EA: It's never been about Origin vs Steam

EA has never been shy about picking fights with competitors, no matter how large – witness the ongoing shouting match between Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare – but the head of the company's new download service, Origin, says that's not what's going on between his platform and Valve's Steam. In a blog post, Origin head David DeMartini aims to set EA's story straight vis-a-vis the perceived Origin/Steam rivalry – which came to many players' attention when EA's Crysis 2 vanished from the Steam Store, leading many to suspect EA were consolidating their resources and preparing for a fight.

“Over the coming years,” EA head John Riccitiello told investors at the time of Origin's launch, “we're transforming EA to a games-as-a-service model.” That transformation would seem bound to bring the company into conflict with Valve at some point, with the latter continuing to pioneer the model EA seeks to adopt. DeMartini opens his post with a shout-out to the company's would-be competitor, filing the Crysis 2 matter under “misunderstandings”: at that time, he writes, word online “suggested that EA was in conflict with one of our download partners, and that we had removed our games from that service. This is absolutely not true.”

DeMartini explains that while “any retailer can sell our games, we take direct responsibility for providing patches, updates, additional content and other services to our players. You are connecting to our servers, and we want to establish on ongoing relationship with you.” Without getting into specifics, he laments that “unfortunately, if we’re not allowed to manage this experience directly and establish a relationship with you, it disrupts our ability to provide the support you expect and deserve.”

Of course, if you were to take on one of the highest-regarded outfits in gaming, you'd do well to pre-empt your attack by framing the conflict with yourself as the good guy: “At present, there is only one download service that will not allow this relationship. This is not our choice, and unfortunately it is their customer base that is most impacted by this decision.” Which is to say: EA wants to be chums with everyone, but if someone's not allowing that, what are you going to do? Far be it from us to say EA's gearing up for a scrap, then – but if the talk turns nasty six months from now, let the record show that we certainly didn't say they weren't.

What do you make of DeMartini's words on the Crysis 2 matter – and the Steam/Origin situation as a whole? Is the olive branch genuine, is he being just a bit passive-aggressive, or are these veiled fighting words?

 Jul 7, 2011


  • Draconis - July 10, 2011 7:20 p.m.

    The deal is that the map pack DLCs of Crysis 2 are sold IN GAME. This violates the rule that Valve has set. DLCs of other games are either not advertised in game or are sold directly through the steam storefront. That aside, if EA really wanted to sell the game through steam, they could've sold the DLCs from the steam stores. Now they're just either lazy or stubborn.
  • silvereye - July 8, 2011 11:06 p.m.

    @db1331 great post. Just one thing though, couldn't EA do what alot of steam associated games do already, that when you buy at retail it has to be signed through steam until you can play it, I would of assumed EA would just do the same thing?
  • moflomian - July 8, 2011 10:12 p.m.

    Yeah, EA is way over their head. How many developers work with steam? How many people use steam? Seriously. What were they thinking?
  • Crofto - July 8, 2011 9:49 p.m.

    @db1331 Very well said sir, I think you've pretty much said what most of us PC gamers were thinking.
  • Vitreosity - July 8, 2011 9:40 p.m.

    I can't wait for them to come crawling back to Valve after this hits rock bottom. It angers me that they're seriously cocky enough to think that they're really going to even be able to compete with Steam.
  • RedOutlive10 - July 8, 2011 8:48 p.m.

    Yeah right, it's not about competing with other quality games as well when EA owns the rights to every freaking league of any sport and its competitors besides MMA right now.
  • db1331 - July 8, 2011 8:22 p.m.

    @Rockmotron9000 I think 10% is being extremely generous. I would say they would be lucky to get 5%. I would buy a retail copy of BF3 from Target and add it to Steam via the "Add a non-Steam game" function before I downloaded it from Origin.
  • Rockmotron9000 - July 8, 2011 8:10 p.m.

    EA are really hurting themselves here by alienating good, paying customers. It just seems like a horrendous business decision to sell your products through fewer venues and to give them less visibility, especially when the venue that you're removing your product from is THE BIGGEST and MOST SUCCESSFUL of its kind!!!! Well said, db1331. Wonder if we should start a pool? How much of the digital download market share will Origin gain? My guess is no better than a 10 percent average. What a bunch of morons.....
  • D0CCON - July 8, 2011 8:07 p.m.

    I love how Steam operates and how patches are applied on it. Steam single-handedly made me interested in PC games again. I don't get what EA is saying at all.
  • princeofme - July 8, 2011 7:45 p.m.

    @db1331 agreed :D
  • Stinkfingur - July 8, 2011 7:07 p.m.

    Well said db1331. Not only are Valve the kings of PC customer satisfaction, but they are the pioneers of digital videogame distribution. Until Steam started to show the rest of the industry just how alive PC gaming still is, EA wouldn't have pissed on PC gamers even if they were on fire. If EA hopes to take even a SLICE of Steam's buisiness they are in for a very rude and costly awakening. There are only 2 games that will succeed through Origins. Thats Battlefield 3 and Mass Effect 3 and that's only if they're completely abcent from Steam's "shelves". Other than that...EA will be scrambling to throw their IP's back up on Steam. It also wouldn't shock me if Activision tried to do the exact same thing.
  • Jedipimp0712 - July 8, 2011 6:54 p.m.

    @db1331 i couldnt agree with you more (read above) i was going to rant as long as you, but i figured someone else would do it even more justice than i. ha ha
  • Jedipimp0712 - July 8, 2011 6:52 p.m.

    i call bullshit that the whole thing isnt to try and be a competitor with steam. i can already see whats going to happen. Origin is going to last for about 2 years (at most) because Steam is far superior and already has a fan base (along with EVERY single deal they have on a week to week basis, now is especially bright for steam). the ONLY way that origin is going to stay alive is more or less because of Battlefield 3 and possibly Mass Effect 3. Also, origin is almost a carbon copy of steam. if you look right below the logo on their page it says "Origin: powered by EA" sound familiar to "Steam: Powered by Valve" ? i think so...
  • db1331 - July 8, 2011 6:49 p.m.

    I think EA's excuse is absolute BS. I've played tons of multiplayer games like Crysis 2 on Steam, and Steam always does a great job of delivering patches, updates, and content. Sometimes I wish they would push them out at 3 AM as opposed to 8 PM, but that's another matter entirely. But for EA to say that Steam is keeping them from supporting their games like they so badly want to is laughable at best. They don't give two shits about supporting PC players in the first place. They couldn't even be bothered to copy and paste Dead Space 2 DLC for us, which is part of the reason the game bombed on PC and had to have a $20 price drop the month after release. I guess that was Steam's fault too, right? To call Origin vs. Steam a modern day David vs. Goliath wouldn't even BEGIN to do it justice. Only this time, David gets stomped on before you know the fight has even started. PC players love Steam. It already does everything we want it to do, and has all our games and friends. Plus EA will never be willing to match Steam's prices, which is the #1 reason it is so successful. I just read the digital Deluxe Edition of ME3 will only be available on Origin. Looks like I will be getting the regular version on Steam then, and EA will get less money for it. What a brilliant strategy.

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