Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Gamesspacer
View All     RSS
July 25, 2014
arrowPress Releases
July 25, 2014
PR Newswire
View All





If you enjoy reading this site, you might also want to check out these UBM Tech sites:


EA's DeMartini: 'It's Never Been About' Facing Off With Steam
EA's DeMartini: 'It's Never Been About' Facing Off With Steam
July 6, 2011 | By Leigh Alexander

July 6, 2011 | By Leigh Alexander
Comments
    18 comments
More:



Electronic Arts is trying to take a clear stance amid ongoing discussion among gamers and industry-watchers about what its new Origin platform means for its relationships with other digital distributors. The company's official stance is that if an EA game doesn't appear on another digital download platform, then it's by that platform-holder's choice, not the publisher's.

David DeMartini, who now heads EA's Origin platform, sought to clarify the publisher's position in a new blog post today, and he tells Gamasutra: "On how we operate with all of our partners, both retail and digital distributors... we will make our content available to everybody. Of course they have a choice as to whether or not they carry that content."

The "800 pound gorilla in the room," he tells us, is Valve and its Steam service. When Crysis 2 -- which originally sported a misleading "only on Origin" tag on EA's new storefront -- was recently removed from Steam, many presumed it was because of discord between EA and Valve over their respective online platforms.

"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. "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."

"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."

According to DeMartini, EA wants the ability to manage its own relationships with the consumers, suggesting it may encounter troubles from platform holders who don't permit that. For him, it's a brand-new angle on EA's relationship with Valve -- before heading the Origin group, DeMartini led EA Partners, which saw both companies benefiting greatly from distribution partnerships around major titles.

"I've worked with [Valve] for five years," says DeMartini. "They're really smart, they've done a great job with Steam, and I just find it interesting that some of the ways they've built their business are specifically some of the areas of conflict between us on a going forward basis. That said, I have mad respect for them as game makers and people. They've built a great service, and there are times in any relationship that you find yourself in conflict."

"Occasionally, you just both feel very strongly about a position that you believe in, and that doesn't mean you've lost any respect for each other -- it's fundamentally you don't agree on how a certain thing should be handled," DeMartini adds. "In this particular case, we feel incredibly strongly about our responsibility on a going-forward basis as it relates to our own IP."

The Origin teams are working on expanding the service's feature set in the hopes of making it a worthwhile choice for gamers around EA's key IP.

"Every one of the significant franchises is working with us to integrate more and more between the game and Origin," he says. But meanwhile there's no line in the sand: "I am absolutely not at this point saying, 'hey, it's Origin versus Steam,' he explains. It's never been about that."


Related Jobs

Activision Publishing
Activision Publishing — Santa Monica, California, United States
[07.25.14]

Senior Online Programmer - Central Tech Online
Activision Publishing
Activision Publishing — Santa Monica, California, United States
[07.25.14]

Online Programmer - Central Tech Online
Raven Software / Activision
Raven Software / Activision — Santa Monica, California, United States
[07.25.14]

Technical Director - Central Tech Online
Vicarious Visions / Activision
Vicarious Visions / Activision — Albany, New York, United States
[07.25.14]

Environment Artist-Vicarious Visions










Comments


Alan Rimkeit
profile image
Yeah right. Misinformation is the most important part of a face off with a potential enemy, even in business.

Alex Leighton
profile image
So maybe I'm just missing something, but if they believe in giving people the freedom to buy from wherever they want, why is the dlc not available on Steam?

Michael Thornberg
profile image
Because Crytec signed a deal of exclusivity with another provider I think. :/ At any rate, this is a case where I think Valve should change their policy. That one could hurt their business.

Phil Nolan
profile image
It's not about Steam it's about OnLive.

Alan Rimkeit
profile image
Oh right, because OnLive has proven it self to be a viable business model.

Alan Rimkeit
profile image
OnLive may or not work. When it makes profits for a significant amount of time then it is a winner. Until then, well, who really knows right?

Phil Nolan
profile image
Where is the down side I wonder? EA spends a few days, maybe a week, porting their game to OnLive, and they have a whole new demographic to sell to. mac users, low end PC users, tablet users, heck even smartphone users. They don't have to pay for packaging or distribution there either, there's no way the games can be pirated from there. It's win-win for everyone.

Alan Rimkeit
profile image
" there's no way the games can be pirated from there. "



Never say never Phil. People used to think streaming video could not be captured. It is now. People will figure out a messed up way to capture the games. I don't know how. But they will someday.

Michael Thornberg
profile image
Doesn't matter. Ultimately it's a games version of windowshopping. The quality will suffer when gamers don't have the patience to play games, as they can switch between them as easily as changing the channel on tv. I really don't think that is a good thing. Not to mention the fidelity loss in the games themselves. It's like listening to music with cotton in the ears.

Duong Nguyen
profile image
Thats a technological limitation and technology marches on, better compression, higher bandwidth, cloud friendly games, etc.. eventually it reaches a point where the cost / benefit for the consumer makes it the better choice and that point is coming up fast.. imo.

Alan Rimkeit
profile image
@Duong Nguyen - Yes higher bandwidth will happen. But at what cost? I keep pointing that the ISP industry is salivating at the idea of bandwidth caps and the like.



Ask Netflix about the issue. And if anyone expects the problem to get better I think that person has too much faith in the ISP industry. Profits ahead of customers right?

James Cooley
profile image
I like Steam. I use it for everything that I can get on it. Heck, I even replace disk copies of games when the Steam versions are on sale (like I just did with Bioshock).



If it comes down to a choice between otherwise equal competing titles, the one with Steam availability will prevail.



If you choose not to have your product on Steam, that is your business. However, please know that I will prefer to give my business to Steam. So, you will lose some sales in my case.



I also endured the hassles of having Fallout 3 on Steam with the DLC on GFWL. I had to manually cut-and-paste games files to differing folders to get the DLC to work. Never again.

Kevin Matthews
profile image
It's really amazing how such a gigantic company with literally millions to throw around is just so bad at public relations. Is it any wonder they didn't immediately announce they were buying Popcap? People would stay away from Plants vs. Zombies as if it gave you the bubonic plague by playing it.

Eric Cartman
profile image
DeMartini's eyes are staring straight through my soul.

Aaron Truehitt
profile image
I think it's a bad picture honestly. He really has a derp face in this picture.

Atlin Yabuki
profile image
If Steam happened to be a packaged goods outlet instead of digital distribution everyone would be outraged with them.



What if GameStop (for example) decided that after you purchase any title, that you had to buy all expansions and additional content for that title only from GameStop. This would be laughed at for the joke it would be, but the only reason they don't try this tactic is they lack a way to follow through. GameStop does not have mechanisms in place to monitor what happens with the products they sell.



Steam and GameStop are retail vendors. Don't mistake the motives, Valve is trying to protect their consumer base not their consumer.

warren blyth
profile image
No, this would be like setting up your own counter inside Gamestop to sell your own expansions and additional content. Of course Gamestop would throw you out of their store.



Steam is not a packaged goods outlet which you visit and leave. It is a continuous service that stores your credit card information, and runs in the background updating your software.



if your software tries to mange it's own separate system for sales and updates, then the original Steam service is damaged. You could no longer rely on Steam to handle these tasks across all your games.

Atlin Yabuki
profile image
That first statement is misleading, because EA wants Steam to sell games. A sale is a sale regardless. Using your analogy it would be the same as EA setting up a counter inside GameStop but still sending everyone through the same register.



Just because Steam stores your credit card information and monitors your actions in the background does not change the fact that Steam is a vendor. It exists to sell games at a profit. Irregardless if they give you a box and a physical disk.



The games industry is moving to digital distribution and micro transactions, and developers will want to monetize this to combat game re-sales. If someone wants to take a cut they better come up with a damn good reason. Blizzard was the first to avoid Steam for this reason with World of Warcraft. If Call of Duty starts utilizing in-game sales they will need to renegotiate with Steam as well. EA just happened to be first. Now the consumers are suffering while EA and Steam argue over slices of profit.



That all said, i do believe they will resolve the issues. Steam wants their cut of the money, EA wants to interact with their consumer directly. Now they just need to haggle over the compensation steam wants.


none
 
Comment: