Archive

Archive for November, 2012

Rant Mode–EA’s Origin distribution platform

November 26, 2012 Leave a comment

In the digital game distribution world, there are many products that have come and gone over the years. Some have managed to survive with a small audience base, while others came, shone brightly for a while and then died. One name stands above all others however: Valve’s Steam. I’m not the biggest fan of Steam in the world for a few reasons, but it works well and has changed the industry probably for the better.

EA sold their games through Steam, but starting with The Old Republic and Battlefield 3, they no longer provided their games on Steam, but were instead forcing people to use Origin, their rebranded attempt at taking on Steam. For the most part, Origin has worked ok for me, but its features are lacking compared to Steam. In particular, the one that is grating me the most right now is the lack of a proper game backup/restore option.

I’ve recently just built a new computer for myself (more on that soon), and one of the things I needed to do was to set up Steam and Origin again on the new PC. With Steam, restoring backed up games off of my old PC was a piece of cake. Click on the Steam menu button in Steam, select Backup and Restore Games and follow the prompts to easily restore your games. Worked like a charm.

Origin has no such ability. A search found out that you could try copying the existing folder off the old PC onto the new PC and run some setup file in a specific directory to reinstall the game, but this file didn’t exist on my PC. Reading through other links revealed that other people also didn’t have this file. In the end, I was able to get Mass Effect 3 reinstalled by pointing the location Origin uses to install games to the new correct directory. I right clicked on the Mass Effect 3 game art in Origin and said Install. This proceeded to reinstall the game using the existing folder I had copied earlier.

However, after installation, it kept trying to download all the DLC I’ve purchased for the game, which is a multi gigabyte affair. After forcing enough cancels, it seems to have settled down a little.

Just when I thought I would be good to go, Origin wanted to start downloading every piece of Mass Effect 2 DLC I own and install it. I registered Mass Effect 2 with Origin, so that if my game disks are ever damaged, I can download the game for free. However, I already have all the DLC packs downloaded and saved, so I don’t need Origin to download and install them for me. I cancel every time I open Origin, but it keeps attempting to download the DLC files.

Origin has potential. I like its interface, as well as its speed. As a launcher of games, it’s pretty decent. However, many of the games that it supports managing in return have no idea Origin exists, so there is a disconnected feeling when playing an older game. Contrast that with Steam, where every game on the platform is Steam aware. If EA want to seriously compete in the digital download market, they need to ramp up the quality of the Origin client. They don’t even need to copy all of Steam’s features – just get the rest of the basics in place. It really isn’t too much to ask for. After all, the more competition there is in the industry, the more we as customers benefit.

Origin

My Origin collection of games. Note that only Mass Effect 3 fully supports Origin. The others were “redeemed” games in case my physical disks ever get damaged/lost/stolen