EA launches 'Origin' online store

EA announced a new online storefront called Origin today, aimed at providing an dedicated home for EA and EA Partners games, with features similar to competing services.

The store already houses roughly 150 games, and EA promises it will offer downloads of limited edition versions of games like Battlefield 3, FIFA 12, Alice: Madness Returns, and Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. The announcement also teased that digital purchases of Star Wars: The Old Republic will be exclusive to Origin.

The company also launched a beta application, which can be downloaded through the site. It lets you create a friends list, check on your friends' gaming habits, and download EA PC games. It also functions as an overlay during games, not unlike Steam. A mobile application is also planned, to play EA's smartphone games and check on their friends list features from their phone.

"Origin is a game service with two fundamental features," said VP of global online at EA, David DeMartini, in the announcement. "It's a download service for the very best content from EA and its partners. It also offers a social function which, over time, will connect to a player's profile with friends list and a cross-platform feed that shows what your friends are playing and where." He also promised that the company will be adding new features and services in the coming months.

"We're committed to offering consumers direct access to great content and community in a way they have never experienced before," said CEO John Riccitiello. "Today we're launching Origin.com and the Origin beta application. Over time, Origin will grow with new functionality and unique new content that consumers can't get anywhere else."