It looks like Electronic Arts wants to go head-to-head with Steam - or at least save some money by avoiding Valve's digital distribution platform altogether. This morning the company dusted off its Origin label (you know, the company founded by Richard Garriott) as the name of a new digital distribution service. EA is calling Origin a "direct-to-consumer gaming platform where consumers can find, purchase and download all the best content from EA." Origin launches today with more than 150 games. In the months ahead, Origin will be the place to purchase and download exclusive limited edition copies of EA games, including Battlefield 3 and FIFA 12, and content from EA Partners including Alice: Madness Returns and 38 Studios' Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. Later this year, digital downloads of Star Wars: The Old Republic will be available exclusively on Origin.
Also launching today is the Origin beta application. Available for download at www.origin.com, the Origin beta is a desktop application that lets users find and connect with friends, see what they are playing, and download and play PC games straight from EA.
Origin will also be available to mobile devices giving gamers access to an Origin mobile profile where they can connect and play with friends in EA's smartphone titles, including SCRABBLE and the upcoming mobile version of Battlefield 3. In the future, mobile gamers will also be able to see what games their friends are playing, as well as compare high scores.
Yes, it does sound a lot like Steam. The service is basically a rework of the EA Games Store.