When EA introduced its Origin service in June of 2011, it seemed like the closest thing to real competition that Valve’s Steam platform had ever seen. The publisher had the cash and clout to populate Origin with tons of highly sought after downloadable PC titles, and its extensive experience in online gaming virtually guaranteed that Origin would feature state of the art community support features.
Unfortunately, Origin has long been criticized for its oppressively draconian ban system. For almost an entire year anyone who was banned on any facet of the service (whether it be for cheating in an online multiplayer title or from the Origin forums for saying something untoward to the wrong person) had their ability to access Origin’s titles completely revoked — and yes, this includes those offline games that shouldn’t even need Origin connectivity to function properly.
As Gaming Blend points out however, that has now changed. EA has updated the service to allow banned players access to their offline content. “If you find yourself with a disabled account, please note that you can still play EA games in single-player mode,” Origin’s revised Terms of Service states. “For PC games you will need to enable Origin’s offline mode to play games with a disabled account. Go to the settings tab in Origin (the gear icon) and select Go Offline.”
Obviously those banned from online titles for cheating will remain stricken from those games’ populations.
This comes as good news, no doubt, but as Gaming Blend also points out Origin is still far from perfect. Leave your account inactive for two years and EA is free to delete all of your stuff. For that matter, even when you’re in the firm’s good graces, Origin’s software can and will monitor your computer (though EA claims this is merely to prevent cheating and piracy).
Whatever the reason, it seems unlikely that Origin will dethrone Steam any time soon, if only because those gamers savvy enough to rely on such services are notoriously quick to anger over issues of privacy and virtual ownership. Plus, Origin lacks anything capable of competing with the addictive (and free) gameplay of Team Fortress 2.