I've heard bad things about Origin too, though I haven't used it.
Meh. For reasons I don't even want to know, there are quite a few Electronic Arts haters, and they'll go on about how bad Origin is without having used it for the last few years.
These days its just a poor man's version of Steam, it manages your EA digital games collection (and if you create an Origin account with the same e-mail address as your Steam account it can even "import" Steam games) and is the only way to get digital editions for all EA games, and little else. Unlinke Steam, It doesn't have communities, or those cards thingies, or the modding. Oh, and it also logs how much time you play the games.
Still, if you want to play say Battlefield 4 or Mass Effect 3 or TitanFall or Dragon Age Inquisition it is pretty much the only way to go. Sure, you can get them on disks (I guess lots of DVDs given how big they are) but then you need to download and install many gigabytes of patches. Origin at least does that automatically for you.
Oh, and sometimes, I don't know how frequently, they do the "On The House", where EA gives you an old game for free.