I’ll admit it. I hate Origin. But I’m not exactly sure why. Hating EA’s Origin is akin to hating Microsoft. At one point there were legitimate reasons, but we hate it now because it’s popular to do so. It would be easier if Origin was just a mess and didn’t function well. But if I’m honest, Origin really isn’t that bad of a system. So then, why do we hate it?
We could lay the blame on the fact on the forfeiture of legal rights, the data capturing, or their various “Origin Exclusives”; but none of those reasons are the defining point into why we hate Origin. If there is any reason you can hate Origin, then having it backed by EA is as good a reason as any. EA quite frankly, has not been the white knight of the gaming realm in a long time. But whilst I think this is a core issue, there is certainly more behind it than meets the eye. For example, if Origin, in its current state was actually created by Rockstar; would this make a difference? The answer is quite simply, no.
The root of the issue lies with Steam. Not as its competition, but as its perceived intention. If you don’t know the story behind Steam, then here is a little perspective. Steam started off as a distribution and digital rights software, specifically for their (Valve) own games. The concept was needed for an upcoming update of Counter-Strike as well as to replace the aging WON system. Previously, each update of Counter-Strike, caused large amounts of players to have issues, preventing them from playing.These ranged from server version, to client version and even WON issues. This ultimately caused Valve to rethink their strategy. Whether anyone at Valve had the ambition to turn Steam into the monopoly it is now, no one is quite sure.
Nonetheless, Steam changed the course of PC gaming and brought it back from the brink of death. PC gamers are, in my most humblest opinion, the most hardcore gamers. Games like Counter-Strike, Warcraft III and the original Starcraft, experienced an unprecedented dominance that survived well over a decade are evidence of that. In saving the platform they most endear, Valve earned the utmost respect from gamers. However, it is likely EA saw the monopoly that the Steam platform had, and looked to address the issue by creating Origin, in an attempt to take market share. Whilst I can’t fault their business practices to take a slice of the pie; EA is already perceived as a greedy company. Unfortunately this gives the impressions that EA is in it for the money and not for the interests of the gaming community.
In EA’s defence, history shows that they are up against the wall, as generally speaking; gamers hate change. Going back to when Steam was first released and the WON servers were finally shut down; there was still a huge outcry. Despite the issues of updating, WON was perceived largely as a good system for PC. While it’s standard practice to install DRM software today, back when Steam was released, this was unheard of and was seen as almost draconian. Today, Steam is the standard practice for the PC platform, but having to use Origin is deviation from the norm and is largely a nuisance. If Origin were redefining the platform, then this lack of forgiveness for the system is only part of the process of change. But it really isn’t and there are few reasons to install it in the first place.
Steam on the other hand, continues to evolve and grow. Greenlight and Big Picture are already evidence that Valve intends to take its juggernaut beyond distribution and DRM. They are looking to actively engage the community, and change the way we thinking about gaming. Ultimately, the wider issue at hand is, when the hearts and minds of gamers are already won and a company like Electronic Arts, tries to profit on the work of another company, it does no favours for their already tarnished public image. And although it may be easy to attribute the hatred we feel towards Origin as justified; most gamers in the end would choose to believe: “We hate it, because we can.”
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This article was first posted on September 24, 2012