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EA takes on Steam with Origin, the only place to download The Old Republic


Nearly 20 years after acquiring legendary game developer Origin Systems, EA is dusting off that trademark with the launch of Origin, its not-really-new "direct-to-consumer gaming platform." You see, Origin is a rebranding of the unambitiously named EA Store and, like the EA Store, Origin's angle will be access to EA's own games. While the site is still under construction (it will be up at noon ET), EA says that more than 150 games are already available on the service. Origin will also host "exclusive limited edition copies" of EA titles like Battlefield 3, FIFA 12, Alice: Madness Returns, and Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. The biggest attraction for Origin, however, is likely to be Star Wars: The Old Republic, which is being offered in downloadable format exclusively on Origin.

In order to better compete with Steam, EA will be putting the Origin store into an application as well. Currently in beta, the Origin application will offer a familiar list of services, including the ability to "find and connect with friends, see what they are playing, and digitally download and play PC games." If this sounds like Origin is covering old ground, the good news is that it will be growing. "Today we're launching and the Origin beta application. Over time, Origin will grow with new functionality and unique new content that consumers can't get anywhere else," EA CEO John Riccitiello said.

One major area that Origin differs from Steam is in the mobile space. The service will work on mobile devices, ostensibly integrated directly into EA's mobile games, including Scrabble and the upcoming mobile variant of Battlefield 3. If you've been wondering why EA's mobile games refuse to support Apple's own Game Center ... well, there you have it. Another mobile social gaming platform!

We expect to learn more at EA's press conference during E3 next week. Tune in at 12:30pm PT on Monday!

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