Despite appearances, EA claims there’s no bad blood between it and its biggest competitor.
When EA launched its Origin digital distribution platform in June 2011, it caused quite a stir in the PC gaming crowd. EA titles vanished from Steam’s store, retroactively making them Origin exclusives. As Origin grew, EA continued to widen the gap by criticizing some of Steam’s business practices – EA’s David DeMartini has said that Steam’s frequent sales “cheapen intellectual property” that developers work hard to create. However, the atmosphere of bitter competition between the two digital giants may be exaggerated, according to EA COO Peter Moore.
“There’s no feud,” Moore said, speaking at Gamescom. “Remember, we’re the guys who published Left 4 Dead and Portal 2. It’s Valve. Gabe’s a great friend of EA’s. We’re a great friend of his, we like to think.”
Moore says that Origin’s continued independence from Steam is not strictly a business decision, but representative of a difference in vision between the two companies. “They have different terms and conditions that they put on their games that don’t meet what we would like to do with our gamers. They insist on being a layer between the game developer and publisher and the consumer. They take a piece of the revenue stream. And they don’t allow us to go directly to the consumer to do patches and updates. So we just agree to disagree. It’s not a feud. They have their terms and conditions. We do. They don’t meet. So we go do what we do, and they’re doing very well at doing what they do.”
Valve has kept up an attitude of respectful neutrality towards Origin. While the terms and conditions of Steam aren’t likely to change just to suit EA’s preferences, Valve boss Gabe Newell has expressed interest in bringing EA’s games back to Steam, saying, “We’d love to have their games on Steam. We think their customers would be happy if their games were on Steam. We tell them that on a regular basis.”
EA has considered bringing their titles back to Steam, but it doesn’t look likely unless Valve budges first. “We’re very clear on what we want to do to be able to put a game on a platform and interact with the gamer,” Moore said. “The current terms and conditions of Steam don’t allow that. If they change to meet the contract with the gamer we set out to do, then of course things might change. But until then, nothing’s going to change.”
Moore’s plans for Origin’s future involve making the platform “stickier,” adding more value to the users and their gaming friends. “That’s our goal. We’ve got to make this the place you want to go to to play your games, find your friends, buy your games, interact with the games themselves. We’re building community layers in there each and every month as it develops. You’ll see updates all the time. It’s got to enhance your gaming experience in simple terms. That’s our job, to be able to do that.”