Origin, EA Games’ PC gaming subscription and associated download manager, doesn’t have a great reputation. That’s primarily because people love to hate EA, the birthplace of classics like Dead Space, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Army of Two, Titanfall, and The Sims and reputed source of many anti-consumerist woes. Is Origin really as bad as people say, or are they letting their opinion of its parent company bring a good app down?
An acceptable download manager for EA’s vast game vault
A download manager that’s inseparable from your opinion of the games on offer
Origin is the name of a PC gaming service from game developers Electronic Arts and the name of the download manager you use to get those PC games onto your computer. It’s a subscription-based service, which means you’ll need to sign up to download and use the manager. Origin currently offers a 7-day trial, after which you’ll need to make a decision.
Currently, available subscription options are Origin Access Basic and Origin Access Premier. Both give you free access to a catalog of around 70 - 100 games, called The Vault. It’s worth bearing in mind that the games available in the Vault depend on your geographic location. Depending on the level of subscription you purchase, you will also have access to other benefits, like a premium tier of high-ticket games, early access to newly released games, discounts on new game purchases, and access to micro-transactions called MTX bonuses.
The download manager itself is very acceptable. Since you can only use it to download the games you’ll be accessing via your subscription, it’s hard to look at in isolation - how good you think it is will be inextricably linked to how good you think the related games are. The manager interface is perfectly fine, although not particularly cool. If you’ve used any other game hub or manager, you’ll get to grips with it quickly. There’s a library, store, space to connect with your friends, and space to modify or change your subscription.
Downloads from Origin are fast and you can play before a game is entirely downloaded. There’s also an offline mode, perfect for traveling, and you’ll be able to import any PC games you have and view them via the manager, which makes for more central management. Even though games are downloaded to your computer (and not stored in the cloud), you will be able to save some games to the cloud, which makes them accessible from different computers (but you can only run one copy of Origin on any computer at the one time).
The platform is also pretty good for multiplayer and online gaming. Building out your friends groups is pretty intuitive, and there are built-in voice and text chat options, for communicating with them. Once you’ve paid for your Origin subscription, you’ll have access to pro customer support and there’s also online and social media help. It’s probably best not to turn to Google in times of troubleshooting, though, as there’s an awful lot of Origin and EA hate out there.
Where can you run this program?
You can download the Origin client to Mac and Windows.
Is there a better alternative?
To play EA games? No, not really. You can still buy the games on offer and play them on your PC, but if you want a centralized hub or the free access to the Vault games, this download manager is the only option. In terms of other PC game hubs, however, Steam probably pips it to the post. There are other alternatives, of course, but each one is generally limited to games from the same manufacturer as the hub itself, and that’s ultimately what’s going to influence your choice.
It’s hard to talk about Origin without talking about EA games, and that’s something that you’ll see echoed all over the internet. In itself, the download manager is... ok. It stores the games centrally, gives you access to new ones and your friends and it does it all fairly competently, if not impressively. Somehow, using it just doesn’t feel as nice as Steam, but it’s a perfectly acceptable user experience regardless.
When you look at the manager in the context of the games, however, your opinions are likely to change significantly. Looking through the Vault it should be immediately obvious if you’re interested in the games or not and, if you’re thinking of a Premier Access subscription, you’ll assess the premium games that are likely to be on offer. If the results of both please you, or if you’re a die-hard EA games fan, there’s not much in it - this is the platform for you.
If you’re not terribly interested in EA games, however, there’s not much to recommend it. And, again looking at the premium tier, users have been commenting that if you’re not much into sports games, there isn’t a lot for you. Since the manager is attached to a subscription, and the subscription is attached to a fee, if you’re not feeling the games catalog, there’s really nothing special you need to stick around to see.
Should you download it?
Yes, sure, if you’re a fan of EA Games and willing to pay a monthly subscription fee, download the manager. It’s a perfectly acceptable app that will connect you to the world of EA without issue.