Electronic Arts is trying to salvage its reputation with gamers, and it's starting with its Origin digital distribution platform. Earlier this week, it donated millions of copies of high-quality video games to charity in a pay-what-you-want Humble Bundle promotion, and today the publisher is taking the unprecedented move of offering full refunds for downloadable titles. The company's calling it "The Origin Great Game Guarantee."
"...even just if the game doesn't play well with your video card — we've got your back."
There are catches, of course, but there seem to be surprisingly few. As long as the game is published by EA itself, and as long as you ask for a refund within 24 hours of the first time you launch the game or within 7 days of purchase, the money should come back to you. "If something doesn't work out — you aren't riveted by the storyline, or sucked in by the action, or even just if the game doesn't play well with your video card — we've got your back," writes EA in a blog post. The refund program is rolling out worldwide over the next few weeks.
Presently, none of EA's rivals offer anything close. Steam doesn't offer refunds or exchanges of any sort, except for pre-order cancellations. At Amazon and at GameFly, all digital sales are final. Good Old Games will offer a replacement game of equal or lesser value within a week of purchase, but only if you've never downloaded your purchase in the first place, while GamersGate extends that same offer to 14 days as long as the game hasn't been used. Origin itself used to be as closed-minded as the rest where refunds were concerned, even during the SimCity server debacle. But now, EA alone will let you actually try a game to see if it runs properly on your computer before the money is permanently separated from your bank account. We're curious to see if the move gets a rise out of Origin's rivals, particularly Steam, whose owner Valve also publishes many games.