EA launching Origin digital download service to challenge Steam

Tom Senior at

The Old Republic thumb

EA have confirmed that they're launching a digital download service to rival Steam. A full announcement later today promises more details, but for now Eurogamer and the Wall Street Journal are reporting that the service will be called Origin, and will have a PC focus, with more than 150 PC games for sale on launch. It'll be the only place you can buy Star Wars: The Old Republic digitally when it's eventually released.

Built-in social networking services will pull friends lists from Facebook and other social networking sites. Users will be able to create profile pages that will monitor their progress in their games, and will be able to chat with others and form friends lists. Like Steam, Origin will be powered by a downloadable client.

In future Origin plans to spread to smartphones, providing additional downloadable mini-games alongside their major game releases. EA have already followed a similar tactic with games like Dead Space, but Origin plans to consolidate these games into a more convenient single service. It's unclear at the moment whether Origin will replace the EA Store, but we'll know more when EA make the official announcement later today.