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Retail

Newell: EA's Origin shouldn't be a "zero sum game"

Newell: EA's Origin shouldn't be a "zero sum game"

Mon 23 Apr 2012 7:48am GMT / 3:48am EDT / 12:48am PDT
BusinessRetail

Valve managing director expresses concern over Origin game exclusives

Valve's Gabe Newell has advised EA that creating a digital distribution platform for its customers should not be "a zero sum game."

Speaking on the Seven Day Cooldown Podcast - as reported by Eurogamer - Newell addressed EA's decision to make a number of key releases exclusive to its Origin service.

"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," he said.

"I think EA wants to take their shot at building their own alternative to Steam, and if they're successful at that and their customers like that then that's great.

"As we learn about this stuff we're all going to be making things better for other gamers. Tim Sweeney [Epic Games] doesn't look at Steam and say 'F***, we shouldn't support that because that will hurt long term sales of the Unreal Engine'. He's like, 'that's pretty cool, that's pretty useful.' So hopefully EA get their head to the same place."

Newell initially seemed reluctant to respond to questions regarding his thoughts on Origin, but he eventually conceded that EA wasn't, "doing anything super well yet."

"They have a bunch of smart people working on it but I think they're still playing catch up to a lot of people who have been working in the space for a while. I think they're recognising what the challenges are with building and scaling out this kind of system.

"That's not to say they won't build stuff in the future that is useful to software developers or to gamers, but they haven't done that yet."

Newell made his debut on Forbes' annual billionaire list this year. The magazine estimated his wealth at at least $1.5 billion due to his minimum 50 per cent share of Valve, which receives a significant amount of its revenue from Steam.

In February, EA revealed that Origin generated $100 million for the company last year. However, COO Peter Moore believes that the service needs at least two years to reach its potential.

36 Comments

Martin Rohatynski
student

14 0 0.0
Origin needs time for sure. Let's face it, Steam was a train wreck in the beginning and the sole reason people got it was for Counter-Strike 1.6.

Posted:2 years ago

#1

Morville O'Driscoll
Blogger & Critic

1,573 1,418 0.9
See, here's the thing:

Origin isn't competing with Steam as it was circa 2003. It's competing with how Steam is now. Value the digital distro systems on their merits in the present day, because anything else shows bias to EA. You can say all you want about how Steam took an age to improve, but show me Steam as it is now, and Origin as it is now, and then ask me which is better. Then replicate that scenario across the entire PC marketbase.

EA shouldn't have looked at Steam, violated the Steam ToS (to force Valve's hand in removing EA games) and then produced something inferior. It's epically bad business sense. Peter Moore says Origin needs two years to reach its potential? Does that mean that Origin will be like Steam is now, or like Steam will be in 2014?

Also, Gabe Newell - speaking from the book of the plainly obvious since forever. :p

Also also:

Origin is just EA Downloader, renamed, with a couple of other things thrown in. That means it's been around since 2005. If you take that into account, "Origin" has clearly had more than 2 years in which to reach its potential.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 23rd April 2012 11:13am

Posted:2 years ago

#2

Curt Sampson
Sofware Developer

596 360 0.6
Morville, the point of comparing Steam as it was and as it is now is to show that it is indeed possible in this area to take an unimpressive product and turn it into a great one. If Valve can do it, EA at least has the possibility of doing it. And getting there should be an easier and faster job for EA since they're following behind someone who's done it before rather than blazing a new trail on their own.

As for taking a couple of years to do it, that's no surprise at all. As anybody who's run a business knows, criticising someone else's business is much easier than doing it yourself. It's no surprise that EA's product wasn't perfect from the get-go.

Don't take this, by the way, to mean I'm saying that Origin will be as good as Steam in a couple of years. I'm just saying that it's a possibility, if EA can do a good job of improving it.

Posted:2 years ago

#3

Morville O'Driscoll
Blogger & Critic

1,573 1,418 0.9
True, true. In that sense, yes, Steam is a very good example. But then the question becomes, "Does EA have the time, money and inclination to concentrate on making Origin better?". Whilst Steam grew initially because of Valve forcing it onto customers, and then became better due to Valve focussing on making it better, I do wonder whether EA will just give-up on it after awhile. They have a considerable user-base now, due to BF3 and ME3, so now is the time to start improving the service and infrastructue for those who have it.

Posted:2 years ago

#4

Andrew
Animator

148 158 1.1
From my perspective I already have Steam, I have a lot of games on Steam, I really don't want or need two platforms to deliver me my games.

Now, I also have Origin, the only game I have on that is BF3. So, when the next game I want comes out what am I most likely to buy it on...well, obviously Steam. If it is an EA exclusive one of three things will happen:
- I will buy it on XBOX360
- I will buy it on Origin because I really want it on the PC
- I won't buy it at all

I really don't see how they can draw customers away from Steam in any meaningful way. But, I guess, the continued interest in PC gaming can only be a good thing for the PC in general.

Posted:2 years ago

#5

Klaus Preisinger
Freelance Writing

1,129 1,161 1.0
It does not matter which service a game enforces you to use. It matters which service you browse and look around for games. That is still Steam.

If both services were music shops, Origin would be the one selling top 10 records from two different labels and Steam is he giant music store which has virtually everything and then some.

Compare features as much as you want. In the end, the money is paid for the game, not how many features the automated download client throws at you. Good news for EA exclusives, since the Origin service is not in the way of anything. Even better news for Steam, they got the games.

Posted:2 years ago

#6

James Prendergast
Research Chemist

735 432 0.6
I'd like to see the question turned around on Valve:

Why aren't their games on competing services?

Posted:2 years ago

#7

Peter Dwyer
Games Designer/Developer

482 293 0.6
@James

Touche :)

Posted:2 years ago

#8

Morville O'Driscoll
Blogger & Critic

1,573 1,418 0.9
@ James

Tis true, they could do games through other services. Possibly they believe that no other digital service can provide as much as they can - things like immediate patching, random updates (how many mutations of L4D2 have come and gone?), and Steamworks achievements all favour their own platform. Given how much effort it apparently takes to have certification through G4WL, I can easily see why they don't use every service out there.

Also, fyi anyone who's interested - Valve games are available to buy digitally through one competing service. GameStop's Impulse. Though the keys they give out still have to be registered on Steam, this is comparable to Saints Row: The Third being sold on Origin, which is also Steamworks, and thus requires registering the serial on Steam, or BF3 being sold on Green Man Gaming (same thing with regsitering serials, just on Origin).

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 23rd April 2012 2:32pm

Posted:2 years ago

#9

Joshua Rose
Executive Producer / Lead Designer

191 81 0.4
@Morville: Sure, Valve games are available to buy digitally on Impulse, there are even many other Steamworks Games that are available on other platforms. But the distribution of a key and the requirement of registring said key on Steam, is barely half the battle overall.

In doing this, Valve has artifically monopolized (in some ways) many games to being Steam only. Sure, the other company gets the initial sale, but they dont get the customers, Steam does. So when that person buys the game on say GMG (Green Man Gaming), an upcoming digital distribution company that is attempting to rival Steam, that person then gets the key code from GMG, they may even download the installer from GMG (I know this is possible), But then when they go to install the game, Valve/the game publisher has forced this user to put a rival of GMG's client on the customers computer.

Okay, so they needed Steam to install the game: okay, no big deal I guess. But can GMG launch the game from inside their client without Steam appearing? Have you ever tried to launch the individual EXE of a Steamworks game without hitting the shortcut or a quicklaunch shortcut? Know what happens? Steam launches.

Steam initially launches just to run the validation on the product and the key itself, yes. But later on after the user has exited the game, they dont just see their empty desktop, they see advertisements from Steam.

So a rival company, even when getting the money from the initial sale, they still are forced to give the customer over to Steam no matter how much they do that's potentially better than Steam.

Anybody who wonders why there aren't many other digital distribution companies to compete against Steam? Please See Above.

Posted:2 years ago

#10

Morville O'Driscoll
Blogger & Critic

1,573 1,418 0.9
@ Joshua

A lot of what you say is true. But, equally, a lot of what you say relates to Steam also being a form of DRM. Not only that, it's one of the few forms of DRM that 1) work, and 2) don't infuriate the customer.

Yes, the competing company really only benefits from the initial sale. But the same can be said of games that use SecuRom, Tages, or Ubisoft's DRM. In all those cases, the initial sale is made, and then the customer has to put-up with a malformed piece of easily piratable DRM. The customer gains nothing (no achievements, no friends list, no Daily Deals), but gets the annoyance of the DRM.

Regarding your point about "But can GMG launch the game from inside their client without Steam appearing?" No, it cannot. Because Steamworks enabled games are a form of DRM - Shogun 2 is an excellent example. Not only does it have all the benefits of a Steamworks game for the consumer (achievements, Steam overlay etc), but Steam's CEG-protected exe means there's still no working pirated release of it. (Yes, there's a crack, but the crack is not only out-of-date, it only worked occasionally due to the number of CEG triggers).

In this way, Origin is actually in-between a zero-sum DRM and Steam - it's an easily crackable DRM (the only reason BF3 hasn't been cracked is because people care about the multiplayer), that forces itself onto the taskbar and pops-up adverts. The consumer has to put-up with a sub-standard digital distro service that the pirates never have to see. EA and Ubisoft also do the exact same thing of selling keys through third-party sites. To use your example, I buy Anno 2070 from GMG, I still have to run Ubisofts DRM, even if I execute the game from the GMG client.

I think a good discussion of Steam/Origin and digital distro generally needs to separate out all the threads that run on these services. I was actually going to touch upon this in my previous comment, but thought it would be a better discussion if someone else raised it. Cheers. :)

(multiple edits to improve spelling. I can't type today.)

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 23rd April 2012 3:27pm

Posted:2 years ago

#11

Felix Leyendecker
Senior 3D Artist

182 202 1.1
@ Morville

So you're saying that if Origin was "good" DRM, then it would be perfectly fine if ME3, BF3 etc are exclusive to Origin? Or do you think there should be no exclusives in that sense, and everything should be available on all distro services?

Posted:2 years ago

#12

Morville O'Driscoll
Blogger & Critic

1,573 1,418 0.9
I think everything should be available on all services, absolutely. Ideally, I would like one serial that I could register on the service of my choice, so if at some point G4WL became better than Steam, I could buy an EA game on Steam (because it was cheaper than Origin, say), and register it on G4WL. That is absolutely the best situation for the consumer, and would nullify any arguments about monopolies.

However, not all services are as good each-other (see my point about G4WL certification). Moreover, all companies want to leverage their own retail points-of-sale, because this is a business, and Steam and Origin have shown that forcing DRM into the equation changes things, if only because it's a way to leverage the client onto the consumer's computer. At that point, to me, it becomes a question of "What service/DRM most benefits the consumer?"

Steam is (reasonably) hassle-free DRM that works, has good deals, decent prices on games not in deals, a very nice chat system, and is obviously striving to be better. Due to all of this, EA not placing their games on Steam becomes an annoyance to me - not because I'm anti-Origin, or anti-competition, but because I'm anti-things-that-are-worse-than-Steam.

If Origin improved, I still wouldn't like the exclusive-nature of BF3, but it would mean that the consumer was using a better DRM/digital distro service. And in place of my ideal world outlined above, I could at least accept that Origin was providing some decent form of competition, even if it was using anti-competitve methods to force people to use it.

(If that helps. :) )

Posted:2 years ago

#13

James Ingrams
Writer

215 85 0.4
STEAM will be the bell of the party until it's the only internet retail company left, then watch what happens! This industry is so short sighted and nieve about companies like STEAM!

Posted:2 years ago

#14

Tim Carter
Designer - Writer - Producer

570 315 0.6
Mr Newell, you must realize that exclusivity is a way to make it possible to FUND PROTOTYPE DEVELOPMENT!

Exclusivity leads to the possibility of PRESALES - which Steam doesn't offer. (Of course, I doubt that Origin does either, but let's just talk about exclusivity there.)

The film industry runs on an exclusivity model. That is, distributors get exclusive rights for certain territories.

What this allows is for the distributors to then make purchase-orders - pre-sale. In other words, they can literally buy a film before it's made - based largely on statistical risk analysis, and looking solely at what the key talent is and their plan to make the project.

Without exclusivity, there is no incentive for a distributor to make a pre-purchase of a film.

Exclusivity is the way forward for talent to get projects made without literally having to mortgage their houses or their children's education fund in order to fund a prototype.

Posted:2 years ago

#15

Morville O'Driscoll
Blogger & Critic

1,573 1,418 0.9
I honestly can't see Steam being a bad monopoly, but that's personal opnion, nothing more. Objectively, it's not like monopolies always win in the long-run anyway - look at Game/Gamestation (a virtual monopoly in bricks-and-mortar videogaming).

Edit:

Also, an obvious competitor to Steam, that isn't Origin? Ask yourself what happens when Windows 8 launches with the god-awful G4WL built-in? That's going to be... interesting. (Though I doubt G4WL will be built-in on European versions of Windows).

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 23rd April 2012 5:07pm

Posted:2 years ago

#16

Tim Carter
Designer - Writer - Producer

570 315 0.6
If you support two platforms you're going to be supporting talent in the end.

Talent sure as heck doesn't win with one monopolistic digital distribution platform.

Posted:2 years ago

#17

Tim Carter
Designer - Writer - Producer

570 315 0.6
Morville, you might want to go beyond the game industry when looking at the negative effect of monopolies.

Posted:2 years ago

#18

Morville O'Driscoll
Blogger & Critic

1,573 1,418 0.9
@ Tim

I wasn't saying that there aren't negatives to monopolies, just that the markets that have monpolies aren't always dominated by them (edit to add "in the long run". Grammatically, a market that has a monopoly is dominated by it. It's been a long day, okay? :) )

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 23rd April 2012 5:34pm

Posted:2 years ago

#19
SO, is Valve product going to be available on Origin any time soon?

Posted:2 years ago

#20

Roberto Bruno
Curious Person

104 69 0.7
@James: Actually, they are now.

Posted:2 years ago

#21

Joshua Rose
Executive Producer / Lead Designer

191 81 0.4
There is a very large difference between Steamworks and most other DRM, and I'm not talking about the CEG executables. Im talking about the fact that their DRM is linked into a client desktop software in which it promotes and distributes other games.

I'm not saying this is bad in any way, but this is a very VERY anti-competetive practice, and very different from SecuRom or Ubisoft DRM, they don't have an integreated client in which they try to sell other games, they are strictly a DRM solution. When you have a DRM solution -exclusively- integrated with a digital distribution platform, you monopolize all purchases of ANY game that has it's DRM integrated.
Yes, the competing company really only benefits from the initial sale. But the same can be said of games that use SecuRom, Tages, or Ubisoft's DRM. In all those cases, the initial sale is made, and then the customer has to put-up with a malformed piece of easily piratable DRM. The customer gains nothing (no achievements, no friends list, no Daily Deals), but gets the annoyance of the DRM.
The same can not be said of SecuRom, Tages, or Ubisoft's DRM because those companies are NOT trying to act as a digital distribution platform. They get a royalty based on the number of purchases due to the DRM's usage. They don't care who's selling it, they get money regardless. But you take another up-and-coming digital distribution company that also has their own DRM solution integreated into their client, lets say they can even support other DRM solutions such as SecuRom, they can not effectively sell Steamworks games, because they are being forced into an anti-competetive practice simply by selling the game.

So, their only option is to either, A: Not sell the Steamworks games that are coming out nowdays, miss out on distribution of new release titles due to Steamworks DRM, and eventually go out of business because they cant keep up. or B: Sell Steam codes to new customers, who will then have to go Steam and register the code, which cuts out the original distributor, and then they effectively lose the customer. They could even have the same exact features as Steam does, but since the customer has to register the key on Steam, no amount of 'bells and whistles' on the client software will make a damned bit of difference "in the long run". In return, these companies, because they lose sales to Steam, also end up going out of business...

So, how is this not a monopoly? How is this not a barrier to entry created by Valve to eliminate the possibiltiy of effective competition? Capitalism revolves around competition, which allows retailers to compete to offer the best possible option to the consumer. When you're left with this situation, where even most PC games purchased in stores even have Steamworks, you're left with a totalitarian control over the purchase, distribution, and enjoyment of any PC based game, by one single entity... Again, how is this not a monopoly?

Posted:2 years ago

#22

Roberto Bruno
Curious Person

104 69 0.7
You gentlemen can argue all you want, but the fact is that the gamers and customers themselves made the choice: client free is better, but if it needs to have a client, then let it be Steam.

I'm not even going to list the many perfectly valid reasons why this is the case, but here's the thing: when pretty much every single developer or publisher was fleeing away from the PC market and retailers were shrinking their shelf space for PC games, Steam almost single-handly relaunched the PC software sales and create a service that is perceived as a community infrastructure at least as much as it is perceived as a store.

Now people who almost pissed on this market suddenly are realizing that there are profits to make and they aren't fine enough with selling software, no.
They are actually trying to fragment this strong PC community in minor branches, each one branded with their logo and store.

Problem is: no one cares about their store and brand, they want to play with their friends where their years-old community is.
Any time they are forced to do otherwise they (quite rightfully) perceive this as an annoyance.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Roberto Bruno on 23rd April 2012 6:26pm

Posted:2 years ago

#23

Tim Carter
Designer - Writer - Producer

570 315 0.6
Robert, you seem to be saying that we should permit one company to establish a chokehold on the PC digital game distribution industry in order for some short-term convenience of gamers.

Posted:2 years ago

#24

Morville O'Driscoll
Blogger & Critic

1,573 1,418 0.9
@ Joshua

No, I appreciate the differences. Like I implied, it's hard to extract the impact one thing (DRM) has on another (retail client) and a third (community and achievements), and I get that Steam ends-up with a lot of virtual-footfalls due to the Steam DRM. Perhaps a way around this is for other companies to branch out into DRM. Just because Steam is the only digital distro company to do DRM, doesn't mean they have to be the only one? If EA bothered to create a decent DRM, more publishers would use their system, maybe? After-all, if the publishers don't want to see Steam become a monopoly (which I imagine they don't), then they'd be glad of a decent competing DRM. I'll tell you now - Kingdoms of Amalur and ME3 were both cracked on Day-One of US release

One thing I will say is that it's entirely possible to sell a game on Steam with multiple forms of DRM, and to leverage a retail client on there too. It annoys the customer no end, but Warp (as a recent useful example) was sold on Steam, but required an Origin account. Same with Kingdoms of Amalur. So, both games end-up using Steam to leverage Origin in the same way Alan Wake on GMG uses Steam - as a way to force more people to use the client and view the store.

A question to ask here is, does the possibility of more competition overcome the annoyance that the consumer goes through? Past a certain point, you're maybe making it harder for the consumer to give you money next time, simply because they'll remember the hassle they went through initially. *shrugs* (btw, this is meant as an actual question, not a rhetorical one. :) )

Moreover, if Steam does become a negative monopoly to the point that consumers feel offended by it, then there will be a huge customer base looking for an alternative. If a company provides one in that situation then Steam no longer becomes the only player in town.

@ Roberto

Speaking personally, I quite agree.

@ Tim

"in order for some short-term convenience of gamers."

That'll be the customers, not gamers. You know, those people who buy BF3, Portal 2 and TF2 hats. Surely anything that makes it more convenient for "gamers" to buy games is a good thing? Maybe if more people noted why gamers bought games from Steam, rather than assuming it's due to market-share and nothing more, we'd have a better understanding of what makes the customer tick.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 23rd April 2012 7:03pm

Posted:2 years ago

#25

Richard Gardner
Artist

123 32 0.3
People need to stop looking at Steam as this knight in shining armour. The same can be said by looking at Origin as the devils child. They are both providing a service to make one thing, profit. If they can make long term profit based on a decision they will.

I personally don't know the exact details, but I believe specific titles where removed from Steam because each title was selling DLC outside of Steams system and servers. This means they gained no profit from its sale, even though they didn't provide the bandwdith. But I question this because of things such as Games for Windows Live etc...



Also on the subject of Digital Distribution am I the only one who finds it hard to justify a platform taking 30% on each sale?

Posted:2 years ago

#26

James Prendergast
Research Chemist

735 432 0.6
@Roberto:

No, they're not but i guess it depends on your definition of "on" a service. There's a difference between being able to purchase an item in one place and it running via that service. This is what Valve and Gabe appear to be talking about. EA games were "on" Steam in that second sense - you didn't need an EA account to use them or origin running in them because they were launched and managed by Steam itself.

Valve may sell their games via other channels as in any physical store but they ultimately control everything and require that Steam is the application running them. Yet they're basically complaining that EA are not doing this. (You can purchase EA games from sources other than Origin too and if you're taking that view of things then it makes the whole conversation moot)

Posted:2 years ago

#27

Rick Cody
PBnGames-Board Member

144 14 0.1
I can appreciate Newell's point but he's going to have to make public claims that he wants Valve's games on Origin too. Then he's going to have to back it up by actually releasing them for sale via Origin. Of course this would be the first gesture. EA would need to guarantee they'll follow suit.

Posted:2 years ago

#28

Felix Leyendecker
Senior 3D Artist

182 202 1.1
@Richard

"Also on the subject of Digital Distribution am I the only one who finds it hard to justify a platform taking 30% on each sale?"

You can absolutely pull this off if you provide the hardware as well and lock it onto your distribution system - As seen with Apple on iDevices and Amazon on their Kindles. I imagine the PSN or XBL cuts are similar to this. You offer the infrastracture and the user base with the hardware, and get a cut in return.

Since the PC platform has no "owner", there can and will be competing services. Which is why I can't see steam holding up this high cut percentage in the long term, unless they are a factual monopoly.

Posted:2 years ago

#29

Morville O'Driscoll
Blogger & Critic

1,573 1,418 0.9
@ Richard

In reverse order. :)

"Also on the subject of Digital Distribution am I the only one who finds it hard to justify a platform taking 30% on each sale?"

I remember reading something... hang on...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steam_%28software%29#Market_share_and_impact

"...and that Steam offered game producers gross margins of 70% of purchase price, compared with 30% at retail"

So, whilst it might seem like a large chunk, it's far far less than traditional retail takes. When you take into account that Steam has to pay wages, server costs and that the Steamworks DRM is offered free to publishers ( http://www.steampowered.com/steamworks/ ), it's not bad at all.

Re: The DLC issue.

God, this is why I want decent investigative journalism. :)

Okay. Valve changed their ToS to state that if DLC is produced for a game that's on Steam, then Steam must also carry the DLC. This is a way to ensure that every customer has the same extras (or chance to buy the extras) as the next person (also, a way to make money, but that's assumed).

EA agreed to these terms in a contract, but in practice it appears that exclusivity deals with DLC prevented them from following through

( http://www.shacknews.com/article/69194/ea-crysis-2-pulled-from )

Dragon Age 2 was pulled from Steam on the same day as the Legacy DLC was released. The only place to get that DLC is the BioWare store (owned and operated by EA).

Also, totally agree. Both companies are there to make money. It's just Steam genuinely seems to want to improve things for the consumer, whereas EA... Less so.

Posted:2 years ago

#30
SO, EA should respond by doing what Valve is really doing...

Write an installer wrapper that installs Origin and then their game under it, and release that package on Steam.

Posted:2 years ago

#31

Curt Sampson
Sofware Developer

596 360 0.6
With people tossing around the word "monopoly" left and right here, I think it's probably a good idea to read the introduction to the Wikipedia article on monopoly. This tells us that a) Steam is not a monopoly, and b) the issue here really is market power in two markets: individual consumers choosing from which vendor to buy their software, and developers and publishers choosing which vendors may sell their software.

Looking at it from that point of view, it's instructive to compare the situation between Steam and its competitors and the situation in the console industry, which has similar issues.

With PC on-line sales, it's pretty clear that market entry is easier than it is for consoles. (We've had several new entrants in the last few years.) The switching costs for consumers are also much lower: it's a lot cheaper to sign up for another vendor on your PC than it is to buy another console. That in turn offers a wider choice of vendors to developers and publishers.

Where consoles have the advantage here is that, though the switching costs are higher for both consumers and developers/publishers, and the entry costs are higher for developers/publishers, there's in some ways better competition in the console market because we have two dominant players (PSN and Xbox Live) that are more or less equally good. In the PC market, Steam is clearly better than anybody else out there in a wide variety of ways.

But looking at all of the above, it looks to me as if Steam is better simply because its position is less safe than that of the console makers. With lower barriers to entry, Steam has to worry a lot more about keeping ahead of a variety of competitors and potential competitors; Sony need worry only about doing more or less as well as Microsoft. So if there's anything you should be hoping for, it should be the success of Origin just so that Steam is forced to continue to improve.

I currently do the majority of my gaming on PS3, and I'm locked in tightly enough that I've never seriously considered making a large move to Xbox or PC. But I have to say, the current PC situation looks attractive enough to me that I when the next generation of consoles appears (a point at which my switching costs change dramatically), I'm going to seriously consider not only the Xbox successor, but also PCs, despite the various disadvantages of PC gaming to me (higher equipment costs, more pain getting the thing to work nicely with my television/living-room-gaming setup, etc.). That, I think, is a clear indication that the situation isn't all that bad right now.

Posted:2 years ago

#32

Richard Gardner
Artist

123 32 0.3
Also just to add, in the long term I see Steam as a platform for there own games and publishers such as SEGA, THQ and possibly Take Two who simply don't want to invest in there own platform. You can also add in some small free to play and indy titles onto that.

In the future I would expect to see all EA, Ubisoft and Activision games pulled from the service as they form there own platforms simply because they are big enough to do so. Then again a lot of company's might simply not want to invest in there own platform no matter how big they are. As long as the cut percentage stays reasonable and consistent.

But overall competition is a good thing, its fairly obvious Steam is still providing the best service available. But I have no issue buying my EA exclusives from Origin.

Posted:2 years ago

#33

Morville O'Driscoll
Blogger & Critic

1,573 1,418 0.9
@ Curt

Good points. Everyone says "Oh, but in a capitalist society there should be competition", witout realising that in a capitalist society, there will always be competition of some amount, and the drive to innovate and improve strikes the market leader first, because they want to ensure their dominant position is safe.

@ Richard


"In the future I would expect to see all EA, Ubisoft and Activision games pulled from the service as they form there own platforms simply because they are big enough to do so. Then again a lot of company's might simply not want to invest in there own platform no matter how big they are. As long as the cut percentage stays reasonable and consistent."


Two issues are raised here. One, fragmentation of services and exclusivity of IP annoys the customer. You've already seen people asking why they should have to get ME3 on Origin when the first two games are on Steam. Imagine that with every other franchise out there, when the cause is simply because "The publisher wanted their own client". That would damage customer good-will and sales a lot. Two, financially, I seriously doubt it's worth it. When Crysis 2 and DA2 were first removed from Steam, I questioned whether the financial benefits from EA getting a large slice of DLC sales outweighed the loss of Steam sales. For EA, the number of people buying into ME3 and BF3 has possibly made it financially viable now, but there aren't many franchises or IPs out there which would turn the negative of lost Steam sales into a positive for the publisher's own client.

Also, does anyone know the percentage cut that EA takes for third-party games on Origin? I get the feeling it's more than the 30% that Steam takes.

Edit:

Also, interesting to note that the main reason Kingdoms of Amalur was placed on Steam was because the developers specifically wanted it on there, and as it's a EA Partners title, EA cannot stand in the way. So, even if publishers wanted to remove everything from Steam, developers (or at least some developers) would stop them.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 24th April 2012 9:40am

Posted:2 years ago

#34

Rick Underhill
Level Artist

5 1 0.2
Everyone talks about Steam being DRM, but when it started it was just a way to get Valve games to consumers without all the hassle of patches and version control.
It grew because they listened to feedback, added cool features, and eventually turned it into something we all love. They happened to help indie developers out, made some money, other devs and publishers flocked to it because Valve did something awesome, and because of their relentless dedication to their customers they had a platform that served gamers in the best possible way.

I can't find any reasonable argument that Steam is anything other than a product of devotion and great business sense, something Valve have shown again and again. I highly doubt they started out with the goal to dominate the market and supress any competition. they simply catered to their customers and now have a fiercely loyal userbase who have everything they need at their fingertips, so why should they be excited about using other services?

Posted:2 years ago

#35

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