EA cuts out middleman, launches video game download service

June 3, 2011

It might be a few days before a stampede of people will storm into the LA convention center to catch the video game industry’s latest wares but EA wasted no time in getting out the word about its new digital download service, dubbed “Origin.”

“Origin”, which EA announced on Friday, lets consumers buy and download PC games directly from the publisher online, as well as track all of their games across different platforms.

Publishers like digital delivery of games to consumers because they offer higher margins than games sold in brick and mortar stores like GameStop.  EA has been pushing its digital strategy hard to investors and its digital business is now growing faster than the company’s overall business.

Sales of online games, including digital downloads, Facebook games, online subscriptions and other forms, is expected to grow to $18 billion by the end of this year, according to DFC Intelligence, while regular sales of games sold in stores is expected to slip.

Users can find games on Origin the same time they come out in stores.

While there are other ways to download PC titles on services such as Steam, EA is offering exclusive titles on the new service. It will be the only place to find a digital version of “Star Wars: The Old Republic,” the highly-anticipated massive multiplayer game that will come out later this year.

“We wanted to have a compelling offering to our gamers who are loyal to our intellectual property,” said David Demartini, senior vice president of Global Online at EA.

Demartini said the service’s moniker, Origin, was inspired by the company of the same name it acquired in in the 1990s that was an early pioneer in massive multiplayer games.

Photo: A screenshot of Origin’s app, courtesy of EA

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