EA set out to provide direct distribution to customers and unlock exciting ways to deliver the gaming experience. We designed Origin—an entirely new cloud-based gaming platform that enables fresh, smart ways for people to buy, manage and play games.
Application downloads in the first year.
Users, including 17 million mobile members.
Revenue generated for EA in the first year.
EA reached the number one publishing position in Western markets.
Selling packaged games requires third-party retailers, which creates a costly barrier between EA and its customers. As EA moves to Origin and replaces packaged games with digital ones, it is also establishing stronger, more direct relationships with its customers.
A cloud-based platform enables gamers to play anywhere, connect with friends, and access a vast library of games. We designed the product’s features to be woven together with social interactions, including an achievements system, to drive gameplay and offer incentive to return.
Gamers are more loyal to an experience when they can customize it and use it to interact with friends. We conceived Origin to be social at its core. Because it’s cloud-based, players can access their accounts across devices, as well as find and chat with friends.
Origin is EA’s cloud-based ecosystem that lets players buy, manage and play digital games while connecting with friends.
Once customers install the Origin app on their PC or Mac, they have instant access to hundreds of games in the digital store. They can either search by name or sort by genre (e.g. action, puzzle) and rating (e.g. teen, 10+).
Individuals can access and manage their games wherever they are, filtering the layout to create custom displays.
We designed a system that tracks players’ gaming achievements as well as friends’ progress, giving them the ability to compare stats and compete against one another.
The Friends List shows gamers which of their friends are online and what games they’re playing. In addition to chatting, they can invite each other to play.
The power of Origin is that gamers can access their account across multiple gaming systems.
Origin will enable gamers to connect and play with friends on PCs, consoles, smartphones and tablets, accessing their Origin account across platforms. While the focus remains on digital commerce, customers can also purchase physical games for Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and handheld devices, directly from the Origin Store.
Digital distribution gives EA new ways of interacting with customers. The relationship doesn’t end when the game is purchased—it continues within and beyond each game. It’s built to be flexible, social and profitable.
What if players could purchase add-ons or upgrades, such as an individual map or a suit of armor, seamlessly during game play? Micro transactions like these will result in substantial sales.
If an individual pre-orders a game, EA might include a bonus game or a promotional code for future use. Within the game itself, EA can create similar opportunities to sell upgrades or limited edition items.
Social interactions can prompt purchases as well. Consider a player who is invited to a game on a specific map, but he doesn’t have that map. He should be able to purchase it and begin playing simply by accepting the invite.
“Over the coming years, we will transform EA from a packaged goods company to a fully integrated digital entertainment company.”
To optimize the gaming experience, EA relies on a series of tools to manage its data. We redesigned those tools as a modular, user-friendly system. EA’s customer support team uses this system to track server activity, adjust resources, monitor gaming stats, explore leaderboards, and, in short, ensure quality and performance across games.
Through an analysis of EA’s existing data, we were able to identify how information was used across different sections of the tools. We used those informational patterns as a basis for aligning the system, creating a consistent interface, and further optimizing the gaming experience behind-the-scenes.
EA set out to accomplish a lot with Origin. We helped them evaluate the importance of each potential feature. Then we created a roadmap that batched features into releases, with the first release focusing on giving players the ability to buy and manage games.
We created a series of prototypes that EA used internally and externally to guide discussions about the application. These click-thru demos, designed to simulate use of the app, were used for internal reviews with the board of directors as well as for user group testing.
Even while tackling individual user interface and design issues, we approached this engagement as a cohesive design system—one that EA’s in-house team relies on today. They use this collection of UI elements and guidelines to extend the platform.
Digital platforms that combine commerce, publishing and social engagement can redefine the relationship between customers and businesses.
We’re taking what we learned from Origin and applying it to other industries. Here are two of the most valuable takeaways.
The power of sophisticated digital platforms is that they enable businesses to create high-quality, carefully orchestrated customer experiences—such experiences begin well before a purchase, make buying easy, and follow through by supporting ownership.
This kind of carefully considered, long-term approach to building relationships with customers is no longer limited to boutiques.
People's connections with brands are both emotional and functional. Emotional connections shift slowly, while functional connections change along with product and feature modifications.
Digital platforms are now making it possible to connect with customers over long periods of time on a functional basis—delivering valuable services, information and benefits that transcend individual products.