Dear Origin, You Stink

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You make an awful lot of sense Shamus, probably too much for a company like EA ;-)

To add a bit of defense for EA and Origin, it seems they were surprised with the backlash and have actually made some changes.

The original EULA felt like making a deal with the devil, now it is a lot more reasonable than most software EULA's.

The creepy system scanning that Origin used to do was reportedly a trivial but very unfortunate bug. Recent reports suggest much more normal behaviour.

There is still little reason to use Origin voluntarily, and having it forced upon us is not the best way to attract customers. EA will probably learn eventually, and in the meantime I guess they have plenty of cash to burn.

Shamus Young:
Dear Origin, You Stink

Shamus believes EA is the underdog here, with Steam the clear favorite.

Read Full Article

Please do the world a favour and send this to EA if you haven't already.

Bostur:

To add a bit of defense for EA and Origin, it seems they were surprised with the backlash and have actually made some changes.

See, I really don't get this:

Either A) EA knew they were testing the waves with Origin, so are fully aware of the number they tried to pull.
Or B) They have no clue about the market.

A) means they'll try again (Origin's EULA states they can change it whenever necessary and you automatically agree to it, without you having to re-sign it) So they can revert it to it's original state legally.
B) means that they're incompetent at their job. Or actively blocking competency.

Which sounds better?

I've been saying this for a long time. Origin isn't that bad, depends a bit on what you want but that's it. It's just "not bad", nothing more.
Origin doesn't do anything better than Steam and some of the things worse. The only thing that it has going are the games which force users to use Origin, like ME3 but that's not enough to make people want to use it.
Offer something, something that Steam doesn't do, something that makes people go "wow, that's a great service/feature." Exclusives won't achieve that.
Like Shamus said, Valve pretty much pioneered in the digital distribution market for games back then. You on the other hand EA, were able to take notes from Steam. People won't have the same forgiveness for flaws and lack of service that they had for Valve seven years ago.

I don't even care about their prices, simply the fact that EA expect me to sign over the full contents of my hard drive to them to use as they see fit is more than enough to stay as far from Origin as possible. If there's an EA game that I really want to play, I'll just get the console version of it. If the console version is horrible or there is none, then I will not buy it. It's as simple as that.

I had the same stance against Steam right around the time Half Life 2 was released, when Valve expected me to take 90 minutes of my time waiting for them to "unlock" my heavily encrypted Half Life 2 retail installation via Steam and convince them that I'm not a criminal. Several years later, Valve realised that they would make more money if they stopped treating their customers like convicts and downgraded their DRM to a simple cd key check while upgrading their service to a gamer's candy shop. They still have a long way to go before they make Steam perfect (it's still unacceptable to charge the same amount of money for a digital download as the retail copy on release day and the way Steam handles mods is bullshit), but at least they did make a lot of progress.

EA is going to do not such thing. The key word to describe them was already eloquently mentioned in the article: strong-arming. Borderline illegal, unethical, stingy, retarded bullies. This is who they are and why noone likes them. And this is why their service will inevitably fail.

I'm so glad I read this, only because I didn't know that Steam had Jade Empire. Now I do, and now I own it. Thank you, Shamus.

Alexnader:

fix-the-spade:
To be honest I think EA just need to quietly give up and go back to Steam. They've already failed as far as I'm concerned, between battlelog and Origin I sent my (pre-oredered) copy of B3 back unopened.

If it was on Steam and used Steam's server browser, I'd have kept it, if it appears with those options, I'd buy it again.

As it is, who ever thought that having no less than three layers of separate DRM that all require log-ins to operate a multiplayer shooter that boils down to a cut down version of something that was released eight years ago needs to be taken outside and beaten.

Three layers? There's Origin, Battlelog and what else? Also Battlelog will automatically start and log you on to Origin if you join a game from it. To be honest if it wasn't for the notifications I get telling me that my friends are playing things I wouldn't even know I had Origin on my computer. At the moment Origin is basically the same thing as EA's old download manager except with a store, rudimentary social features and some spyware loaded into it.

isometry:
Steam doesn't need corporate competitors, because they are already facing and conquering a competitor that very few corporations have handled: massive piracy. Piracy forces Steam to have low prices and good service, because Valve already knows that if they fail to provide those things then PC gamers will return to piracy.

The next mistake is to assume Origin intends to "compete" in the sense of free market competition. Everything EA has done with Origin so far shows that their business plan is to strong-arm customers into using it with monopoly, not to entice them by competing in an open market.

So this article is good for pointing out obvious problems with Origin, but it's premised on two key errors: that steam needs a corporate competitor, and that Origin has any intention of competing in an open market.

I'm not so sure steam doesn't need a competitor, I'm in Australia but Origin's download speed shits on steam's and this is something most of my friends have noticed too. This is both in terms of max speed and general reliability. With steam my download will go at 5 kb/s until I restart the download then it'll jump up to 500 kb/s for about 5 minutes before dropping back down again. Origin just chugs along steadily at a couple of mb/s and then bam the 4 gig BF3 patch/DLC is down in record time. Steam claimed to have fixed this a while ago by changing how the servers handle load distribution but it's still a problem.

But hey, when you're competing against torrents then for anything other than popular/new games you're setting the bar fairly low.

Have you tried changing your download region in the settings? I've had some friends that have had great luck with that. Even some regions that made no sense gave them a speed boost.

Great article, but when it comes down to it I don't think EA is capable of learning here. The only thing they know is the old Embrace, Expand, Exterminate strategy. If we didn't have a company like Valve to go in and making it big doing things right, the digital platform would be a sorry place right now.

Consider their sports games for an example. I'm a hockey fan, and the last time I was into the console games was back in 2005. The competitor, 2K Sports, made a consumer friendly move by dropping their NHL games to $30. EA ignored it and just kept rolling along at the full $50 price (now $60). At this time, between 03-05 the 2K games were actually better as well, but EA stuck to their price tag. I'm not sure exactly what happened because at some point the quality flipped, but now EA completely dominates the market for NHL games and I don't know if 2K Sports even makes them anymore.

This is all EA knows what to do. They're not going to give you amazing deals on Origin like Steam does because they don't want to sell that low. They just bully their way into the room and stick to their guns, and hope/expect that eventually things will turn their way. I guess maybe they could learn, but I wouldn't hold my breath on it. As for other big players really the only ones with the clout to do it are Activision, who's no different or if anything even worse than EA, and Ubisoft who are too busy jumping at pirate shadows to start something like this.

But I'm perfectly happy in the meantime as I have full faith in Valve/Steam. I'm not even a big fan of Valve as a game developer, I've been PC gaming for 13 years and thanks to the winter sale I'm only just now getting around to playing the Half Life series.

Major_Tom:
Oh look, it's Shamus' annual column. Just kidding, I love you man.
(But you should really write more often.)

Presumably they're weekly again now. Yay!

Alexnader:
snip

Your download region isn't set to somewhere bizarre is it? And if it is set to Australia, set it to somewhere where it'll be the middle of the night.

(And are you SURE you get "a couple of mb/s" from Origin - I'm in Britain and I get 1mb/s, and Australia's hardly famous for its internet reliability.)

OT: Those idiots don't deserve the time you spent offering them this free consultation. They've not once shown that they're going to bother even pretending they're interested in their customers' well-being.

Say what you want about Valve and their likeness to other companies (personally, I think people vastly underestimate how humane such a successful company can remain when they don't have any shareholders), but I think you'd find people - even those who dislike Steam - struggling to deny that Valve don't do a great job of (at the very least) pretending that they give a shit about their customers.

Great article! I agree with all points that you made!

Hey look this all works better for steam, they are screwing Origin and that makes me and everybody else appreciate steam even more!

WOAHHH !!! I just got tweeted back by Origin after sending them a link and telling them to pay attention this article:

'The Escapist : Dear Origin, You Stink *link for article here* via @TheEscapistMag Have a look at this @ea and @origin_ea .. From every PC gamer'

'@baller195 Thanks for sending this over. We appreciate constructive feedback.' - Origin twitter page.

...

I feel like we are going to get ignored anyway...

It's EA. Aren't they the guys famous for godawful, horrible and stupid decisions? I think they are. Lemme check.
*check*
Yeah, they are. Maybe someone else will become a proper competitor against Steam.

Great article. As on a fundamental level, I was thinking down the "Valve did it with HL2" line also. The "spying on you" and "banning you" parts aside anyway. So, they've managed to create a years outdated Steam and surround it with additional acrimony.

I love this article. I hate Origin, I mean I didn't mind it, I actually downloaded it pre-Origin change, because at the time, I was having trouble with my CD-Drive, not the disk, the reader was a problem. The online setting allowed me to download the game using my Product Key and then after that I was able to play it from disk or online. So I appreciated that, now that it became Origin I'd like its next name change to be Termination.

As for now, Mass Effect 3 will be the last game I buy from them. I love Steam, but I hate using credit cards online, (see in your article about impulse buying), so I always buy hard copy, with the notable exception of my loophole, driving to a store getting a Visa Gift Card loading it and then using it on Steam, tedious yes but it works, leaving only impulse buys for when I had credit. In addition to pay tribute to my love of the game I'm buying the CE version because well, in the last 6 years having bought probably 30+ games it will be only the 3rd CE I ever get.

Oh and for ME2 along with any other EA game if it is late enough you can install it on the Origin and still despite needing the disk I think I you can cloud it, maybe...

Other than that, yay Steam boo Origin.

Damn! It's as if you dug into the deep recesses of my mind on why I don't want Origin, but couldn't quite put my finger on it. Creepy, yet true.

Anyways, I really don't want to not play ME3. I have 1 and 2 on my Steam account, and I really want to finish the series. I'm giving EA until the 21st of February (two weeks before ME3's launch date) for them to make the game available on Steam at launch, otherwise I'm cancelling my pre-order of the Collector's Edition.

I'm THAT much of a fan of this series, but turned off by their business practices. When the customer is smarter marketing-wise than the actual marketers, you know something has gone wrong with the company.

Shamus Young:
"-and if you were smart like Valve..."

Woah now, 12th-level intellects aren't something that they just pass out at the hospital when you're born, you know. If people could be smart like Valve we wouldn't be seeing modern games struggling to catch up with Half-Life 2.

Yeh to bad about Origin and Mass Effect 3. Ow wait. I play it on the Xbox :D
From what i've read and seen at friends there is no way Origin is going to get on my system.
Screw it, Ill play the games on console or find other "ways" to avoid it.
Hell, i'm even willing to go as far as buying the game then pirating it just to avoid it.

I applaud them for having the balls to try it. I mean, come on, EA knows its the "bad guy" out of all the company's and Valve is pretty much everybody's sweetheart.
But if you really want to make an impact do it on launch. And don't half hearted release a clunky client which you will patch later.
It isn't a game!

And yeh, I think the coders are gonna read this, agree with it, notify the management. Who in turn will fuck it up by either putting the coders on other projects or firing them outright :P

Dear Mr. Young,

Stay out of my mind.

sincerely, me.

on another note, is origin still doing the whole evil data harvesting thing?

Its to bad a decent developer like bioware - one of the few around who still seem to want to make the sort of games i wanna play (OK...last one was Dragon Age origins but i still have hope for ME3) Is getting pulled down with all this EA crap.

Microsoft did a much better job with Bioware - kotor, Jade Empire, Mass effect 1, dont get much better than that.

As a store Origin is pretty poor, I can get better prices at retail stores, or Gamersgate, indeed retail and Gamersgate often beat Steam for new release prices outside of sales. EA do need to look at their pricing as it just isn't competitive. They also need to sell their old games for $5 or so and have their complete catalog available.

As an experiment I've added a bunch of EA games to Origin that I already owned, I added ME 1and 2 NFS: Shift and Shift 2, BF:BC2, and Crysis, all but Shift 2 and the Mass Effects were bought through Steam, I wish I could add BF2 and BF:2142 but it appears there is a cut off date. EDIT: There doesn't seem to be a way of installing old EA retail games to Origin from disk, but then the Steam solution for this is deliberately obtuse so maybe I just haven't found it yet. Bandwidth isn't a problem with my ADSL2 deal, and Origin's speeds are superior to Steam's for me.

As DRM Origin is fairly unobtrusive, except for BF3 (You can't play BF3 or the ME games offline anyway and the ME games didn't need Origin, just the usual online check) I didn't need Origin running to play offline. You have to have it installed, but don't need it to be actually running. That beats Steam any day.

The_root_of_all_evil:

Bostur:

To add a bit of defense for EA and Origin, it seems they were surprised with the backlash and have actually made some changes.

See, I really don't get this:

Either A) EA knew they were testing the waves with Origin, so are fully aware of the number they tried to pull.
Or B) They have no clue about the market.

A) means they'll try again (Origin's EULA states they can change it whenever necessary and you automatically agree to it, without you having to re-sign it) So they can revert it to it's original state legally.
B) means that they're incompetent at their job. Or actively blocking competency.

Which sounds better?

I don't know which is better, but I think clueless is the most likely reason. Also they probably have too many bored lawyers employed.

I think this article is a little late to really strike while the proverbial iron was hot.

That said, it's a really great essay. They better read this and take good notice of it.

I used Origin for BF3. Once the happy warm glowy feelings go away for that game, it's all over for Origin I fear. Mass Effect is good, but not that good.

Bostur:

I don't know which is better, but I think clueless is the most likely reason. Also they probably have too many bored lawyers employed.

EA pulls in 3.5 billion dollars a year. I find it much more comforting that they're cackling away rather than thinking that "Your Mum Wouldn't Like It" was a good idea.

Oh but clearly whatever problems or issues Origin may have are because of piracy. EA just can't compete when people steal everything! We need to pass SOPA and PIPA to make Origin better!!!

Also, a lot of people are talking about how Steam/Origin shouldn't be selling new copies at the same price as retail versions because there's far less overhead.

While I agree in general, I'd have to think a lot of that has to do with pre-existing publisher-retail agreements. For Gamestop/Walmart/Bestbuy/etc would be royally pissed off if Steam launched a game like Skyrim for $40 while the game on their shelves costs $60. The loss in sales would be immediate and significant, and you could bet there'd be a whole lot of lawsuits and boycotting going on.

I'm fine with my digital PC games so I can afford to say screw them, but I'd imagine the developers/publishers still need and want their games on that shelf space giving retailers enough clout to maintain even pricing.

This is a very well written article, and given the small bomb dropping that no version of ME3 would be available without Origin, perfectly timely.

The whole attitude that's come down with Origin has made it impossible for me to be a part of, even for the sake of Mass Effect 3. EA wants this to be the new industry standard, and to be blunt, if that comes to be the case, we're all fucked.

On a certain level, it reads like bad comedy about the worst salesman in the world.

-

Salesman: Hey, there! Would you like to buy Mass Effect 3 for the low, low price of $60?

Customer: Um, sure... That's what I'd normally pay for it, so I don't see how this is anything special, but-

Salesman: But wait, there's more! Order now, and you give us permission find out if you're running Steam, Bit Torrent, and disk imaging software! And we get to record your MAC and IP address, as well as whatever kinds of Internet Security software you're using, held securely on the kind of big-company database hackers are delving into on a nearly monthly basis!

Customer: Wow, that sounds like the kind of thing that could cause users to bring a lawsuit against-

Sales: Which brings us to the next part of our offer! When you buy Mass Effect 3 today, you also enter a contract not to sue us no matter how badly we mismanage your accounts or abuse your trust!

Customer: I'm really starting to wonder if I want to play this game...

Sales: It may not even matter! Because, if you act now, you may lose the right to play the games you laughably thought you "bought" from EA because you danced in a war zone, repaired a jeep, or simply rubbed a forum administrator the wrong way! Now, how much would you pay?

Customer: Gah!

Sales: Normally, with an offer like this, you would expect to find a small caliber fire-arm lodged in the small of your back! But if you order now, we may revise the terms and conditions at any time and hold the games you "bought" over your head if you even glance twice at the "opt out" button, assuming you can even find it!

Customer: ...Help me...!

-

EA's attitude towards this whole thing seems to amount to a producer-customer relationship of "Lick the shoe and like it, worm." Some like to sneer that we've given up as much with Steam, but it's simply not true. Valve has been at great pains to actually give their users something in return for using their service, to offer clarity and transparency in their policies, to show how the information they gather is used, and to seek permission before gathering it.

On a fundamental level, Valve seems to understand that this is a relationship that goes both ways, and customer trust is not something easily regained, so it shouldn't be abused. EA wants to start things from square one with them having all the power and none of the obligations. If you enter into that, it's really only a matter of time until they do abuse that trust-- and you subsequently find out just how damn little you can do about that abuse, and how much they can punish you for trying.

Sound advice but I doubt they will follow this model. Mainly because most companies know they can't be steam and wont try to copy their greatness. And as you said who would part with there 100+ Steam library for an impulse to start over.

Did you actually send this to EA? If not, then you should.

Anyways, great article as always. I'm not afraid to admit that the main reason that I haven't gotten into Origin is because of how much I'm attached to my Steam account (to the point of preferring to buy on Steam than a stand-alone copy of the game) but even if I wasn't Origin still is good enough for me to invest in.

I find it unfathomable that a company such as this got so many things wrong. Customer feedback is important and it seems they aren't listening and have never listened. Again, the information is out there, and fairly easy to collect. Why haven't they acted upon it? From the analysis from this site, profit before customers.

You know, a while ago I was having problems with my EA Account for Battlefield Bad Company 2. After relentless back and forth between customer services, they eventually gave me a 20% off code for their online store, which apparently lasts forever. That store is now Origin. I don't think I'll be using it any time soon...

I was looking for Crysis the other day and it's 5 more than on Steam. You're not gonna get my custom EA.
Brilliant article.

2 weeks in a row!?

Anyway, solid points all around.

Don't get me wrong: I agree with the majority of what you wrote in the article - but that's a pretty fresh link about the data collection you have there. Really, Shamus - really? Origin has alot to improve on sure, but the current games I own that run on Origin have had ZERO issues since I got them. Maybe I'm one of the lucky ones, who knows. Heck, I bought a DVD-copy of Bad Company 2 from a retailer, and it was -automatically- turned into an Origin copy from the CD-Key on my EA Account. So now if the disc is ever busted up or lost, I can download my game from Origin. Meanwhile I have a copy of Rainbow Six: Vegas, Fallout 2 (and numerous others) - games that are available on Steam. Can I put my CD Key in there and make them digital? No.

Origin gets things wrong, but it gets some things right.

And I've said this numerous times on the Escapist, but time and time again it seems I'm conveniently missed. A little roleplaying, if you will:

"Oh no, Origin collects information off my computer"
"I better log on Facebook and tell my friends about this horrible personal detail theft. At least those Facebook folks stay out of my information like, say... My name, adress, phone number, family, friends, workplace, hobbies, relationships, shopping habits, etc..."

Seriously now. If you're going to complain about being mined for marketing info - you're about ONE HUMANITY'S HISTORY late to the game. It's how marketing has always been done, and will always be done. The people who sell crap find out what you like, and then try to sell it to you. Game companies find out what kind of rigs the majority of players are running, and design their games in a way so people can run them. This maximizes the playerbase, and thus the profit. Steam does this aswell - Origin just originally worded it differently and it became a massive shitstorm of knee-jerk "I HATE EA" reactions.

My little Facebook-roleplaying-scenario is a great example of the attitude here on the Escapist, too. I'm not sure if it's hypocrisy or just plain ignorance, at times. In order to escape data mining, you pretty much should be so LITERALLY disconnected from the world that you shouldn't even be reading this post.

My two cents. Flame on!

Shamus - Go to EA, burst into the office of every person there, tie them to their chairs with duct tape and give a copy of this article to every last fucking one of them. Narrate it to them as well while they're reading it and make sure the message sinks in. If you need a hand I'm sure you'll find many here willing to smash into EA headquarters and help.

It boggles the mind to think that these guys are the top-payed managers of the game industry and they have absolutely no fucking clue about their own market.

elvis-66:
SW:TOR and BF3 HAVE been well received but due to the feelings towards origin they havent done as well as they could, case in point a gaming geek with disposable income (me) has made a point of ignoring both titles purely because of origin and so have a considerable number of my friends.

The reason why this has been posted now is possibly so the Steam christmas sale could be included in the article as a point of evidence? You know? The article above comparing steam and origin?

Regarding the article it says everything I think about origin. I have no desire to use the system due to my invested time in steam coupled with my distrust of EA. This is along with my game to dollarpound value felling. Why does a game that is just a download cost more than a physical copy? Why does a game with no middle man taking a cut cost more than a direct sale from the publisher?

Origin is a system with no reason to exist apart from the greed of its creator, It speaks volumes that I am foaming at the mouth for mass effect 3 but I am hoping instead to find some way to convert my mass effect pc save to the xbox

Pick it up on xbox and play through it before the release of the next one. I originally did that with it on PC because I wanted to experience the epicness that hopefully will be ME3 on my desktop. Ill just be getting it on xbox now instead.

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