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EA: There's no strain on our relationship with Valve

Mon 03 Oct 2011 7:00am GMT / 3:00am EDT / 12:00am PDT
Publishing

Jens Uwe Intat says industry is "pretty good at competing and co-operating at the same time"

EA has stressed that the publisher still has a good working relationship with Steam owner Valve, despite the launch of its rival download service, Origin.

Head of EA Europe, Jens Uwe Intat said he sees the relationship between the two companies continuing well, to the extent that he expects Valve to continue to pick EA to publish and distribute its boxed product.

"Valve is run by very clever people, and I would say that's also true for Electronic Arts, we're all good business people," Intat told GamesIndustry.biz.

"So, Valve, when they're looking for distribution for their products, looking at which publisher could actually do that, then I think we're the best publisher on the planet, both in Europe and North America.

Every first party manufacturer is a partner of ours when we're distributing their product, and a competitor of ours with their own software.

Jens Uwe Intat, Head of EA Europe

"We have a long history of distributing Valve products and I think for every title they will look for who will do the best job. There's no strain on that relationship because we're competing in one space.

"We're basically competing and working with a lot of people. Every first party manufacturer is a partner of ours when we're distributing their product, and a competitor of ours with their own software. I think, as an industry, we're pretty good at competing and co-operating at the same time."

Speaking as part of a series of interviews conducted at Gamescom, published in full today, various Electronic Arts executives spoke about the launch of Origin, which they believe will become much more than a place to buy games. Newly promoted COO Peter Moore was keen to play up its social aspect.

"It will absolutely become a social network," says Moore. "I'm already using it every day to see what friends are doing, to understand what coming from EA, plus you'll see announcements over the next few weeks of third-parties coming on board and having their content becoming available. We love the fact that we can deal directly with our consumers."

"I'm not sure we're taking them on," Moore continued. "We're a great compliment to that business.

"We want to be able to support our customer directly. If there are opportunities to do that, then we'll do that. If Valve, through Steam are willing to allow us to do that, then there are no issues whatsoever. In the instances where you're not seeing a game on Steam, it's primarily because we can't deal directly with our consumer to resolve issues and do things we want to be able to do."

Tensions between EA and Valve had been assumed to be high after various EA published games vanished from Steam's storefront after the announcement of Origin. EA has always insisted that the omissions were simply down to technical issues related to patching, and Valve has remained silent on the matter.

25 Comments

Kaneda Maskell Engineer

14 0 0.0
Origin is a terrible content delivery system.

The fact that EA didn't even bother to make a half decent piece of software and instead opted to force people into using their inferior product by removal of their games steam is disgusting and then lying about wanting more control is even worse.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Kaneda Maskell on 4th October 2011 9:33am

Posted:3 years ago

#1

Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game

1,254 421 0.3
I really would love to know how well digital sales of games on Origin relate to what they would be on Steam. Is the stategy working how EA hoped, pushing up the uptake of Origin, or will it instead push down digital sales of BF3?
Are EA's partners, lime Crytek happy with the move? Have the numbers put them at ease, or have digital sales been embarissing compared to what Steam could have brought?

Posted:3 years ago

#2

Kaneda Maskell Engineer

14 0 0.0
I would imagine there will be little drop off in sales but nothing much. I know several people who've decided to avoid Origin and I'm guessing they're are more out there.

And comparing client base, Steam is almost hitting 30 mil compared to Origins 3 mil.

Posted:3 years ago

#3

Luke Stephenson QA Technician, Codemasters

8 1 0.1
I imagine the actual numbers will be somewhere in between. They may lose a few BF3 sales but at the same time it's a major game, and large numbers of people will bite the bullet and get Origin. Myself included, I would rather use Steam but needs must. Also, it's not a bad piece of kit, so I'm not too gutted I had to install an extra piece of software for Battlefield.

Posted:3 years ago

#4

Alan Pierce Programmer, Digital Delight

63 19 0.3
@Luke, and the browser plugin.

Posted:3 years ago

#5

Kaneda Maskell Engineer

14 0 0.0
Origin is not bad, its terrible ,)

They've had 5-6 years to learn from steam and yet they haven't done one thing better. The fact that Origin is missing so many basic features and has taken 2 steps backwards is shocking.

Posted:3 years ago

#6

Liam Stockley Studying Computer Science, Nottingham Trent University

24 0 0.0
It would be interesting to see how much of this is just posturing.

Posted:3 years ago

#7

Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game

1,254 421 0.3
What I don't get is how little of their back catalogue EA have got up on there. I would think, future plans for including other publishers not withstanding, on an all EA download portal you'd want everything good EA have done. Ok, I just want Jungle strike:p
But seriously, they allowed free downloads of the first 3 C&C titles a few years back, why not stick them on Origin. Or maybe they did, but I got confused by the unfriendliness of the interface.

Posted:3 years ago

#8

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing

1,136 1,174 1.0
I thought it was funny when Steam had a promotion for EA titles and Origin did not. Buy in one place, put the CD-Key in at another.

But hey, at least it is not the Ubisoft store. You haven't seen crazy until you bought a game at Metaboli. Or tried, I dare you get further than trying to buy a game there.

Posted:3 years ago

#9

Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd

1,020 1,467 1.4
Steam does not force publishers to provide their DLC and patches only on Steam. They require them to provide them on Steam in ADDITION to anywhere else they choose to provide them. Steam requires this in order to ensure they are able to keep games and DLC patched and up to date for all purchasers on the service (automatic updating has always been a huge draw for Steam). EA does not want to provide this content on Steam AT ALL. It's not like Steam is keeping them from selling products through in-game stores and other sources in their games. It's that they don't want to give consumers that option, or at least they are using that as the excuse to keep games off of Steam. Regardless, it's absolutely silly on EA's part.

Posted:3 years ago

#10
Its all about trust though, we like steam because we know our money is safe, just like iTunes with music. Main reason the android market place hardly has any credit card users assigned to it. I live in Coventry UK, and it is impossible to find PC games in stores, so I rely on digital stores, I cant bring myself to add my card details to this new service. So yes, not being on steam will effect their PC digital sales by quite a bit and even force some people to download the cracked version.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Luke Davis on 3rd October 2011 4:16pm

Posted:3 years ago

#11

Abraham Tatester Producer

71 53 0.7
Never mind that Origin is a horrible piece of software, but what about how horribly invasive it is? (To anyone unaware of this, google "ea origin data mining.") Quite simply, I refuse to install that bloated hunk of spyware on my PC.

I loved Mass Effect and ME2, so ME3 is something I would pre-order if it were on Steam. Thanks to Origin, I'll be forced to buy the boxed product. <strong><em>But if EA's boxed product starts requiring players to install Origin (something I'm expecting—after all, Valve games require an installation of Steam), then I may never play a new EA game again—ME3 included.</strong></em> Anyone who cares about their privacy will likely do the same.

Posted:3 years ago

#12

Nic Wechter Senior Designer, Black Tusk (MGS Vancouver)

32 68 2.1
The initial implementation of Origin might be bad, but then does anyone remember Steam when it started out?

It was universally panned and despised by players.

I don't think it will do the consumer any harm for Valve to have a bit of competition and while I like having all my games in the one place, I can deal with running Origin as well if it lets me get cheap games and easily play with my friends.

Posted:3 years ago

#13

Kaneda Maskell Engineer

14 0 0.0
I gladdy welcome competition between content delivery systems and as it breed innovation and the customer will ultimately win.

However this time around EA pulled a dirty trick as they realised that Origin could not compete with Steam, so the only way they could get decent customer base was by essentially using blackmail. This is what burns me, they've had so long to create a robust and true competitor to steam by just copying steam's best functions and working on out performing steam on it worst. But they didn't, they went for cheap and quick.

Posted:3 years ago

#14

Joshua Moore Freelance Writer, Engineer

5 0 0.0
I'm pretty sure everyone is forgetting that BF3 will also come on disc, so there's no reason to use Origin for PC players, thus it shouldn't harm sales TOO much.

Posted:3 years ago

#15
While competition is healthy, EA made the wrong move on this one.

I see many of my friends avoiding Origin for the simple fact everyone has used Steam until now, and people is simply not willing to change to a new client that is very inferior to what they use now, Steam. I see half of my friends pre-ordering on retail and the rest not buying the game at all simply because it's not on Steam.

People will not start using a new client just because of 1 game. Doesn't matter how good the game is. EA is basically blackmailing their customers. This will not increase Origin sales. It will have the opposite effect.

From the 2 dozens of friends I have playing the Battlefield 3 beta, not a single one is using Origin's social features and only a handful actually browsed the Store tab out of curiosity. The prices are insane when compared to Steam or even retail shops. We simply turn off all the Origin social tools and enable the Steam Overlay. That's how people is bypassing Origin and unless EA finds a way to ban the steam overlay, that's how people will do for a long time.

The question EA should pose is, Why do people prefer Steam? The simple answer is "because it's better." Unless Ea comes up with a service that is better or cheaper than Steam, people won't move.

Posted:3 years ago

#16

Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game

1,254 421 0.3
@Joshua, but MW3 is a physical product AND on Steam.
Actually, BF3 is enough of an event that those interested will find it, and Game should stock it. But for most titles, there are very few large bricks and morter stores that have much of a PC game selection left, and a lot of PC gamers now purely buy digitally as that is the way they have been steered. Amazon should do well out of it though.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Andrew Goodchild on 3rd October 2011 6:51pm

Posted:3 years ago

#17

Stephen Venables Producer

5 0 0.0
@Nic - I certainly remember when steam was first introduced, everyone reacted to it as they do now to Origin. I also remember the steam chat taking a good few years until it worked with any reliability.

Posted:3 years ago

#18

Stephen Venables Producer

5 0 0.0
@Nic - I certainly remember when steam was first introduced, everyone reacted to it as they do now to Origin. I also remember the steam chat taking a good few years until it worked with any reliability. Personally I don't really care about the social features of any platform, I mostly talk with everyone on TS, it does make life easier to join friends in games though, something that I think EA has done well with the battlefront thing. And finally I quite like the look of Origin and hope EA does invest in it as it does have potential. And rally finally, apologies for the wall of text, I can't seem to enter a line break on the iPhone.

Posted:3 years ago

#19

Stephen Venables Producer

5 0 0.0
Geh, apologies again for the double post of the first bit, I thought it was editing the previous post as all the text was still in the box. GI.biz need to improve the app in my opinion :p

Posted:3 years ago

#20

Alan Pierce Programmer, Digital Delight

63 19 0.3
Yet you didn't learn with your third post! ;)

Posted:3 years ago

#21

Anuj Malhotra Studying Business Management, Imperial College London

31 0 0.0
Again, it's not actually competition at all, it's reducing the availability of their games so they can fix prices and monitor behaviour. That competition line is so much bullshit in every press release.

EA are releasing a lot of comments about the relationship but the really clever party is Valve staying silent. EA are smoking something fierce if they think Valve will roll over and distribute their boxed products through EA again, just like that.

I give it a six months before EA games start popping up on steam again.

Posted:3 years ago

#22

Matias Christensen Game Developer, Rock Pocket AS

1 0 0.0
While i do love steam, and buy every game i can there. Only exception being want the collectors edition of a game. I do however worry that valve might be getting a bit to large in online game distribution market. Monopoly's are never good for the end-user.

It sucks to have my games spread between multiple online distribution services, but the competition will in the end be a good thing i think.

Posted:3 years ago

#23

Steven Wemyss Senior QA Engineer, Avalanche Studios

33 31 0.9
The problem with Origin is that it offers absolutely nothing to the consumer - It's 3 things: a download client, friends list and shop front. The shop fronts just a web interface to an overpriced selection of games from one publisher, the friends list does not work with any of the games (even BF3 requires you to import your friends list). The only part that's decent is the download manager and that is just EADM renamed...For BF3 Players Origin offers utterly nothing as all the major functionality, including patching it looks like, is done via Battlelog.

In comparison to EA it offers 100% of the sales profit, access to all important marketing information and a way of advertising directly to the players.

For all of this we're forced to suffer the ridiculously invasive EULA which I'm loathe to use as it basically gives them the right to scan my PC which given I play a fair bit at work is downright invasive. Oh and give another untrustworthy source all our details yet again, not like we haven't been seeing a string of hackings recently and I cant blame people for trying to minimise the number of places that hold their credit card details...

Posted:3 years ago

#24

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,590 1,446 0.9
@Joshua - It's already been confirmed that the retail discs of BF3 come with Origin, and that BF3 forces you to use Origin.

And I agree with Anuj - EA isn't actually that interested in competition at all. Go and try and buy Dragon Age 2 DLC. The *only* place it's available is the EA run BioWare store. Same with Mass Effect 1/2 DLC. Origin is, I think, an extension of that exclusivity, of that desire to grab every single dime they possibly can for themselves. Which, fair enough, they're entitled to do. But it's at the expense of the consumer - no-one can say that EA store games are cheaper (and thus a better deal for the consumer) than Steam's store. Even Amazon beats the EA store in terms of prices, and they have shipping and distribution overheads.

Posted:3 years ago

#25

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