An Outgunned EA Fires Warning Shot at Valve

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Electronic ArtsThere's been a bit of a dust-up ever since Crysis 2 disappeared from Valve's "Steam" distribution platform. That vanishing act was contemporaneous with the launch of Electronic Arts' "Origin" distribution service. The scuttlebutt was that EA pulled the game to better compete with Steam. EA's DeMartini, Senior Vice President of Global E-Commerce, has issued a statement intended to deny competition with Steam, but ends up making things sound far worse. Read on for more details...
The real battle over online distribution is for control of the customer. EA will make more money if it can capture the customer than if it allows Valve to control the customer relationship. DeMartini says, "...any retailer can sell our games, but we take direct responsibility for providing patches, updates, additional content and other services to our players. You are connecting to our servers, and we want to establish on ongoing relationship with you, to continue to give you the best possible gaming experience."

In other words, EA is happy to sell the game through Steam, but if Valve is busy building a community and payment system around its distribution platform, EA doesn't want to be any part of that, and won't allow its games on the Steam platform. As a result, you can expect that EA Games (other than self-contained casual titles) probably won't be appearing on Steam from now on. EA clearly believes that it has more leverage, and can force Valve to back down on the strength of its catalog.

FI thinks EA is dead wrong. Valve doesn't need EA's titles as much as EA needs Valve's distribution, and Valve seems unlikely to back down from what Valve should be doing to improve its business. DeMartini wrote, "Unfortunately, if we're not allowed to manage this experience directly and establish a relationship with you, it disrupts our ability to provide the support you expect and deserve." If EA holds that line, EA better hope they can convince customers to adopt multiple parallel platforms, because other publishers aren't moving their games from Steam to Origin. Steam isn't just a store &ndash it wants to be a platform.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on July 7, 2011 7:26 AM.

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