EA's David DeMartini has confirmed the company's interest in supporting other publishers' games through its Origin download service.
In an interview with IndustryGamers, DeMartini, senior vice president of global online, stated his belief that the "value" of Origin to the game experience will become apparent as the service rolls out with EA's core franchises over the next 3 to 6 months.
"We would absolutely welcome that kind of evolution," he said. "We have a large team of people here that's continuing to expand the Origin feature set. The social feature set, the cross-platform capability."
"If there are other publishers that would want to take advantage of our ability to reach customers or take advantage of that same feature set we absolutely would welcome that. As much as we're willing to sell our content anywhere under these high level principles we've established, I imagine there are other publishers who want to try to make their content available everywhere they can as well."
If other publishers would want to take advantage of our ability to reach customers we absolutely would welcome that
David DeMartini, EA
DeMartini's comments go some way toward addressing the concern that Origin represents a future where every publisher will have its own digital service, thereby damaging the consumer experience. DeMartini also believes that competition won't prevent other publishers from working with EA as a retail partner.
"I think in this industry 'competition' has been an element of our existence for a long, long time; for example, with the hardware manufacturers, we both make software, yet they make the platforms. This is something we've become quite expert at over the years... I think it's important that customers have choice, and what Origin is is another choice for customers."
EA's assessment is clear: if you want to win, create a better service. That is the goal for Origin and, should it succeed, that should become the goal for Steam, Direct2Drive, and other digital retailers.
"Battlefield 3 is going to win this year in the shooter category, and largely we're being driven by other great shooters that are out there," he added. "That kind of competitive spirit and landscape is what is driving our team to make Origin better on a day to day basis."
"It's great for the industry; it just makes all of these services better."
DeMartini also addressed the disagreement between EA and Valve that resulted in Crysis 2 being withdrawn from Steam: "except under extremely special circumstances," EA prefers to make its games available through as many channels as possible, but it also requires direct control over its relationship with the consumer.
"As you know, games and how they are made have both changed. Today, we continue to extend the experience with new maps, vehicles and other content that adds hours of fun and more value for our players. We also enhance the gaming experience with features like friends lists and in-game chat using the Origin application."
"Most importantly, we always want to be sure we provide this content and service at the highest possible level of quality. To ensure this, any retailer can sell our games, but we take direct responsibility for providing patches, updates, additional content and other services to our players... This works well for our partnership with GameStop, Amazon and other online retailers."
Except for one. DeMartini doesn't explicitly refer to Valve, but he states that the decision to remove Crysis 2 from Steam was not taken by EA, and that the company is, "working diligently to find a mutually agreeable solution."
"What we're doing is no different than what they have done historically with regards to how they've handled ongoing patches, etc. It seems to be a little bit of a juxtaposition that we find ourselves in agreement with everybody in the channel – everyone seems to find our policy acceptable with a singular exception."
"I do think there are some policies and principles that everybody should adhere to that are in the best interest of the consumer, and I hope they come to that realisation as well and that they believe in choice just like we do."