrueIori

Awesome already crippling your game by making it exclusive to your crappy service LOL.

SauhlGood
SauhlGood

what an original idea EA, monkey see, monkey do...id luv to listen in on the boardmeeting that yielded that golden nugget, people already own alot of games on steam and d2d, im already hesitant to buy anything from impulse as their billing practices are attrocious. Every damn company is jumping on this bandwagon, its just like achievement points, the moment 360 started using them, everybody and their na-na is giving out "points"/"achievements"....why just yesterday i got 5 points for hugging me naan. so basically unless they can match steam or d2d's sales offerings, people will just make an account to get TOR, then forget about the service, nless they pack more exclusives in, even if they do, EA' has small catalogue of worthwhile games, most of which we already own and wont be buying again.

steveguttenberg
steveguttenberg

@uberjannie, I know what the EULAs say, but, once again, something's appearance in a license agreement doesn't write it into law. Even if you signed the contract in your own blood on a stack of Bibles. Contracts for hitmen and prostitutes also don't hold up in court for similar reason. There's no excuse to be so ignorant of your own rights, not with the internet readily available. Do the smallest bit of research. Some things to look up: "first sale doctrine," "contract law" "will a eula stand up in court?"

Chainer323
Chainer323

@demonkingx5 snitching would imply that i told someone of authority on you; where as all i did was tell you to go beg for people on an actual forum site. I know it's hard to read deeply into what i said, but if you try, you might succeed

uberjannie
uberjannie

@steveguttenberg : Which rights does the EULA break? EA, Steam, Microsoft, Apple etc. All state that you only have rights to use the product, not that you own it. You wouldn't win anything in court and if you would have, it surely would have happened by now. Try to buy Windows OEM, then splash your mainboard full of soda. Buy a new, not identical system and try to install and activate it. Then when you are denied take them to court. Good luck. If it did break any law, I doubt they would be allowed to sell software with these terms.

iamsthedogfood
iamsthedogfood

Man EA, why can't you work with other members of the industry instead of trying to monopolize everything? I like your games but your company really ticks me off sometimes.

demonkingx5
demonkingx5

@Chainer323 mind your business & stop being a internet snitch

Chainer323
Chainer323

@demonkingx5 this is the wrong place for that, try begging for people on the forums

deathstream
deathstream

@Scourgejoe Yeah, they didn't remove it from the older games, but at least Steam warned you. You wouldn't find a SecuRom warning on a retail box. And eventually, publishers started realizing that Steam plus 3rd party DRM was an unnecessary redundancy. It was with Dragon Age: Origins and The Sims 3 that EA started moving away from SecuRom and helping to restore their reputation. Then Bobby Kotick happened and Activision rightfully took EA's place as the enemy of gamers everywhere. SW: TOR not on Steam = not a big deal. WoW isn't either. And it will still be available at brick and mortar stores.

redness19
redness19

I'll never use it and I'd go out of my way to NOT use it. EA sucks. They buy first rate studios, let them do the dirty work, then slap the EA logo on the box like they helped in any way. Quite the contrary actually, most time EA hingers the developers by forcing "improvements" into their games.

steveguttenberg
steveguttenberg

@uberjannie, If your End User License Agreement said that EA gets your house, would it be legal? No. First, because we're not entirely sure it's a legally binding contract. Second, if it is a contract, it is subject to contract law. A contract can't have terms that violate our rights. The clause in the EULA that says we can't transfer ownership violates the Doctrine of First Sale.

Zloth2
Zloth2

Two to one odds the boxed copy ends up using the Origin store for verification or some such. Kinda odd seeing this just as GOG announces a bunch of EA games for their service. Maybe Origin is doing the new *ahem* stuff and GOG gets the rest?

XxCRAFTYxX
XxCRAFTYxX

I guess I'll be buying a boxed copy of SWTOR then. I support Bioware but EA is the devil I will never allow a piece of their system scanning bloatware on my PC.

demonkingx5
demonkingx5

looking for some serious battle field bad company 2 players on the PS3 only PM me if you want to play. NOTE this is not a clan try out

Scourgejoe
Scourgejoe

@deathstream It looks like the dark days of SecuROM aren't quite over just yet, I'm afraid. Look at the fine print on some of their older digital offerings, such as Mass Effect and Red Alert 3, and you'll see the following: THIS GAME USES SECUROM CONTENT PROTECTION TECHNOLOGY FROM SONY DADC. FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT SECUROM, INCLUDING HOW TO UNINSTALL SECUROM, VISIT WWW.SECUROM.COM. It's also worth noting that newer offerings, such as Dragon Age: Origins, don't mention SecuROM in the fine print.

deathstream
deathstream

I keep seeing references to a "cash grab" by EA. I don't see that part of the article. There is nothing to indicate that this will cost anything, just like Steam doesn't. However, Steam has done so much for PC gamers, especially during the dark days of SecuRom, that I would hate to see publishers start pulling their games to launch 4 or 5 competing services.

mardinn
mardinn

I am not going to buy this game. EA is thinking like Activision. Planning to milk more money for the subscription while EA is launching its "rip-off" from steam. A lot of people including myself won't buy this game exclusively because its only on "EA +" the name of that stupid idea that they have.

kiopta1
kiopta1

digital is cheaper for the company...also greater control over distribution and pirating. It will hurt brick and mortar places but gamer with internet will enjoy the access directly at your finger tips.

kiopta1
kiopta1

As a gamer I am not that excited about the service...other than it may be convenient. However, as an investor the everything digital story is strong and could be great for EA stock...just like TOR should be.

joeborg14
joeborg14

Yeah, launch is going to suck. And I will not be adopting EA's online store anytime soon. Steam forever!

Polarskill
Polarskill

Yaaay everyone downloading on the same day from the same provider!... on launch day this game will be even more impossible to download!!! Games gotta be at least 25gigs to down load!!!... woot woot!!! Fun times await us.

Poodger
Poodger

I wish TOR would go through Steam as well, because I hate that I am going to have to download another client just to play one game (a game that I MUST play at that)

M-S-M-S
M-S-M-S

@SauhlGood I agree with you. Currently Onlive has a lot of drawbacks: Lag, no 1080p, low game settings, US only, small game list offer, bandwidth cap by internet providers, only 3 years game support (I still play games from the 90's and early 2000), etc. But I do believe that the advantage of not needing to buy a new rig (or at least a new GPU) every few years is a huge advantage. The same for not buying a new console every few years. This will enable playing AAA games on "weak" PCs, tablets, cells etc. Valve is amazing, and I hope they'll evolve with time. I just hope that EA won't ditch Steam to make more money for themselves. I don't see myself buying games from more than 1-2 providers (I have more than 100 games on Steam and a few from GOG)...

XanderZane
XanderZane

Evenios uh no offense but didnt EA already have a digital download store before? ************************************************************************ That's what I thought, but I think their store also allowed for physical games to be sold and shipped to games too. I'm just wondering if EA will have digital download exclusively for service? Will they allow other services to do DD for their games.

DontEatCream
DontEatCream

So, they're making an EA Store that doesn't suck? More power to them, I suppose.

dkdk999
dkdk999

@Evenios I think this is for a lot of games. Not just ea games like it was before. Anyway maybe it will be nice for steam to get some actual competition.

BetardxFoosier
BetardxFoosier

Seems like Valve might start publishing on their own now that their publisher is trying to compete with them in the digital distribution market.

thedirtyleg
thedirtyleg

As long as they allow a pre-release date download for SWTOR, I'll gladly use whatever cash-grab service EA comes up with. I'd much rather bang my head against a wall trying to login during the first week than bang my head against a wall watching an epically slow download for the entire release day. Call my fears unfounded, or even misguided, but I don't think this game stands a snowflake's chance in hell of being released smoothly. So. Much. Hype. @wis3boi yeah, that actually might be the best way to go now that you mention it.

wis3boi
wis3boi

SWToR is a day one buy for me, but since no steam launch, I'll get a boxed copy

thrice00
thrice00

I've got nothing against EA. They did blow DA2 but it's their own fault. Nothing against making their digital platform but why do they force us to buy TOR on it just to get more profit and disrespect the people who are using others platform for years. Will i need to have an account in Steam,Impulse,D2D,EA one and others in 5 years. Totally backward thinking.

athenian29
athenian29

@Evenios They did - and in fact, the last update to it added some social services such as friends-lists. I would bet money that they were patching the EA Download Manager to make it more like Origin for the transition. Looks good - EA is so forward thinking nowadays that they're almost nothing like the evil publisher they were 6+ years ago. Now, if only Activision would quit trying to claim that mantle...

flo20001
flo20001

It's gonna be really annoying in the future to have to buy and login into nine different services to play a game because each publisher is gonna get more and more protectionist and isolated.

Reyveign
Reyveign

EA must not like having their games subject to sales on other digital distributors. I wonder what makes them think they're so special...

Evenios
Evenios

uh no offense but didnt EA already have a digital download store before?

JusticeFromSeed
JusticeFromSeed

Digital Download services are really picking up. I'm glad they're offering the option to buy hard copies, though. On a separate note, yay TOR!

questclub
questclub

Is it really happening? This year? SWTOR? At last years of waiting coming to an end.

Megavideogamer
Megavideogamer

EA it in the Origin. I guess this could work out well for EA. If they do their service right. Eventually they could throw their entire back catalog on, In addition to their current and upcoming offerings.

ztron370
ztron370

I'll probably buy BF3 this November using origin.

xxtg82xx
xxtg82xx

As much as everyone wants to bash EA all the time, they are a great company and have been producing some amazing titles for a very long time. I have been playing the nhl games since nhl hockey came out in 91, Battlefield is amazing and the fifa games for the past few years have been steller. I get that not all that EA comes out with is going to be great but give credit where credit is due.

XanderZane
XanderZane

So... does this mean all EA games will no longer be on Steam? They didn't mention anything about that? Will other companies follow suit like Activision, Ubisoft, Sega, Atari, Konami, etc...Just curious. I will still buy the physical retail version of most games. Only games I use digital download are for older games that are hard to find now and are cheap $15 or less.

RossRichard
RossRichard

Shame they showed up 10 years late to the party. Oh, and the whole 'everyone hates EA' thing.

Echo_One
Echo_One

So...Origin will be buggy and lack support like other EA products. GG

slappylad
slappylad

I buy most of my games via digital download (steam,D2D). This is the future of the business and it works for me. Sure, if a product has a "limited edition" w/ a collectible, I may buy it at the store, but most of the time I digital download for the simple fact it takes less time for me to procure, download and access the said program..

ebookerd1
ebookerd1

Yeah the new EASCUM Service is on its way! (Electronic Arts Sending User Messages)

YummyMango
YummyMango

Well though I still think it is much better if they would have partnered with steam which is well established platform and running successfully still I think I can buy games if they come cheap. I would love EA to give crazy weekend discounts like steam sometimes sell games at dirt cheap prices but we will see. Not too much excited about social networking stuff.

smookert010
smookert010

great another steam alike.... steam is horrible and so is ea. so that makes this.... ?