Since EA announced its new digital distribution network Origin, speculation has been rife that this is an attempt to go head-to-head with market leader Valve’s Steam service.
This speculation was compounded when EA-published Crysis 2 was removed from Steam, even if EA later clarified that this was due to a disagreement over DLC between Valve and Crytek.
In his company blog and an interview with Gamasutra, head of the Origin platform David DeMartini seeks to clarify the reasons why EA is launching its own network: “Obviously when a big publisher comes up with their own application and launches a site where you can buy games directly, people immediately jump to the conclusion that means they’re going to exclude everyone else,” DeMartini says, “but that’s not what’s going on here.”
He insists that the Crysis 2 situation only had to do with DLC: “Crysis was taken down because the DLC was not available through Steam; it was available through [Direct2Drive]. That would, I guess, be a situation where two partners didn’t see eye to eye, and by their choice, they were going to take that product down because they were insisting that the DLC be available through Steam.”
The point he is trying to get across is that the launch of Origin not will mean that EA products won’t be available on other digital platforms: “We believe in absolute freedom of choice to allow customers to buy through whatever retail outlet… as long as they’re buying an EA game, we’re delighted,” he says.
“We feel like if you buy the product with Origin, where we’re going on a long-term basis is we’ll integrate some of the Origin feature set into many of our highest-profile IP… but by all means if your preferred retailer is Best Buy or Direct2Drive or Impulse or Steam or Amazon… we’re going to make our product available to you.”
Nevertheless, given John Riccitiello’s recent statement about wanting to build a closer relationship with consumers, it is hard to imagine that EA won’t give its customers some serious incentives to get involved with Origin. For now, though, the numerous Steam supporters can rest a little easier, it seems.