Play4Free Is No More: EA Debuts Origin Free To Play

By Nathan Grayson on December 13th, 2012 at 8:01 am.

If you have anything even vaguely resembling a working knowledge of the English language, you’ll probably agree that Play4Free – EA’s diabolical label for its gaggle of free-to-play offerings – was painful, difficult to look upon, and probably responsible for the deaths of millions. But now, on this happiest of days, EA’s kicking it to the curb in favor of Origin Free to Play, a long-overdue reorganization under the service’s woefully anemic (though largely harmless) umbrella.

EA explained the oddly timed switcheroo in an extremely traditionally EA sort of way:

“Why change to Origin Free To Play? The main reason is convenience for players – Origin now becomes your single destination for paid downloadable PC games and free-to-play games alike. Sign on to Origin to play the latest and greatest expansion pack in the Battlefield franchise, or jump into a Need for Speed World race. That’s the beauty of integrating on Origin – all your gaming content in one place, and the choice is yours what and where you want to play today.”

You can now apply a single login to all free-to-play and Origin games too, so if you were only signed up for Play4Free, you’re now technically an Origin user as well. Hooray?

It’s a handy feature, I suppose, but this is the biggest Origin update news we’ve seen in months. And before that, we got a clock. Sure, convenience is all well and good, but it’s hard to buy into EA’s big plans for PC when they’ve yet to really go anywhere after all this time – well, except for some rather worrisome places. Who knows, though? Between this and SWTOR’s slow (not to mention problematic) move to the F2P side, maybe the mega-publisher’s just getting all its ducks in a row for something much, much larger. I highly doubt it, but you never know. If, however, that’s the case, this is one instance where I really hope they decide to do it right rather than fast.

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50 Comments »

  1. Discopanda says:

    If SWTOR is any indication of EA’s overall game plan for free to play games..l think the outlook is bleak.

    • ch4os1337 says:

      Battlefield Hero’s is the best F2P EA game but easily the worst is Need for Speed World, the entire game is about who paid for the best car and bought the most in-game consumables (essentially legal cheats).

      • Bedeage says:

        If you choose to play an F2P game it is only your fault if you get bitten in the arse by someone with more money than sense.

        • Hmm-Hmm. says:

          Eh.. not necessarily. It really depends on how the game’s f2p model is set up.

    • mehteh says:

      Its EA, the outlook is always bleak

  2. The_Great_Skratsby says:

    Problematic and a mess best summarises all of EA’s free to play games I’ve tried.

    • Premium User Badge

      strangeloup says:

      You can remove “free-to-play” from that sentence and it’s still probably about 80% accurate.

  3. MadTinkerer says:

    EA is still publishing Free To Play games! The only way I could be more apathetic to this news is if it were Activision or Ubisoft publishing F2P games!

    (Oh wait, Battlefield Heroes is one of them? Well I’m slightly less apathetic then. Still not infecting my computer with Origin just to play BH, though.)

  4. Premium User Badge

    Crimsoneer says:

    Origin has actually improved pretty dramatically. Integrated Twitch streaming is pretty damn sleak.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      Agreed. Organization is still a complete mess, but at least they’ve streamlined the overall experience. They still need an option to add older games to the client though.

      It runs better than Steam ATM.

      • f1x says:

        Better than Steam, you mean performance wise?

        • SkittleDiddler says:

          Yes, performance wise. It opens after a few seconds, the interface is more user-friendly, and I like the games library setup. Best of all, it doesn’t hang for me like Steam tends to do every few minutes. It’s a speedier experience.

          • SominiTheCommenter says:

            How many games do you have on Steam and Origin? Steam would run well, if all it had was Battlefield 3.

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            If only that were true. Steam was hanging for me from day 1.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            “How many games do you have on Steam and Origin? Steam would run well, if all it had was Battlefield 3.”

            Who knows that for sure? I’ve got 32 games on Origin ATM, and we’re simply speculating as to how well it would run with 400. All I can tell you is there are other factors besides a large library causing Steam to freeze up and hang — I never had those issues until the horrid Community update they did over the summer.

        • f1x says:

          I respect your preferences,

          even tho I never had hang problems with steam, true is that sometimes it takes a bit to initalize but yes noticed that is happening after increasing considerably my games library

      • Haxavier says:

        Streamlined? That’s nice to know. I’ve had Origin since BF3 was released and after a couple updates I simply cannot get the stupid thing to actually launch and run. It runs its little update downloader then when I attempt to run it any and all of the 4 different launchers they have in the Origin folder, nothing happens. No process shows up, nothing.

        So how do I fix this? I have to (and I shit you not) copy and paste in an entire updated Origin folder from a computer in which their Origin runs fine. And then it runs. The worst part is there are many, many other people who have this problem with the updater and EA still hasn’t figured an actual fix to the problem. But a simple folder transplant works…that is some truly ridiculous crap there.

        I’ve been running Steam since 2002 and I’ve NEVER had to do something as primitive as that to get it to run. And to be frank, Origin is a lot leaner of a client because it does so much less than Steam does. EA and the rest of the other publishers are still miles away from achieving the level of user features and games that Steam has had for a long time already.

        • SkittleDiddler says:

          That sucks. Aside from some of my Mass Effect 2 items not installing correctly, I’ve had almost zero issues with Origin lately. Conversely, Steam gives me nothing but trouble and runs like a drunk sloth since the Community update. Honestly, Origin was a nightmare early on, especially when it came to integrating older EA games (I still can’t play MoH Airborne since I installed Origin), but it’s improved massively in the last few months.

          What we need is a universal, open-source game client that freely integrates games from every publisher. That would be tits.

          • EPICTHEFAIL says:

            As I pointed out a few weeks back, there`s a reason it says “beta” at the top of the screen. Currently it runs much better than Steam for me, while also not being not nearly as big of a hassle to run games with, as opposed to Steam`s obsession with notifying you every time a sheep farts in New Zealand.

          • MattM says:

            Steam>View>Settings>Interface Tab>Notify Me about additions or changes to my game, new releases, and upcoming releases checkbox.

    • Kadayi says:

      The client definitely seems speedier and the DL speeds are excellent, but they need to offer up some options with regard to the owned games display, lists, custom labels, groups etc.

    • SuicideKing says:

      True, the problem isn’t Origin really (though i do wish i didn’t have to deal with Origin, Steam, Uplay or worst of all, Games for Windows Live) but battlelog, i still can’t understand why i have to double click, wait 60 seconds or more, click again, then wait some more for the game to load. And what if i have to play multiplayer? launch the game again and again and again if i have to change the server.

  5. SanguineAngel says:

    “all your gaming content in one place” – they make origin sound a bit better than it is here. As far as I am aware, Origin still only encompases EA games.

    PS plus Origin is still insisting on uninstalling mass effect 3 every bleeping time I put it back on.

  6. Caiman says:

    The Origin store is still very much EA GAMES ARE HERE, HERE ARE SOME MORE EA GAMES, DON’T FORGET THESE EA GAMES. (other shit over here)

    Steam isn’t shy about pushing its own games especially TF2, but at least the store pages don’t knock you over the head with it. I really don’t like Origin’s approach at all, plus the prices for Australians are well into the “fuck right off” zone. I half expected the free games to cost more for us.

    • f1x says:

      Yeap, sometimes there is TF2 advertising or promos, but I’m not sure thats because “hey its from Valve” or because of the fact that is still one of the most played games on Steam
      On the other hand for every “Valve” advertising there are one thousand other adds about other companys games, small games, the greenlight thing is also pretty neat

      Thats something EA needs to decide and improve, if they want to use Origin as a showcase for EA catalogue, then its fine aslong as they market it like that no problem for me
      But if they want to market it as a pure game center they better start favoring other companys catalogue aswell

  7. ghling says:

    Great, now you only need to hack one account login to rip off characters in multiple games. Let the scam begin.
    Then again, it’s origin and EA, so why do I even bother?

  8. Zarunil says:

    Is it possible to disable the annoying Spotlight pop-up that starts every time you launch Origin yet? I really disliked getting the same ads shoved in my face every time Origin started up, and it is the main reason I stopped having Origin auto-start with Windows. Since I only use Origin as a launcher for Mass Effect 3, I rarely visit it anymore.

    • Kadayi says:

      Under settings you can tell origin to open on your games menu rather than the store if that’s what you’re on about.

      • Zarunil says:

        That’s not it. I’m talking about the advertisement that pops up in a separate window when you launch Origin.

        Perhaps they’ve removed it since I used it last.

        • SkittleDiddler says:

          No, it’s still there. There’s no way to disable it.

  9. Premium User Badge

    Phinor says:

    Origin is so much fun. You get a popup ad everytime you stop playing a game. Seriously, how fun is that?

    I’m also still not over the fact that they decided to remove the ability to list your games in the my games section. Now the options are either huge goddamn pictures, or goddamn huge pictures, neither of which really suit my PC gaming needs.

  10. The Godzilla Hunter says:

    My favorite part of Origin is how I can’t switch the language!

    Obviously, since I live in Korea I speak Korean! And I would have no reason for switching my language!

    Yeah. I’ll stick with Steam, until EA decides that they want my money.

    • JohnnyK says:

      Works fine here. Origin => Application settings, first tab

      • Zikzor says:

        That only affects the client. Not the store page. I can change my client to any language I want but I can’t change the stores language.

  11. Sayori says:

    Fuck EA.
    I tried to play BF 1942 which is free and I got invalid CD key… Uh, what?! So far no response from support, not that I actually care, I deleted the game.

  12. RProxyOnly says:

    EA could pay me and I still wouldn’t install Origin.

  13. sinister agent says:

    But it’s not a single “destination” for games, is it EA? I already have games from Steam and Impulse, and I much prefer Gamersgate to both of them, and GOG even more.

    The single place I want all my games is on my computer, not on some pain in the arse third party system. Sure, some people want the cloud thing and to have everything available elsewhere, and that’s fine – give them that option. But for some of us that’s irrelevant, and we just want to play our games without joining yet another pointless wanking club.

  14. Judas says:

    Origin remains a Trojan Virus on your PC.

    I won’t install Reckoning because of it.

    EA is too Hostile for my wanting to play a game.

    If you don’t know, Look it up.

    • Unaco says:

      I had a Google… nothing about Origin being a ‘Trojan Virus’ as far as I can see. I had it installed for the BF3 Beta, and it was as easy as clicking Uninstall to uninstall… didn’t replicate itself, didn’t spread to other machines on my Network, didn’t cause hassle when removing it. So not really a Virus. Similarly, when I had it on, it didn’t do anything beyond downloading/installing/playing BF3 and trying to sell me other EA products… No ulterior motives to it, no Trojan function to it.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      That whole “Origin is a trojan program” was disproved a long time ago. It’s easy enough to find that out for yourself — you can start by downloading a process manager like Process Monitor and running it in along with Origin.

  15. zaprowsdower says:

    EA’s business model is to continually release new, crappy products instead of fixing the products that are currently broken. BF3 is the last EA game that I throw my money away on.

    • xenoss says:

      I no longer buy EA games. Not even out of spite, or trying to send a message or some shit like that.

      They just genuinely don’t make games I want anymore. And the ones I’m interested in, I expect there to be issues that greatly detracts from the experience like all EA games for the past decade and more. BF3 on PC still not having VOIP, for example.

      I just don’t want their products, simply and truly. I wonder how many people are like that now?

      • MadTinkerer says:

        It’s been a while since I last bought an EA game. I never consciously boycotted them (at least, not this decade), but it’s been a while since they released something I’m interested in. And I’m 100% not interested in F2P, period.

        I’m looking forward to DA3 (Have 1, skipped 2), the new Sim City, and a few others, but it seems like ever since Darkspore, DA2, ME3, and a strange rash of other horrifically awful sequels, EA have just dropped the ball on everything except maybe arguably SWTOR which I hear is all right.

        • xenoss says:

          They have no straight up success. SWTOR is widely joked as TORtanic, and it did sink pretty fast. The game may be good or bad, but the public perception is generally bad.

          ME3 is widely said to be a good game, and yet marred by the ending fiasco and how the decisions they said would make a difference did not make any differences.

          DA2 was an open disaster for all to see.

          BF3 no Steam announced weeks before release, forces Origin, forces Battlelog.

          SWTOR goes free to play with restrictions that are generally seen as annoying (from what I gathered).

          It seems like every release from EA is either uninteresting (MoH) or is promising but plagued by bad or unnecessary decisions.

  16. Urthman says:

    I love listening to gaming podcasts and hearing people say things like:

    “So is that game free?”

    “No, it’s free to play.”