EA launches Origin digital distribution service with SWTOR exclusive

Friday, 3 June 2011 04:54 GMT By Brenna Hillier

John Riccitiello’s mysterious description of EA as a platform wasn’t as abstract as it seemed. The mega-publisher has officially launched its own digital distribution service.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier today that EA was pushing strongly onwards with its initiative to embrace digital by launching a Steam-like distribution service.

BioWare’s MMORPG, Star Wars: The Old Republic, will not be sold through rival distribution channels, although boxed PC copies will be available.

Called Origin, the service utilizes a client program and what sounds like specialised DRM – again, like Steam or even iTunes.

The service offers various social features, presumably building on EA’s current online identity system to sport leaderboards, status messages, and likely game-specific integration alá Dragon Age’s links with the BioWare social network.

Interestingly, the service will not “initially” offer console games, according to WSJ, suggesting EA may be pushing to see the service on more than PCs and Macs in the future – which makes some sense, given the generally weak (but rallying) slice of market share the PC holds.

Riccitiello described the platform as one of the “cornerstones” of EA’s continued digital push, which has also included a strong mobile gaming presence and increased DLC activities. After several years of financial disappointment, EA’s shares have risen 48 percent over the last six months.

EA is expected to formally detail the service at its E3 event, but you can sign up and download it now.

The reveal of EA’s digital distribution service comes hot on the heels of a deal with Good Old Games to release its back-catalogue, which seems quite incongruous.

Thanks, Massively.