Electronic Arts has opened the doors of a new digital distribution label titled Origin, a name borrowed from a fantastic, long-running PC development team. The service is aimed at the PC only, EA either trying to avoid the cemented Steam platform that dominates the digital PC universe, or attempting to cut into their share of the digital-only profits.
EA had a previous online digital service, this re-branding thankfully bringing with it new policies. Their ancient and misguided rule of re-downloaded games, something that would cost a user $5 for access to the games they rightfully purchased previously, has been abolished. In its place is a slightly less worrisome note in their FAQ which states all downloads are guaranteed for a year, but makes no promises should acquired contracts or licenses expire after that cut-off. As a side note, physical copies never expire.
Origin is live right now with 150 games ready for download, including what EA states are "limited editions," although "limited" is a stretch considering it's digital. EA will be keeping the anticipated massively multiplayer Star Wars: The Old Republic digital rights exclusive to Origin, a definitive boon for fresh service that could see its stock rise with a prolific Star Wars effort.
If you're interested on getting involved, EA has also put up a beta desktop application that allows friends lists and other assorted features. In other words, it's Steam, but from EA and with a new spiffy name.