Dabe Alan

EA’s much-hated Origin service will now let you return games, with some strings attached

EA’s much-hated Origin service will now let you return games, with some strings attached

There isn’t much recourse available if you buy a PC game that doesn’t work, has faulty servers, or that you just don’t like. EA is hoping to change that with the “Origin Great Game Guarantee Policy,” which will allow you to return certain games on its Origin service, in certain situations.

“The new Origin Great Game Guarantee works like this: You may return EA full game downloads (PC or Mac) purchased on Origin for a full refund—within 24 hours after you first launch the game, within seven days from when you purchased it, or within the first seven days after the game's release date if you pre-ordered it (whichever of these conditions happens first),” the official announcement states.

You just have to visit your order history, request a refund, answer a few questions, and that’s it. You’ll get a response within 48 hours, and the refund will come through within seven to 10 days. You’ll get the refund using whatever method you used to pay for the game, and right now this policy is only available on EA games, no third-party releases. You can get the full details from EA if you're worried about the fine print.

The snarky header image for this post was made in response to the poor way EA dealt with refund requests for SimCity. It looks like we may be able to retire it.

Are refund policies on the way?

The problem with Origin has never been that the service itself was bad, it was the fact that we had to sign up for yet another digital distribution platform that didn’t offer any benefit for the player. Steam works perfectly, all of your friends are on the service, and the frequent sales help to keep players buying. Origin, on the other hand, was always a means to an end, and it remains the only way to buy many of the newest EA games without going to the store and picking up a physical box like a chump.

The Great Game Guarantee changes this value proposition by offering players something that, at least for the moment, Steam doesn’t match. Suddenly there is an advantage to the service, at least for EA games. It’s unlikely that Valve is going to feel any sort of pressure from this deal, being the market leader gives you the ability to wait and see what players think of promotions such as this, but it’s the first time that Origin has fought back on features and convenience instead of exclusivity for big-name EA games.

Combined this with the recent Humble Origin Bundle, which has raised nearly $7.5 million for charity to date without EA taking any of the money, and suddenly you have a service that is enjoying some rare positive press.

This is also a system that is ripe for abuse if it spreads to a wider selection of games. It would be trivial to buy a game like Gone Home, beat it in one sitting, and then get your refund for the game since technically it’s within 24 hours of the first time you launched the game. Any short game that can be beaten in a sitting or two would be at risk for this behavior, and it’s unlikely smaller developers who don’t want to pad the length of their game will opt into this kind of deal.

What this promotion will do is ease the mind of players who are scared of another SimCity debacle, or who worry about server problems in general. If an EA game has a rough launch and you don’t believe it’s going to get any better, you can now get your money back. The Guarantee provides at least a little bit of peace of mind for gamers who may be on the fence about purchasing certain games.

We all win when services fight each other with customer-friendly features, and this is one of the more surprising moves for a service that many gamers claim to hate. It may not change everyone’s mind, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.