Origin (digital distribution software)

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Origin running on macOS
Origin running on macOS
Developer(s) Electronic Arts
Initial release June 3, 2011 (2011-06-03)[1]
Stable release
Platform Microsoft Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Facebook Platform
Available in 19 languages
List of languages
English, Chinese (Traditional), Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French (Canada), French (France), German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Russian, Spanish (Latin America), Spanish (Spain), Swedish, Thai
Type Digital distribution
Digital rights management
Social networking
Website origin.com

Origin is an online gaming, digital distribution and digital rights management (DRM) platform developed by Electronic Arts that allows users to purchase games on the internet for PC and mobile platforms, and download them with the Origin client (formerly EA Download Manager, EA Downloader and EA Link). Origin for Mac has been available since February 8, 2013.[2]

Origin contains social features such as profile management, networking with friends with chat and direct game joining along with an in-game overlay, streaming via TwitchTV and sharing of game library and community integration with networking sites like Facebook, Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, and Nintendo Network.[3] Electronic Arts has stated that it wanted Origin to match Valve's Steam service, Origin's leading competitor, by the end of March 2012, by adding cloud game saves, auto-patching, achievements and rewards, and cross-platform releases.[4] Origin has over 50 million registered users.[5]


Origin store[edit]

Origin web store as of February 2015

The Origin store allows users to browse and purchase games for full price from Electronic Arts' catalogs. Instead of receiving a box, disc, or even CD key, purchased software is immediately attached to the user's Origin account and is to be downloaded with the corresponding Origin client.

Origin guarantees download availability forever after purchase,[6] and there is no limit to the number of times a game can be downloaded.

Users may also add certain EA games to their Origin account by using CD keys from retail copies, and digital copies obtained from other digital distribution services. However, the addition of retail keys to Origin is restricted to games from 2009 onwards and older keys will not work even if the game is available on Origin, unless user contacts customer support.[citation needed]

Origin client[edit]

The Origin client is self-updating software that allows users to download games, expansion packs, content booster packs and patches from Electronic Arts. It shows the status of components available. The Origin client is designed to be similar to its competitor, Steam. The Origin In Game overlay client can be disabled while playing games. The client also features chat features such as a Friends List and a group chat options (implemented in version 9.3). Client and download performance has been patched and improved over the past several updates.[7]

Origin Mobile[edit]

Electronic Arts also plans to launch the Origin platform for mobile devices (such as iOS devices) and achievements can be synced across both platforms. Scrabble Network will be incorporated into Origin Mobile. These services will be free of charge.[8]

Origin Access[edit]

EA released a subscription service for accessing and playing their games on PC in 2016. Users can choose between paying a monthly or yearly subscription to access a large collection of EA titles (known as The Vault). Origin Access subscribers also get a 10% discount on all Origin purchases. [9]


EA Downloader was launched in late 2005.[10] It was replaced by EA Link in November 2006, adding trailers, demos and special content to the content delivery service. In September 2007, it was once again replaced by the combination of EA Store and EA Download Manager.[11] Users purchase from the EA Store website and use the downloadable EADM client to download their games.[12] Games bought via EA Link were downloadable using the EA Download Manager.[13] The store and client was reopened under the Origin name on June 3, 2011.[citation needed]

The digital distribution software was first used to deliver the Battlefield 2: Special Forces expansion pack,[14] and subsequently most EA titles. The biggest product launch on the software is Spore Creature Creator.

EA acquired the trademark Origin when it purchased Origin Systems in 1992. Origin Systems was a major game studio in the 1980s and 1990s, best known for its Ultima, Wing Commander, and Crusader game franchises.[15]

Criticism and controversy[edit]

Removal of Crysis 2 from Steam and Origin exclusives[edit]

Shortly after the launch of Origin, Crysis 2 was pulled from Steam and appeared on EA's website with an "only on Origin" claim, though it remained available on other distribution services.[16][17] EA has since stated that Valve removed Crysis 2 due to imposed "business terms" and that "this was not an EA decision or the result of any action by EA."[18]

More recently, Crysis 2: Maximum Edition (a re-release of Crysis 2 with all the DLCs) has been released on Steam, matching EA's story about pulling Crysis 2 due to DLC restraints.[19] EA has confirmed that Battlefield 3 would not be available through Steam.[20] The game is currently available for purchase on other non-Origin services such as GameFly,[21] Green Man Gaming[22] or GamersGate, but the Origin client must be used regardless of through which service the game was purchased.[23]

Origin account bans[edit]

There have been several instances of EA enforcing such bans for what critics argue are comparatively minor infractions, such as making rude comments in EA or BioWare's official forums or in chat.

During March 2011, a user named "Arno" was banned for allegedly making the comment "Have you sold your souls to the EA devil?" Arno's account was banned for 72 hours which prevented him from playing any of his Origin games.[24] After reporting on the details of the incident, website Rock, Paper, Shotgun received a statement from EA saying that Arno's account ban was a mistake, and that future violations on the forums would not interfere with Origin users' access to their games.[25]

Later during October and November 2011, one user was banned for posting about teabagging dead players. Another user received a 72-hour account suspension for posting a link to his own network troubleshooting guide in the EA forums. EA interpreted this as a "commercial" link, even though the same link had been posted elsewhere in the forums, and EA's own corporate support site and FAQ. One user was permanently banned for submitting a forum post containing the portmanteau "e-peen," which is slang for "electronic penis."[26]

Security weaknesses[edit]

EA has been criticized for not encrypting Origin’s XMPP chat functionality, which is available in Origin and in Origin powered games. Unencrypted data includes account numbers, session tokens, as well as the message contents itself. With this type of data, user accounts might get compromised. Innocent chats in a war-game-universe may be misconstrued for terrorism and other sinister activities from the perspective of anyone intercepting them such as the NSA.[27]

Accusations of spying[edit]

Origin's end-user license agreement (EULA) gives EA permission to collect information about users' computers regardless of its relation to the Origin program itself, including "application usage (including but not limited to successful installation and/or removal), software, software usage and peripheral hardware."[28] Initially, the EULA also contained a passage permitting EA to more explicitly monitor activity as well as to edit or remove material at their discretion.[29] A report by the news magazine Der Spiegel covered the allegations.[30][31] In response to the controversy, EA issued a statement claiming they "do not have access to information such as pictures, documents or personal data, which have nothing to do with the execution of the Origin program on the system of the player, neither will they be collected by us."[32] EA also added a sentence to the EULA stating that they would not "use spyware or install spyware on users' machines," though users must still consent to allowing EA to collect information about their computers.[33]

Situation in Germany[edit]

According to reports in German newspapers, the German version of Origin's EULA violates several German laws, mainly laws protecting consumers and users' privacy.[30][34] According to Thomas Hoeren, a judge and professor for information, telecommunication and media law at the University of Münster, the German version of the EULA is a direct translation of the original without any modifications and its clauses are "null and void".[30]

Origin-enabled games[edit]

Origin-enabled games are games which have Origin as a mandatory requirement, regardless of where the game is purchased from. The games are listed as follows:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Electronic Arts launches Origin, retrieved January 17, 2011.
  2. ^ Official announcement by Origin.com
  3. ^ Whitehead, Thomas (October 23, 2012). "The Wii U Nintendo Network Will Connect to EA's Origin". Nintendo Life. Retrieved October 24, 2012. 
  4. ^ "PDF E3 2011 Investor Presentation" (PDF). Electronic Arts. Retrieved July 10, 2011. 
  5. ^ Jackson, Mike (July 23, 2013). "EA Origin passes 50 million users milestone". CVG. Retrieved July 26, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Origin Frequently Asked Questions". Electronic Arts. Retrieved February 20, 2013. 
  7. ^ "New Features in Origin 9.3|EA Help". Help.ea.com. October 23, 2013. Retrieved November 23, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Origin for mobile FAQs". Electronic Arts. Retrieved July 10, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Origin". www.origin.com. Retrieved 2017-10-22. 
  10. ^ "EA soft-launches Link". GameSpot. Retrieved July 1, 2008. 
  11. ^ "Electronic Arts Closes EA Link Service, Unveils EA Store". GamaSutra. Retrieved September 24, 2007. 
  12. ^ "EA Store". Electronic Arts. Archived from the original on October 11, 2007. Retrieved July 18, 2007. 
  13. ^ "Footnote on EA Link's website". Electronic Arts. Archived from the original on March 9, 2009. Retrieved August 30, 2012. All your EA Link games will continue to work and can be downloaded again at any time using the new EA Download Manager 
  14. ^ "EA Launches PC Digital Delivery Service". GamaSutra. Retrieved November 11, 2005. 
  15. ^ Varney, Allen (October 11, 2005). "The Conquest of Origin". The Escapist. Retrieved April 10, 2011. 
  16. ^ McWhertor, Michael (June 14, 2011). "Crysis 2 Pulled From Steam, Now Only On EA's Origin". Kotaku. Retrieved October 3, 2011. 
  17. ^ "EA Pulls Crysis 2 PC From Steam, Makes Exclusive To Origin". June 15, 2011. Retrieved October 3, 2011. 
  18. ^ McWhertor, Michael (June 15, 2011). "EA Says It Was Valve Who Expelled Crysis 2 From Steam". Kotaku. Retrieved October 4, 2011. 
  19. ^ "Crysis 2 returns to Steam, EA silent on other absences". Retrieved July 6, 2012. 
  20. ^ Klepek, Patrick (June 20, 2011). "Crysis 2 Was Removed From Steam Over DLC Distribution Deal". GiantBomb. Retrieved July 6, 2012. 
  21. ^ "Battlefield 3 on GameFly". Archived from the original on February 15, 2012. 
  22. ^ "Battlefield 3 on Green Man Gaming". Archived from the original on 2013-01-24. 
  23. ^ "Battlefield 3 on GamersGate". 
  24. ^ Walker, John (March 11, 2011). "EA Forum Bans Can Lock You Out Of Games". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved February 16, 2012. 
  25. ^ Walker, John (March 11, 2011). "EA Retracts Game Ban For Forum Violation". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved February 16, 2012. 
  26. ^ Walker, John (October 14, 2011). "EA Forum Bans Are STILL Affecting Games". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved February 16, 2012. 
  27. ^ "Origin game platform sends login and messages in plain‐text". Slight Future. August 26, 2016. Retrieved July 30, 2015. 
  28. ^ "Origin End User License Agreement". Electronic Arts. Retrieved August 25, 2011. 
  29. ^ Magrino, Tom (August 24, 2011). "EA Origin EULA sparks privacy concerns". GameSpot. Retrieved February 16, 2012. 
  30. ^ a b c Lischka, Konrad (October 28, 2011). "Spiele-Gigant will Kunden ausspionieren" (in German). Der Spiegel Online. Retrieved February 16, 2012. 
  31. ^ Chalk, Andy. "Internet Explodes Over Origin's Invasion of Privacy". Escapist Magazine. Retrieved August 25, 2011. 
  32. ^ Phillips, Tom (November 1, 2011). "EA denies spying on Battlefield 3 Origin users". Eurogamer. Retrieved February 16, 2012. 
  33. ^ Fletcher, JC (October 26, 2011). "EA revises Origin EULA; data collection is still in, collection for marketing is out". Joystiq. Retrieved February 16, 2012. 
  34. ^ Schwenke, Thomas (October 25, 2011). "Der Teufel im Vertragsdetail" (in German). GameStar. Retrieved October 28, 2011. 

External links[edit]