I was just invited into the Battlefield 3 Alpha, and was absolutely thrilled until I read that I would need to download BF3 via Origin. “Dammit,” I thought, “I’ve been avoiding Origin at all costs since it’s condemned by practically every gamer out there.” Oh well, so I bit the proverbial bullet and played around with Origin – comparing it to Steam of course – and will now document my experience for the posterity. Try not to spot my bias.
Things I hate
- Memory usage is high compared to Steam. As soon as I started Origin, it shot up to over 120,000K (in iTunes/Dreamweaver territory) while Steam remained at a modest 50,000K despite being running for several days already.
- EXTREME lack of customization. You can’t even hide the friends pane on the right – which is absolutely useless since none of my friends would ever in their right minds install Origin. They’re already on Steam, where you can do all you’d like to customize the app via skins and whatnot.
- I can’t upload avatars. I don’t know if this is a technical limitation or just censorship. Not a fan either way.
- Terrible interaction in the store. There are no hover or focus events on things like links and images that NEED to give the user feedback when they do said actions. There’s also no loading indicator, so you need to wait for the page you clicked on to load before you have any sort of indication your click did indeed do something.
- Referring to games as “products”. Yes, they are indeed products, but it kind of makes you wonder if EA believes each game they release is a wonderful masterpiece or just another row in a spreadsheet. I don’t think the word product is even uttered at Valve.
- Mediocre selection. It will never be able to compete with Steam on this front. As far as I can tell, Origin only carries EA titles. None of those lovable indie gems like Audiosurf or DEFCON are to be seen. Origin is inferior to Steam for just this alone.
Things I don’t hate
- The interface is in one window. That’s kind of nice. But then again, there isn’t much to interface with. The store, games panel, and friends list. That’s it. Except they don’t let you hide the friends list. Dammit.
- The default [unchangeable] design is okay, albeit clunky in some places.
I basically see Origin as a bastardization of everything Valve has accomplished with Steam. It looks like they spent a lot of time looking at Steam and Games for Windows Live and just put a lot of effort into wrapping up those experiences in a different package without spending the time to polish out the details or innovate.
Origin doesn’t even need to exist. Steam is fulfilling the market’s needs quite well. All competition will do is make Steam look even better to gamers. Oh, and yes, I am quite aware Steam was just as bad when it was in its infancy, so I’m willing to give Origin another go in the future. But I doubt it will get better in the next year or two though… if it’s still around.