When we recorded our podcast yesterday (which will be released shortly), we said EA was one of the most progressive game publishers out there. It’s investing the most in the digital future, especially in the direct-to-consumer phone and social realm. This morning, it made us look like total geniuses with the announcement of “Origin,” a digital download direct-to-consumer service set to hit PC and mobile devices in the near future.

News of Origin is still in the early going, but here’s what we know. On the PC, it’ll offer a similar experience to that of Valve’s Steam platform. Like Steam, you’ll be able to grab digital versions of retail games through a chunk of UI that connects you to a store and your friends. Unlike Steam, you'll be able to order physical versions of games, too, much like you could via the old EA Store.

You can check out a beta build of the application here if you so desire.

On the mobile side, Origin will be a “mobile platform that gives you access to your profile and lets you connect and play with friends in EA’s leading smartphone titles,” according to the EA Web site. EA namedrops Scrabble [$2.99 / HD] and a mobile variant of Battlefield 3, though it’s up for grabs what other popular titles Origin will include on and after launch.

We’ve got some questions about the mobile branch of the service. The wording implies that it’s a straight-up third-party store, which is something we’re not sure if Apple will allow. But if it’s like, say, the Pogo Games [Free] app, EA will be in the free and clear, though then there’s a question of how fleshed out Origins’ games are destined to be.

EA makes it clear that it’s not going to talk anymore on the subject until E3 begins, so stay tuned until next week. E3 kicks off on June 7, 2011.

  • Anonymous

    I recall people saying one of the biggest pros of Steam was having access to all of their games in one place... now that the competition is heating up they'll either have to choose between services and potentially miss out on exclusive games/offers or put up with switching back and forth. Hooray.

    • http://morereasonsyoushouldntfuckkids.tumblr.com Chungyen Chang

      Yeah, all of this splintering between digital stores is getting a little silly. :(

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marshall-Pope/100000602530531 Marshall Pope

    Poor EA they are worse than sony at trying to be proprietary and "different", greeds a funny thing.  Most people I know dont want to run  2 gaming services and are already heavily invested in steam.  You would think they would have learned a lesson with the xbox live fiasco that had them missing from live for over a year, the result wasn't Microsoft bending the rules in their favor instead it was drastically dropped sales.  I will bet this one wont be much different.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QCP4WHWLUQHFIOP66SLEA7E5CA Hampus

      Actually the service is pretty neat, many of the games are actually cheaper than on steam.

      The best feature though is that I can add the cd keys of all my boxed ea games to it and forever have a digital backup of the games.

      They've had this store for quite a while, they just change the name now, so I would guess it's actually paying of for them.

      Biggest problem is it's only EA games.

  • Anonymous

    Yep, no desire to have more than one game management software running on my PC. No thanks.

  • guest

    will there still be ea games on steam?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QCP4WHWLUQHFIOP66SLEA7E5CA Hampus

      they have had this service running for quite a while just under a different name so...

  • Vimy

    to early really to comment, EA is the big boy on the block when it comes to games. i would be surprised if it was more than just an online store.

    i suspect we are looking at mostly hype at this time. like GOG or gamersgate but ea related.

    at any rate, i don't think they will move away from app store or steam, or retail for that matter. a sale is a sale.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QCP4WHWLUQHFIOP66SLEA7E5CA Hampus

      to early? it's been around for quite a while actually, it's just that they change the name, and put beta on there for some reason...

  • Ron

    this is very sensible and in some was I am surprised to see that "it took them this long." No doubt Apple won't be too pleased about it, but even if it is limited in scope on iPhone, they will be able to flush it out more on competing platforms. Full-blown Digital Stores are the natural evolution of publishers and even software manufacturers - even if they start up in smaller scale, so long as they can grow appropriately than it will be a wise investment where all things are concerned. Especially considering how the App Store currently operates (a nicely-centralized, if non-navigable mess) I'd suspect EA and the like can do a better job, particularly considering their history with the subject matter.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QCP4WHWLUQHFIOP66SLEA7E5CA Hampus

      they have had this running for at least a year.
      the newest version is a few weeks old even, they just changed the name and put beta on there for some reason.

  • http://twitter.com/MarkEightThree MarkEightThree

    This sounds like another 'Gameloft LIVE' type of platform in terms of smartphones. I was crossing my fingers that Apple would announce an update to  Game Center for iOS 5 on Monday and EA would stroll on stage to announce their support for it. I'll just keep dreaming instead...

  • Anonymous

    EA can't compete in mobile app marketplaces with smaller more nimble and
    innovative developers. The barriers to entry in the iTunes Store,
    Android Market and Amazon App Store are much lower than at retail
    outlets like Gamestop and Target.