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Origin, EA’s answer to gaming clients like Steam, was launched in 2011. If you’re into playing new EA games on your computer, you pretty much have to have Origin, whether you like it or not. While EA is known for high prices, there are strategies you can employ to save some money.
Like all gaming clients, Origin offers some games completely free of charge. There are a few different reasons for these games being free, and some of them are only free for a limited time, but it’s a great way to game without paying a dime.
Origin offers special “On the House” games periodically. There’s pretty much always one game available as part of this deal, and once you’ve claimed it, it’s yours -- no limited time offer or trial run. You own it forever. You have to check back really often for these, though, because once they’re gone, they’re gone. You have to have claimed it during the window of time it’s available. There are no price adjustments. Other games are offered for free as part of “Demo s and Betas.” The reason these are offered is pretty straightforward -- the more people are playing the demo of a game, the more great feedback and data the developers receive, and the more likely people are to get hooked and want to purchase the full game when it comes out.
There are also “Game Time” games -- a selection of four to five games you can play free for 48 hours. It’s essentially taking the game for a test drive. Their strategy is that if you find a game you like, you might want to buy it. If you’re just looking for free games, though, this can be a great way to get quality time in with some of the bigger-name games without having to shell out the expensive prices. Last, but not least, are the straight up “Free to Play” games. These are games that are always free. There aren’t very many, but they’re always there if you’re interested.
Obviously, the “On the House” games are the best deal, so be sure not to miss any of them. Check back on an extremely regular basis to ensure you get as many free games as they’re offering.
If you’re looking for inexpensive games, check out the “Deals” tab. EA offers lots of deals through Origin, from discounted games to games that are just plain cheap.
From the Deals section, you can view games under $10 or games under $5. This is your best bet if you’re only looking to spend a very small amount of money, because every game that’s available for under $10 will show up here, whether it’s on sale or not. Bundles are another thing you’ll definitely want to look into. Origin offers bundles of games for a discounted price, and they’re generally games of the same ilk, so if you know you like one, chances are pretty good that you’ll like the others. One bundle that was available recently, for instance, was the entire Mass Effect trilogy for only $29.99, when they’re generally $20 each.
When you buy a bundle, really make sure you’re going to use all of the games in it. Or if not, calculate how much the games you are going to use would cost without the bundle. Sometimes there’s only a small discount, so if you’re only going to play three of the games in a bundle of four, it may be cheaper to just go ahead and buy those three on their own.
EA is really confident that you’re going to love every game you buy from them. Starting in 2013, they now offer a full refund if you’re not a huge fan of the game upon first play.
There are very strict rules, because they obviously don’t want you to beat the game and then return it even though you liked it. The concept is that they want you to be excited and totally love the game the first time, and they realize it’s a problem if not. So this policy only applies within the 24 hours after first launching the game, the first seven days of owning the game, or the first seven days after the game is released if you pre-ordered it, whichever comes first. All you have to do is choose “Request a Refund” on your order history page. It will show up next to any product you have that’s eligible. Fill out the refund request form, and your refund will be complete within 10 days.
That time limit means business, so make sure you play every game you buy sometime within the first week of owning it. If you wait until the eighth day that you’ve owned it to play it, the game isn’t eligible for a refund even if it’s within the first 24 hours of actually playing it.
The Origin store doesn’t have its own social media profiles, but following EA on Facebook and Twitter can be a good way to stay informed and up-to-date on sales. Their Facebook page is also one of the best ways to contact their customer service.