Before starting to answer the question of what Origin Points are needed for, what they can be spent on, and whether there is any practical or at least virtual way to use for them at all, I will allow myself to give a short story from personal experience. Do not be confused by the seeming detachment of the topic of my story. Take your time to scroll the page: believe me, this is directly related to the answer to the question about Origin Points.
So, once I worked at school and, in particular, taught language and literature to children of 11-12 years old. The term “gamification” was invented twenty or so years after these events, so the decision that I want to talk about sprang to my mind quite unexpectedly.
In an effort to keep the discipline and involvement of children in the educational process, I divided one part of the board into three columns according to the number of rows and began to draw a line with chalk for each success of the entire row – correct answer, hard work, etc. And in the same way, I erased lines if the kids began to play around, get distracted, or lazy. I had no idea what kind of competition would unfold in the classroom for these ghostly awards!
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Origin points and the chalk lines
To be brief and clear, the Origin points which players get from spending time in EA games, are exactly the same chalk lines but invented to engage adults. The same way, as I, being a teacher, was looking for a method to keep the children’s attention on the lesson’s topic as long as possible, the producers of Battlefield, FIFA, Apex Legends, and other popular games are interested to get maximum devotion from users. They need to induce gamers to immerse themselves deeper and deeper into the virtual world, striving for new intangible records, and to spend more and more time on the company’s servers.
The only difference between my school experiment and EA’s gamification is that for my lines on the board, which disappeared with a single movement of a rag, the children paid with the knowledge that they received for free at school. As regards Origin points, players pay real money, buying more and more time on the game server and getting useless pixels as a reward.
Everything is damned expensive, but somehow … cheap
There are many ways in the gaming industry to encourage aspiration to achievements that players get in games – whether by spending hours on game servers to improve their skills or just buying additional items and skills. The budgets of modern games are orders of magnitude higher than Hollywood blockbusters, and psychologists and neurophysiologists are involved in their development.
Every moment in the game is calculated with mathematical precision: how often you should receive rewards in order not to get bored, but also not to get fed up. In what sequence should the bonuses alternate to keep you excited about the anticipation of surprises? How arduous the tasks should be, so that, on the one hand, they do not relax you with their ease, and on the other hand, they do not turn out to be so toilsome that you decide to give up trying and leave the game. Numerous hooks keep you close to the screen, activating your hormonal system and adapting to your individual psyche. Just imagine how much money is spent on all this!
After all, EA games have Bioware Points – a kind of game currency that can actually be exchanged for some downloadable content, for instance, for Mass Effect Trilogy or Dead Space Trilogy.
Against the backdrop of all this, for more than eight years, starting in May 2013, players who spent hundreds and thousands of dollars playing on Origin servers receive as an award for their loyalty nothing but meaningless pixels, for which there is no use at all.
I wonder: what is it, the greed of the developers or a subtle psychological move proposed by scientists who come up with more and more new ways to pin gamers on a virtual needle that is more than tangible in terms of money?
It’s strange for me. Within a few days, my 11-year-old students realized that the chalk lines on the blackboard cannot be touched, put in a pocket, exchanged for something worthwhile, or at least bragged to their parents. But Origin points exist already for eight years! Users write to the Customers service and ask: here, I have accumulated Origin points, what should I do with them? And get an answer: Nothing. Just be proud and earn new ones. And for this, spend more time playing our games, because there is no system for getting Origin points, they just appear and all you can do is just admire them.
What is the purpose at last?!
Over eight years, users have been asking the same question in different languages: What to do with Origin points, and what, in general, are they needed for? And they invariably get the same official response: Origin points celebrate your achievements in the game. Go to the “Achievements” section, and you can see them there. That is all, actually.
Let’s be fair, seeing that the meaninglessness of Origin points causes not as much gamers’ bewilderment, as irritation, the Customer Service changed a bit their rhetoric and began to answer that the company is still pondering the best way to convert them. But developers and vendors still haven’t figured it out yet. A very little time has passed yet, so we must wait…
Lest you think I’m misrepresenting the facts, here’s a direct quote from the official website: “This is just the beginning — big plans for achievements and Origin Points are in the works, so stay tuned.”
As you can see, there is no time frame. And eight years was clearly not enough.
Everything we know about Origin Points in one place
- Origin Points are a kind of emblem of your achievements in EA games.
- In essence, Origin Points are synonymous with your achievements. Just like achievements, Origin Points cannot be converted or monetized.
- Users often confuse Origin Points and Bioware Points. In fact, all they have in common is the word “Points” in the name.
- The only application that can be found for Origin Points is to look at them and be proud of yourself, the same way as you could be looking at statistical charts of your successes.
- From a psychological point of view, Origin Points could be considered equivalent to a like sign in social networks. For gamers focused on external approval, waiting for the next Origin Point should trigger the extra release of dopamine. Dopamine is a hormone responsible for the anticipation of a reward, not the pleasure of receiving it. Thus, the main purpose of Origin Points is to serve as an additional tool for the growing of dopamine addiction to the game in a gamer.
- Another purpose of Origin Points, which, apparently, is implied, but not announced in any way on the official resources of Electronic Arts, is the following. This is the bright and convincing way to show that although representatives of EA Games constantly say how much they value the loyalty of their gamers, in reality, they are ready to invest in the development of means of psychological influence on them, but not on the search for ways to reward them for their devotion.
If you want to give at least a semblance of meaning to the very fact of owning the Origin Points collection, you can create a club of owners of this ephemeral award and brag to each other about the time spent on the Origin Games servers.
So does Electronic Arts Games have no loyalty reward program at all?
Yes, but very peculiar. In order to understand what its sophistication is, you should carefully study the information on the official website of Electronic Arts. The main thing that follows from it is that to become a happy reaper of the fruits of EA’s immense gratitude to its gamers, you should legally reside in any locality in the United States of America, besides Massachusetts.
Bioware Points, already mentioned several times, are a virtual-tangible expression of EA Games’ gratitude.
Unlike the ultimately useless Origin Points, whose sole purpose is to decorate your achievement page, Bioware Points are in-game currency in the Electronic Arts gaming universe.
You can make in-game purchases for Bioware Points and use them for some other purposes, which are announced by the developers on their official website.
However, on the same site, these same developers officially declare that they reserve the right to terminate their loyalty program at any time without prior warning. In this case, all the points and bonuses you have accumulated will be automatically burned and cannot be restored. You agreed with all this when you clicked the appropriate button, accepting the User Agreement.
What follows from all this?
- Origin Points are hot just totally useless for you, but they are by no means quite harmless. Along with many other psychological and neurophysical tricks, this seemingly meaningless feature contributes to the development of your gaming addiction. So while being meaningless to you, Origin Points are filled with deep meaning to the developers of the games you pay your money for.
- If you are so fortunate that you are legally residing in the United States of America, and at the same time, you were lucky enough to avoid settling in Massachusetts, you can count on a modest reward for your loyalty from Electronic Arts Games. But at the same time, be prepared for the fact that at any moment this meager trickle of blessings may dry up, and all your accumulated points, not waiting for midnight, will turn into a pumpkin. So make no store of Bioware Points for yourselves on your account, where it may be turned to dust by Electronic Arts, but spend them as soon as possible for whatever you want. And you will be blessed for your wastefulness.
What else can we add to this? Perhaps only that a negative result is no less productive for life experience than endless achievements. Even if these achievements are adorned with numerous Origin Points. But once you find out that you will never be able to benefit from these badges under any circumstances, you can finally get rid of illusions and fully devote yourself to the game.