The Death of 'Origin On the House'
The End of an Era in Free Gaming
Between the unveiling of The Sims 4's Seasons expansion, Battlefield V's closed alpha and some miscellaneous announcements about Unravel 2, Electronic Arts managed not to bring my attention to the fact that they ended the only service for which I followed them. The Origin platform's “On The House” game section has been ended permanently as EA rolls out updates to the Origin Access subscription system. Ironically, it seems to me the only reason to keep Origin installed now is to have access to the games EA previously gave away.
I am a thrift gamer—if I can get a game for free, I will obtain it. If a particularly enticing deal is offered up, I may well leap on it, otherwise the only games I typically buy are for collection purposes (i.e. physical copies of older games). That first qualification for games I will obtain is what originally alerted me to the existence of Electronic Arts' Origin platform. Generally, I couldn't tell you what game originally sparked my interest in the platform, but conveniently a brief look at the games I own will allow me tell you, with relative certainty, that I downloaded Origin to obtain a copy of Theme Hospital. A long last relic of my childhood, this Bullfrog game still offers me many moments of joy and frustration to this day.
From there I developed a sort of love/hate relationship with Origin's On the House system. Logging into Origin once every day for the last two years, give or take, has been tedious to say the very least, especially during those periods when games did not change for three to six months at a time. Really, how long did Peggle need to be on the house? It was so tedious, in fact, that I nearly missed copies of a few games such as Jade Empire. Fortunately, my wife was always there backing me up, and with her help I did obtain most of the offered free games that I cared about.
This was a relatively beneficial offering by Electronic Arts as well, as it was only the presence of the On The House system that brought me onto the Origin platform, where I took part in several sales, including that of the entire Command & Conquer collection (which I have now basically come to own on three separate occasions), Battlefield 4—which I only now own because I happened to obtain several expansions for free, and saw no point without the game, and yes I even sinfully bought Star Wars Battlefront when I received the Season Pass “on the house.”
On The House has blessed me with a fairly large number of games I would not have looked twice at otherwise as well. For starters, whilst a majority of my friends have offered Dragon Age: Origins very high praises, I have never considered buying the game given my fondness for The Elder Scrolls and Neverwinter games, who has time for all these RPGs anyway? But when Dragon Age became available On The House, I picked it up and played it right away. Alongside the above purchases of Battlefield 4 and Battlefront, both of which are shooters that I generally wouldn't give a second thought (the original Battlefront 2 will always be the best) I picked up copies of Medal of Honor Pacific Assault, Dead Space and Mass Effect 2. Then there are some more unique titles in the On the House lineup, such as Nox, Syberia II and SteamWorld Dig, that I obtained as part of the promotions and was rewarded relatively handily for. The most notable perhaps of all of these was actually Dead in Bermuda. My wife and I poured several hours into that game, without ever beating it, and I will forever look back on it happily.
So I say farewell to thee, the only reason for Origin to exist, perhaps some day the “Moneygrab” overlords will return you to us, until then, I shall keep my eyes to the horizon, seeking further opportunities to game for free.