It’s War: EA’s “Own Platform Exclusives”

By Alec Meer on June 15th, 2011 at 5:43 pm.

Dance! Dance the propreitary download platform dance of death!

While the waters around Crysis 2′s sudden disappearance from Steam last night remain somewhat muddy, EA Games prez Frank Gibeau has spilled a few heavily suggestive beans about the big brass balls the publisher has about its proprietary download service, Origin, and how it intends to keep any other download service’s grubby mitts off a few of its choicest games.

Steam and Crysis 2 wasn’t specifically addressed, but Gibeau told GamesIndustry.biz today that “you talk about platform exclusives like Halo or Uncharted… EA’s going to have some of our own platform exclusives.

The game primarily referred to with regard to this was the upcoming The Old Republic, the Star Wars MMO that EA appears to be betting biiiiig on and will launch scloosively on Origin. “In the case of Star Wars we’re trying to build an audience for Origin. And it’s also an opportunity for us to better manage the downloads and how we bring people over from the beta and that sort of thing.”

Does this lock out all the other digital stores? “I think long-term you’ll see we believe in reach so we will have other digital retailers for our products because we want to reach as many audiences as possible. But at the same time if we can use exclusive content or other ideas to help grow our audience then we’re going to do that because we’re growing a platform.”

Even longer-term, however, EA wants to become king of the internet: “For us it’s really about, we’re the worldwide leader in packaged goods publishing, we’d like to be the worldwide leader in digital publishing. And we think that EA has unique strengths there related to what we can do with our content, because we’re a content creator as well as a retailer in this business. But in general it’s not just a retail site, it’s a community, it’s a platform, it has traits much like you see with Steam or PSN or Xbox Live, but it’s unique to EA.”

HMM. This demonstrates incredible confidence in EA’s own brands, but the key back foot they’re on is that they don’t have any other publishers they can bring on board. What would change everything in the war against Steam is if the other major publishers launched their own Origin-like services and restricted their download sales to those. I won’t be at all surprised if that happens, as a few are quietly building the infrastructure – THQ have a store, Ubisoft have that uPlay thing, Blizzard obviously sell their own digital stuff direct… You could even see Call of Duty: Elite as heading vaguely in that direction.

While I’m quite sure most publishers are pretty happy about Steam sales figures, they’re surely not overjoyed about giving a large piece of the revenue pie to Valve. Or, indeed, to retailers. EA staging this little rebellion alone looks kinda crazy – but what happens if all the big boys do similar?

This, perhaps:

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164 Comments »

  1. Shakermaker says:

    “what happens if all the big boys do similar?”

    This: http://i.imgur.com/rYstS.png

    • The Hammer says:

      Yep. :/

    • Raziel_aXd says:

      My desktop is already empty because I don’t keep icons on it.

    • Tei says:

      You sould have photoshoped the date. And put 2014 or something similar.

    • Shakermaker says:

      @Tei

      The image is not my own. I lazily copied the link from reddit.

    • hap says:

      Like I mentioned in the Crisis 2 thread, we’ll need a new program that merges all the above downloaders/launchers into one app – like instant messaging programs do.

      If that happens I won’t really care where I buy a game. I’ve paid slightly more for games here and there on Steam over D2D because I don’t want another app or list of games where I have to remember which game is where. If convenience is not a factor then price will generally win me over – provided I trust that the service will not go belly up in a year.

    • FKD says:

      Raziel: I believe it was referring to all the links on the bottom bar.. you would have Steam, the THQ store, Impulse, EA’s thing, etc.

      (Unless you already got that and in that case forget I said anything! :D)

    • Tasloi says:

      Looks like dark times ahead for PC gaming. Back to the old fragmented community, reduced competition due to vendor lock-in and yet to come: built-in GFWL for Win 8. Oh joy.

    • by.a.teammate says:

      so sad, so true

  2. Boozebeard says:

    As I posted in the Crysis 2 article I like having all my games in one place. If everyone starts doing this I’m going to be pretty pissed off.

    • Juan Carlo says:

      Eh.

      I just see this becoming, at best, another “Battlenet”—but even then that hinges entirely on the success of TOR.

      EA likes to brag about the fact that they are one of the largest physical distributors of games, but I actually think that this sets them at a disadvantage compared to Valve. Valve really isn’t a distributor in the same way that EA is (in fact, EA distributes many of the physical copies of Valve’s games)–which, I think, is why so many different companies are willing to work with Valve. Why would Ubisoft or Activision, for example, ever agree to sell games through origin? I understand why they would through Valve or D2D, but there’s not a chance in hell anyone other than EA will ever sell their games through origin.

      That said I think this should be a wake up call to Valve. They really need to take aggressive steps to make Steam the best UI out there. And they can start by fixing its wonky patching system, for one. The whole 9 gig Witcher 2 patch fiasco hasn’t made them look to good.

    • daf says:

      @Juan Carlo

      The latest steam beta already has the ground work for a new update system. From steam beta changelog.

  3. Highstorm says:

    Battlefield 3 better be on Steam.

    • jon_hill987 says:

      Don’t hold your breath.

    • Njordsk says:

      I do !

      *puf puf*

    • Fierce says:

      Might I direct your attention to “Exhibit A”?

      This was a terrible hint that you should Ctrl-F “Exhibit A” for my post on Page 2 by the way.

    • porschecm2 says:

      I hope to goodness Battlefield 3 (and anything else you care to name) doesn’t *require* any digital distribution platform. I don’t really care if EA wants to release games on Steam, Origin, GOG, Addictinggames, or even Facebook, as long as I’m not required to go get an account there and open the stupid thing every time I want to play a game. That’s the worst part about GFWL: you can’t just buy a retail box, and then go play happily ever after. No, you still have to go through all the digital distribution nonsense for everything except the actual download (and sometimes it might as well be that too, what with all the patching).
      And I fully realize that many games use Steam that way too, and it bugs me there also. But it bugs me less, because Steam actually (mostly) works.

  4. Kandon Arc says:

    I think I’d be happier about this if the Origin store didn’t have such crazy (UK) prices: £34.99 for Crysis 2? £39.99 for Sims Medieval? What planet are they living on?

    • DanPryce says:

      Exactly – people will go where the games are cheapest, which is usually Steam (or the PirateBay Entertainment System). Unless Origin doesn’t have those kind of crazy cheap deals, Steam is still going to dominate.

    • clippa says:

      “people will go where the games are cheapest, which is usually Steam”

      It’s never steam, Shirley. Maybe during their sales.

    • Jeremy says:

      Definitely during their sales, of which they seem to have 50 a week.

    • Kaira- says:

      Even during sales, I can often buy games from Amazon for the same price. Not always though, when Steam goes crraaaaaazzzhyyyy with the prices. And gamer’s gate usually has quite competive prices when compared to Steam.

    • phanatic62 says:

      @clippa

      Are you saying their regular prices are higher than elsewhere? Because I haven’t bought a regularly priced game in years thanks to sites like http://pcdddeals.com/ (not my site). I agree that Steam doesn’t always have the absolute lowest price if you’re willing to buy on 4 or 5 different sites, but I’m OK paying an extra dollar or (maybe) two so that I don’t have to buy on Direct2Drive, Gamersgate or Green Man Gaming and many others. Nothing against those sites, I’m sure they’re great, I’m just too lazy to buy on a ton of sites.

    • Recidivist says:

      I don’t understand why they think they can get away with charging voer £30 for a PC game. It has never been that price and I will never buy a PC game for more than £30 ( <- Just for the game. If it's a special edition with -worthwhile- extra stuff, then maybe, as it's added value).

    • Carra says:

      Steam is really expensive in mainland Europe (Belgium). It’s always a few euros cheaper in retail shops. And it’s always a *lot* cheaper if I buy from UK stores like play.com (easily €15 cheaper on a €50 game).

      But then they have their sales. I bought 90% of all my games during these sales and the rest by entering my retail keys.

    • Jimbo says:

      I save about £5-£8 per (new) game by ordering retail copies online instead of buying from Steam. It adds up.

  5. phosgene says:

    This is some of the most distressing news I’ve heard in reference to PC gaming in quite a while. Why must companies like Actiblizzard and EA do everything they can to ruin everything I hold dear.

    Digital distribution was the last remaining light for PC gaming. If I had a friend who was interested in getting involved, I could tell them to download Steam and suggest a couple of games for them to try out. Now, I’m going to have to make a flowchart listing all of my games and which DD software I have to load up to access them.

  6. simoroth says:

    I don’t care if EA want their own store with a downloader.

    What I don’t want is another half assed, buggy social networking program for EA to datamine and for hackers to steal my info from.

    I see the origin of another GFWL on the horizon.

    • therighttoarmbears says:

      Hear Hear!

    • PaulMorel says:

      Right. In all likelihood, the outcome of this is, two years from now EA will come crawling back to Steam with their hat in their hands. Just like Microsoft and Fable 3. … “Oh hey PC-Gamers, it turns out that we would rather take your money than just sit in our own private castle-store”

    • Splynter says:

      Right. Considering recent events, the last thing I want to do now is give personal information out to yet another corporation to store under dodgy security…

  7. Garg says:

    Isn’t this exactly what Valve did (any maybe still do) with Half Life 2 and Steam?

    • kalidanthepalidan says:

      Yep. And Stardock. It’s bound to happen since publishers see how much cash Steam pulls in. If they pull in other publishers and have sales I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. Competition is a good thing. People will still “WTF” though over this. Silly people.

    • simoroth says:

      The real WTF is the fact they did it with a game that didn’t do particularly well and is already fading from memory.

      Valve and Stardock did it with brilliant new releases and brought new features and ideas to the table. EA brings nothing but a bunch of smug business men who have no idea what a video game is, yet alone how to run a games company or service.

    • itchyeyes says:

      Yes and no. Their titles are exclusive to their service, but they also sell titles from other publishers as well. Now EA might be open to selling titles from other publishers, but how many publishers do you think are actually interested in selling their titles through EA? Certainly none of the big ones that directly compete with them, and certainly none of the smaller ones that already don’t care for the amount of influence EA has and already have better options with larger install bases.

    • zeroskill says:

      {}

    • Zelius says:

      But Valve did this when digital distribution was still fairly new. They essentially created a new platform. EA is actually taking away a game (maybe more in the future?) from an established service, and locking out users of this service for future games. That isn’t the way to compete. Creating a better service/platform is, but I don’t expect them to do that.

    • Vandelay says:

      Not only is it what Steam did with Half Life 2*, but I don’t believe any Valve game has been available through any digital channel besides Steam, which is pretty much what EA seem to be planning to do with Origin.

      I didn’t get annoyed at Valve for doing it, so I won’t get annoyed with EA. I will get annoyed if their service is shit, but I can’t decide on that until I’ve used it.

      *which, if anything, was worse, as the game was completely tied to Steam rather than just downloaded through it. Steam was also nowhere near the quality it is today.

  8. The Sombrero Kid says:

    they’re not interested in presenting a competitive alternative, they just want to bully consumers.

    • d32 says:

      … which makes it even easier to ignore them (if shitty greedy games alone are not good enough reason).

  9. Nighthood says:

    I’m in two minds about the whole thing. I do like steam, but I accept that it has a bit of a rule over the market. The problem is that if every publisher were to make their own download manager and leave steam, everything would get majorly watered down, split apart, and disintegrate, leaving us in the same state as we were in 5 or so years ago.

    Steam’s appeal is that it’s not only a download service, it’s a gaming hub of sorts. If we take away the hub in favour of many different ones it’s going to make for huge divisions.

    That’s not even getting into the whole piracy thing. As Gabe has said before, if you want to stop piracy, give a better option to piracy. Splitting the market hugely isn’t going to do that, it’s going to make piracy even more attractive than it was before. This is a bad idea all round.

    • Outsider says:

      All good points.

    • futage says:

      To my mind the reason steam has ‘a bit of a rule over the market’ is that they do it well. Not perfectly, of course, but pretty well. They understand their market and they respect (or do a convincing emulation) their customers/clients/audience. The latter being the most important point. Steam never makes me feel punished or assumed to be guilty. Valve, as you say, understand that in order to beat piracy you have to offer a better service – and it’s important to recognise that piracy is a service – it’s a valid market expression.

      The appeal for me isn’t the ‘gaming hub’ side at all, I could quite easily do without that. It’s having a platform where it’s very easy (and often very cheap, which comes into it too) to get games i want and I feel respected, or at least not intentionally alienated, while doing so.

      Other publishers still just don’t seem to get it.

    • Nighthood says:

      @Futage

      I’d agree with you on those points. I can understand that some people might not be too enamoured by the social side of Steam, it’s not for everyone and it’s really an optional extra, just one that adds something more to the Steam “experience”.

      In terms of respect, that’s something Steam definitely has going for it. It doesn’t seem like something run by a faceless megacorp, it seems to be run by real people who also enjoy games. The worry with EA’s service is that it’ll ignore the “people” aspect of buying games and concentrate mostly on the profits side. That’ll just lead to an unpleasant experience for all who use it.

    • Outsider says:

      Valve, as you say, understand that in order to beat piracy you have to offer a better service – and it’s important to recognise that piracy is a service – it’s a valid market expression.

      Not to drag this conversation aside, but I have to strongly disgree that piracy is a valid market expression.

    • TheApologist says:

      Agreed – this is a recipe for irritation

    • Nighthood says:

      @Outsider

      Some people make the decision to pirate if they disagree with something about the purchase of games. I’ll freely admit that I pirate DLC as I don’t believe we should have to pay for more of a game we already have, some people pirate because they don’t like Steam, and so on. It’s definitely market expression, regardless of whether you agree with it or not.Somewhat topically, lots of people are saying they’re going to pirate origin only EA titles as well, and if that’s not market expression I don’t know what is.

      I’ll not wholly equate it with civil disobedience, but the idea is similar. With civil disobedience, if you disagree with something you will use illegal means to show your opinion, that doesn’t make your opinion/expression invalid. The legality of it all is a funny one, but we shouldn’t disregard piracy completely because it’s illegal.

    • Outsider says:

      I don’t want to revive the piracy/anti piracy melee royale again so I’ll just leave it with: I disagree that theft is a valid market expression.

    • Spider Jerusalem says:

      I’m not even sure it’s up for discussion; it’s an objective fact that piracy is a valid market expression. You can dislike piracy (which is another issue), but saying that isn’t a valid market expression is an indefensible position.

    • futage says:

      @Outsider

      By ‘valid’ I wasn’t commenting as to ethics, just being pragmatic: It exists and it is used. Whether it’s ethical or not it is a competitor.

      (having said that I don’t generally have ethical problems with piracy, I’d argue very strongly that, even in ethical terms, it’s valid and what it’s expressing is that there are fundamental problems with our current models for thinking about and selling cultural objects, especially ones which are reproducible at little/no cost. But yeah, we’ve both been here a million times and have no desire to have that argument again I’m sure)

    • Outsider says:

      I’m not even sure it’s up for discussion; it’s an objective fact that piracy is a valid market expression.

      Excellent, now the only thing you need to do is provide proof. Should be no problem since it is an objective fact.

      Listen, I don’t see the same people who steal videogames online trying to do the same with a pair of jeans or tank of gas. Not because they wouldn’t love to engage in a little “valid market expression” by simply taking it without paying, but because they are concered about getting caught and penalized and it is ultimately more difficult to perpetrate in person because you’re not some hard to track anonymous number.

      That seems to indicate that this is not about making “market expressions” (which normal people do by not buying at all or buying a different brand rather than just outright stealing products willy nilly), it’s about opportunism and the result of a complete lack of accountability. Those are not “market expressions.”

      This time, I’m super cereal, I’m going to leave this line of commenting to others. :)

    • daf says:

      Listen, I don’t see the same people who steal videogames online trying to do the same with a pair of jeans or tank of gas. Not because they wouldn’t love to engage in a little “valid market expression” by simply taking it without paying, but because they are concered about getting caught and penalized and it is ultimately more difficult to perpetrate in person because you’re not some hard to track anonymous number.

      First of all you’re equating things that are physical with an inherent cost (the materials their made of) with something that can be duplicated out of “thin air” for free, which imo is a fallacy, but lets ignore that.

      Let’s suppose if a large amount of people start stealing gas or jeans, wouldn’t you consider that a market expression of something being wrong? The potential punishment will only serve as a deterrence to a point, if people disagree enough with a law they will break it, America in the 1920 forbid drinking alcohol, people broke that law all the time a market expression people wanted their alcohol, current day. Marijuana is illegal in most country yet most people have used/use it, a market expression that maybe it should be illegal? And piracy is a more complex beast to analise as it might just mean people find it expensive (DNF in shop €51, from uk w/ shipping€ 31), too restricted (this blueray only plays on DVD resolution on my non HDCP home theater), etc

      You can try to dismiss every pirate as just someone who wants something for free, but even that wouldn’t make sense since when your product is free to duplicate there’s money to be made out of just giving it for free too, just look at what gamergate is doing with ad supported games. And even steam success has showed that most people are willing to pay for games if they’re convenient and priced appropriately like on steam sales.

      And ye, let’s not bring back that piracy/anti-piracy debate back *looks at giant wall of text I just wrote and facepalms*

    • Antinomy says:

      Just to agree with what most people are saying, getting into an argument about whether or not piracy is a valid market expression, or what “valid” means, doesn’t change the objective reality that the legality is in a gray area, and even if it weren’t, it’s been solidified as a real alternative due to technology, ease of execution, and the amount of support it gets.

      A not-insignificant slice of the gaming community acknowledge that piracy is an option they will consider depending on the circumstances, and it isn’t socially unacceptable to download a crack. In some case players have good justifications for doing so, like trying out the game to pay for it later, or the fact that it is difficult to obtain legally, or that the legal version of the game is a hassle to deal with (buggy DRM, etc.). That just goes to show that people aren’t getting the experience they want, or the options they want, or the quality they feel they deserve.

      Piracy got its foot in the door, and it’s no longer JUST for people who are too cheap and dastardly to pay for a game. It is an expression of the market when the consumers are unsatisfied with what they are getting for the amount of money and effort they are made to spend. When piracy is something that is socially tolerated and even sometimes touted as a better option, well, that’s not a good place for the market to be, but in a way that’s where we are right now.

  10. Kaira- says:

    It’ll definetly be interesting to see how things will play out now.

  11. Werd says:

    This is a dumb move for EA. I don’t buy anything unless it is available on Steam. So I guess I won’t be buying EA stuff.

  12. Alaric says:

    It will fail. But now I am not so sure I want Alice and Battlefield anymore.
    Never wanted the stupid Old Republic in the first place.

  13. Tenorek says:

    The fact that they are removing games from other services tells me outright that they cannot compete. If they are so sure their service is better, sell them on other services and let the consumers decide. Of course, I really don’t mind having a very good excuse to hold onto my money. What might be a temptation on Steam, now stands as a clear decision against on “Origin.”

    • Kaira- says:

      Well, Crysis 2 is still available on Gamer’s Gate, probably on some other places too.

    • therighttoarmbears says:

      I don’t think it’s a commentary on how strong they think their product is. It’s gotta be bottom line. If they can sell it directly to you without printing discs, boxes, paying a retailer etc and the don’t have to pay any direct download middlemen a cut then that’s gotta be better for their bottom line, right? Right? There surely aren’t any other factors they haven’t considered, right?

    • Urthman says:

      Yeah, if EA wasn’t afraid of competition they’d sell their games on Steam just like Valve sells Portal and TF2 and Left 4 Dead on GameTap and Direct2Drive.

      Wait, who’s afraid of competition?

  14. Coins says:

    If this works, I’ll be very sad. Steam is relatively mild and well-designed, and I doubt EA can pull it off. Also, Steam is great because your games aren’t scattered in various obscure download services. Why would any costumer take a step back?

  15. Ondrej says:

    They need to pack big guns if they want this to succeed. I’m staying with Steam for now. Crysis 2 alone won’t do the trick. Or any EA games, for that matter.

  16. Tyshalle says:

    Yeah. In my opinion, the best way to handle this is to not bother with exclusive game shit. If a thousand different companies all want to have their own versions of Steam out there, that’s fine. But everyone should let everyone else sell their games. That way it doesn’t hurt the customers, doesn’t force us to have half a dozen or more different game downloading programs on our computers, and the competition can be on which platform is the best.

    I could be swayed to leave Steam if another site did everything Steam does, plus more. I’m not going to be swayed to leave Steam if EA refuses to sell BF3 or SWTOR anywhere but Origin. That’s just going to lose them sales. They should really be focusing on “building their platform” by creating a kickass platform. The last thing I want, especially given the last couple of months, is my credit card information stored on a whole bunch of gaming sites.

  17. Jahandar says:

    This balkanization of digital sales by publishers is going to be a huge annoyance. I don’t mind a little competition for steam, but making their digital content exclusive to their store is just going to drive me to Amazon.com, not to them.

    Also, they are forgetting that Valve had already built up a large amount of goodwill with their customers even before they started steam, which encourages loyalty. EA has never had this; most of their customers deal with them begrudgingly.

  18. therighttoarmbears says:

    So: do we all (us lowly consumers, that is) lose or win?

  19. Streambeta says:

    They seriously can’t do this. If all the big game publishers back away from Steam and make their own DD service then I will go back to buying games retail (which I haven’t done since 2002), then add them to Steam. People don’t want 10 different DD services, accounts, passwords and crap, we WANT all of our games in 1 spot…which is why we all love Steam.

    I will buy retail before I use Origin…I don’t want 10 different Steams. I know a lot of other people feel the same as I do.

    • Kaira- says:

      Just a random thought, can you actually buy Valve-games from any other DD-service than Steam?

      Edit: Oh reply fail, how doth I love you.

    • wengart says:

      The only EA game I’m currently looking forward to is Battlefield 3 and If I can’t get it off Steam I’m going to Amazon or other physical goods seller. Same for Mass Effect 3, although for that I will wait 6 months to a year and get it on sale.

  20. itchyeyes says:

    This is just… dumb. Not just from a consumer perspective either, but from a business perspective too. Think about it, if you’re an investor, what kind of chances do you give EA of actually succeeding with this sort of initiative? They have very little experience in online retail as it is, and what little experience they do have shows that they’re a very long ways from even being remotely competitive with other services out there.

    Sure they’ll eke out a little extra percentage in profits on any titles they sell through their store. But they’ll also alienate a huge portion of their customers on a platform where large publishers struggle with piracy issues and massive amounts of competition from independent developers.

    I think there’s got to be some serious group think going on over at EA. Some executive came up with this idea, and all of his underlings who know better were to afraid of their job security to tell him just how terrible of an idea it is. Stupid EA. Really, really stupid.

  21. Leyths says:

    I buy from Steam because it’s reliable, has sensible pricing (£30/40 on release, £20 a few months down the line and a tenner in the sales), and because I love having a unified games library. I’m not going to buy from some expensive and half baked store, I’d buy from Amazon before then, at least I’d get a box and a discount that way.

  22. iniudan says:

    I don’t mind EA wanting their own digital distribution the trouble is that they are doing thing wrong with their own title.

    Those doing it right are CDproject when it came to Witcher 2, try to offer the best deal in your own retail service (GOG) but still make your game available on other retailer, if you try to force people into a single retail service you lose customer who never check it.

    Better lose profit on some sale then completely lose a sale.

    Just have other retailer download a version that install the Origin version of the game or offer a origin CD key in worse case, if you want absolutely thing to go on your platform. A bit like how steam title are handled on Gamersgate.

    • Jubacat says:

      Excellent point!!

      Offering your product with incentives (ie. DRM free, Region Free, Cheaper) while keeping it available on other services is a way to pull consumers to your new service. Of course those incentives shouldn’t be the “Get your special DLC bonus” business model that EA seems to be fond of.

      Unfortunately EA probably won’t be very consumer friendly in this regard.

    • Spider Jerusalem says:

      Indeed. Don’t be proprietary, just be smart.

  23. konondrum says:

    This will just end up blowing up in EA’s face. The reason is simple: software. Origin is big steaming pile of crap, and Steam isn’t. It’s that simple. You’re not going to get people to migrate to your platform when you offer less features, fewer games and an interface from 2002. Valve get it, clearly EA does not.

  24. Yargh says:

    UPlay and their moronic rules about user names being fixed in stone was one of the things that put me off the otherwise very enjoyable Assassin’s Creed : Brotherhood.

    (the other was the also moronic port forwarding requirements that prevent my girfriend and I from playing together)

  25. Walsh says:

    If I can make the software act like a new version of the silly EA Downloader, I’m ok with it.

    If I have to run the software to play the game, they can get fucked by a horse.

    If I have to pay $3.99 to retain rights to download my game after 3 months, they can get fucked by a grizzly bear.

    • Kaira- says:

      From the Crysis 2 thread it seems that you don’t need to run Origin to play games. Which is nice.

  26. Novotny says:

    Superb, getting that Day Today clip in.

    I’m only posting to let you all know I’m having a heavily suggestive bean casserole tonight.

    • Dubbill says:

      This is possibly my favourite Day Today segment. The stretched twig of peace, indeed.

      (I’m having something with goat’s cheese)

    • tossrStu says:

      I don’t think I’ve seen that since it was first broadcast. Amazing. I really should revisit TDT sometime.

    • Novotny says:

      let’s not forget ‘bombdogs’

  27. StingingVelvet says:

    Valve, Impulse and Blizzard did the same EXACT thing, and yet EA is evil and ballsy for even considering it with some of their titles.

    Keep rolling on that “we hate EA” train PC gamers, it makes you look so rational.

    • Streambeta says:

      The thing is dude we don’t want 10 different DD services, we like to have a unified games library (that’s all). I mean having 2 already is kinda annoying, EA and Microsoft are late in the game.

      It would be exactly the same if you were forced to use 10 different search engines to look up exclusive information. It would just be super annoying and stupid.

      Make your own DD service that is fine, but don’t try to make your games exclusive to it…you will only force gamers to pirating and going to Amazon more.

    • Ultra-Humanite says:

      Keep making ignorant generalizations, it makes you look so rational.

    • phosgene says:

      The search engine analogy is really good when attempting to explain the general inconvenience that most of us would like to avoid.. Imagine if Microsoft pulled everything off of their website from Google and forced you to use Bing if you were, for instance, having trouble with Windows or any of their other products.

    • somini says:

      When Valve launched Steam there was nothing like it, it was something new.
      When Impulse launched Steam wasn’t as ubiquitous as it is today.

      This is totally different, they are trying to enter a market that it’s already saturated, and worse, making it exclusive. I would even tolerate that they give bonus things if it was bought in their store, but making it the only way? What do they think PC is? A console?

    • Gormongous says:

      StingingVelvet, it’s not that EA is making this grab. It’s that EA is so cluelessly late to the party, and with such a weak opening move, that it just looks ridiculous. Someone high up in the company clearly thought he had a great idea, and he’s going to use all the corporate muscle EA can bring to bear making it pay out.

    • Catalept says:

      Indeed. I was furious when Blizzard games vanished from Steam… it’s pure hypocrisy to let them get away that while directing anger at EA for doing the same thing.

      Meanwhile, in reality, Blizzard adding DD service for their games where none previously existed was damn handy. EA’s decision to switch from an established one so some newer, crappier version they made themselves is worthy of contempt.

  28. Fitzmogwai says:

    Oh dear.

    I have two digital download services that I use: Steam and GOG. And that’s not going to change any time soon.

    Perhaps when BF3 comes out my GAME reward card will get to see daylight for the first time in years.

    What a shame. A bunch of pretentious old men playing at running the world.

    • Kittim says:

      I’m the same, I hate having to keep track of all the user names and passwords for the forums I’ve joined. I don’t want something else to keep track of.

      Regardless of distribution system, why do new titles often cost the same as physical versions? I’m saving the publisher money (and the environment I hope) by doing away with the need for a disk, case and manual. Surly it wouldn’t hurt them to discount new titles a little?

      Then there is the issue of DRM, is Steam not, in itself DRM enough? I still avoid titles that have additional DRM attached to them in addition to what Steam already imposes. I fail to see the point, especially when the DRM is still there when the title is nearing it’s end of life. I’m pretty sure publishers would actually see an increase in sales of old titles if they released a Steam version that’s DRM free.

  29. Wanoah says:

    All this will do for me is make it that much easier to not buy any EA products.

  30. Theodoric says:

    It’s like they’re taking turns in pissing on the costumer, instead of seducing him/her. Fuck that.

  31. Octaeder says:

    Fine if it’s just a Gamersgate style download service, but I’m not downloading any more clients to pointlessly run in the background. Of course SWTOR and Battlefield will probably end up with lots of patches so I’d just like them on Steam really.

  32. zeroskill says:

    “but what happens if all the big boys do similar?” If everybody starts doing their own little Steams, after Valve has been doing this for nearly 10 years, ill be just going back to just play Valve games, (and Indie ones, that will stay on Steam no mather what) like before :P End of story. EA and Actvision and what not terribad companies can keep their shitty games, ill be playing 1.6

  33. keith.lamothe says:

    I can see why they think they can benefit from reducing distribution costs (Valve’s take is basically that; running Origin in-house has its own costs but presumably less than Valve’s take) and increasing their own direct audience.

    I also think competition is healthy for the digital-distribution market. Valve’s been a pretty benevolent near-overlord thus far and (speaking both as a customer and someone working for a group that distributes games through Steam) I’ve found them wonderful people to work with. But it’s always good to have lots of motivation for everyone to stay honest.

    And I think that Origin _could_ do well if EA was seriously dedicated to making the actual Origin client/downloader/website/etc really good. Lots of resources, lots of smart people, and lots of their time, and so on.

    But in past experience it’s felt like some kind of unspoken law-of-the-universe that almost all single-company-setting-up-their-own-digitial-distribution-silo simply don’t even try to do that. The result might be a tolerable interface, or it might be something significantly less than tolerable, but it never seems to be very good.

    So my guess is that EA has figured out some way to make good money off this move without actually having to successfully challenge Steam.

    • somini says:

      I think that is contradictory. How can you beat a system that has been perfected for 7 years? Well, one way is to dump a crapload of money into it, but that would negate the money they are saving from Valve’s cut. Since EA is a publicly traded company, I guess they are more interested in making a good financial quarter, so there is a lot of pressure to spend the less money possible in this.

    • keith.lamothe says:

      “How can you beat a system that has been perfected for 7 years? Well, one way is to dump a crapload of money into it, but that would negate the money they are saving from Valve’s cut.”

      That’s a valid possibility to consider when making the choice to roll-your-own or just stick 3rd party distribution, but it is definitely not a foregone conclusion that “the amount of money required to succeed in challenging Steam” is greater than “the amount of additional money we would make if Valve wasn’t taking its cut”. Answering that question would require some complex projections that, presumably, EA has done. Whether it came out favorable and they’re actually trying to do that or it came out unfavorably and EA expects to make a profit on other effects of the move… I can’t say. I suspect the latter.

  34. phanatic62 says:

    If this is the way the industry is going (and it is), then so be it, but all it will do is reduce sales for everyone involved. Valve stands to lose the most in this scenario, so I think they need to take the lead and allow their games to be sold on the various platforms, thus disarming the argument “But Valve does it too!!1one”

    Perhaps the game companies could hold exclusive rights for 6 months on their digital platform service, and then allow their games to be sold on other platforms? That way you get all of the preorders and initial sales, but you can still get other digital platform’s customers at some point in the future.

    • Streambeta says:

      I think if companys hold it on their DD service for 6 months then let it out on other services then I believe most gamers will just wait until it goes on Steam. It is what I will do….fine with me, wait 6 months and your games will be cheaper to. Which is actually what I do with most games today, just wait until it’s cheap.

    • phanatic62 says:

      Yeah I never buy anything full price, and just about never preorder anything, but there are a lot of people who must absolutely have a game as soon as it is released. Talking completely out of my ass I would assume that is where most companies recoup the majority of their investment (i.e. when the game is selling at $40/$50/$60). So the 6 month thing wouldn’t impact me either, but while I probably won’t even bother checking the EA site at all, I might buy one of their games during a massive Steam sale, even if it’s a year or two after the original release.

    • Jimbo says:

      I don’t think that would happen at all. If ‘most gamers’ were prepared to wait 6 months for anything then the ability to get games for half the price would already be incentive enough. Yet the way game sales still typically nosedive after lauch in spite of this market reality suggests that most gamers simply are not prepared to wait.

      If Publisher X had a timed exclusive on digital sales, then people would go there to buy the game. However, Steam and the other DD sites would probably insist on having it Day One or not at all (for them to accept otherwise would be business suicide in the long run), and then the publisher would have to decide whether they thought the permanent exclusivity would earn them more money than they would lose from the outside sales. Conventional wisdom says they wouldn’t earn more, which is why you don’t really see this model happen, but this move from EA suggests that maybe they now think differently for whatever reason. Either they think Steam are bluffing and that they can be forced to accept a timed exclusive model down the line, or EA think they can shift the numbers in their favour by forcing the market to change (ie. force the market to become used to going direct, which pays off for them in the long term).

  35. TheApologist says:

    Given PSN’s little hacker incident, why would I want a situation in which I trust multiple games publishers of unknowable competence with my credit card details?

    The fewer places I buy from, the less likely I am to hit trouble. Steam has done well by me so far, and it would take a lot for me to take the bother and risk of going else where.

  36. Fierce says:

    Overreaction, overreaction, everywhere!

    People need to relax. All of the “big game publishers” are not going to back off of Steam and do the same thing because they simply DO NOT have the market share, the technical expertise, the resources (read: non-earmarked cash liquidity) or the ROI projections to justify it. Digital Distribution isn’t like Rapidshare and its plethora of mutant imitators. Steam leads for a reason and if it could be competed against easily, Impulse and GFWL would’ve done it a long time ago.

    Also, lots of people seem to be behaving as if Steam can’t literally just say “Hey guys, a little miffed at the percentage we’re taking off the top? Okay, how about… this number?” Apple did it with their App Store premiums (though in the opposite direction apparently) and this simple act can keep a multitude of shifty publishers to reaffirm their buttocks in their Steam-powered recliners.

    I think the earliest The Truth will be told is with Alice Madness Returns. June 17th isn’t huge gobs of time away, and I’ll personally be continuing to watch and see if it appears on Steam as I was doing so before this month even started. It should serve for now as an acid test of if/when/how quickly an Origin-only title will come back to Earth and open up shop on Steam. Due to EA’s own quotes above, its fairly safe to wipe your brow over BF3 as it appears to be on track for availability through Steam as -and I direct your attention to Exhibit A- all of the Battlefield content on Steam is still there despite the removal of Crysis 2. For all the hope being placed on EA’s Next Big Thing, not having it on Steam would be disastrous, even for a company as proud, arrogant and sometimes completely batty as EA.

    Gods… I hope they know that…

  37. povu says:

    Put System Shock 2 on there and then we’ll talk.

  38. Mutak says:

    Hey, EA…if i asked you to describe, in one simple sentence, what you do, i’m guessing it would sound something like, “We make games.”

    So stop fucking around with the other shit and just make good games. I know some consultant made big dollar signs flash before your eyes when he talked about synergy and market positioning and platform control, but you know what? He was wrong and the fact that you listened to him just shows me how out of touch you are with your audience.

    Here’s why Steam works: it doesn’t take anything away from me but it does give me something extra. I can still buy games from other sources, but if i buy from Steam i get easier updates, less hassle about playing on multiple machines, and easy access to my stuff with less clutter on my desktop. You want to take away my ability to buy your games on Steam, add more clutter to my desktop, and generally hassle me.

    I like Valve. They make good games, the people that work for them seem happy about what they do, and they always seem to be trying to make my gaming life better.

    I don’t like you, EA. You churn out yearly installments of shitty x+1 formula franchises, the people that work for you seem miserable, and now you’re annoying me with your transparent attempt to own just a little bigger piece of my life.

    I’m sorry that you’re not happy with the 237 gajillion dollars you make from games you sell on Steam, and i understand that you would rather have 238 gajillion dollars, but that’s really not my problem. If you make it a problem for me, you might find yourself with 236 gajillion dollars instead.

    • phosgene says:

      I like you. I think we could be friends.

    • Chris D says:

      Unfortunately, if you were to ask any big company what they do I think the answer you would get would be “We make money.”

      Edit: Although I still liked the rest of the comment

    • Mutak says:

      No, i think they really would say, “We make games.” Of course your response is closer to the truth, but they’re smart enough to give us the lie we want to believe.

  39. PaulMorel says:

    Sigh. TOR looks more and more like SWG.

  40. Jimbo says:

    To be honest, I’m all for cutting out the retailer. I personally don’t feel like I get anything especially valuable out of Steam being a part of the deal – if I can buy directly from the producer then I will. If they start to take the piss with pricing then I know I have the willpower to stop buying their games until they bring the price down to something I’m happy with. There will still be competition, in the form of other companies releasing other games.

    What they should do is price their games so that they make £x per sale from wherever it’s sold digitally. EA Store would be eg. £25 (which is still more profit than they currently make on a Steam or retail sale), Steam would be £25 + Valve’s ~30%. If customers genuinely believe that Steam adds ~30% value to the product -and if Steam have confidence that what they do adds ~30% to the value of the product- then customers will buy from Steam and this arrangement would still work for Valve.

    Of course, in reality, customers would probably come to the conclusion that what Steam actually adds to the product isn’t worth anything like as much as their cut indicates, so they’d just buy direct from EA anyway. Valve know this is what would happen too, so probably wouldn’t accept a situation where they are selling a game at one price while being significantly undercut on the publisher’s own site. That’s fine; that would be their prerogative and EA have already demonstrated that they are prepared to accept that, but at least they could say they gave Valve the option.

    • Chris D says:

      I have only a passing knowldege of this area so correct me if I’m wrong, but in order to undercut Steam like that, don’t they also have to undercut all other retailers? And there’s no reason for stores to stock games they can’t sell so that would mean no more EA games in shops. Taking on Steam is one thing, talking on Steam and High Street retailers at the same time would be a whole lot to chew off in one go.

    • Jimbo says:

      It’s a good point, the retailers would be as against it as Steam. While they’d probably undercut High Street retailers, they wouldn’t necessarily undercut online retailers (of physical copies). You can already order new games online for ~£25 anyway, usually less if you shop around.

      I guess they probably do still value High Street retail support more than Steam support, because they probably think it’s a lot more likely that lost Steam sales turn into Origin (EA Store) sales than it is that lost GAME sales turn into Origin sales. Plus they do still have to work with these companies in the console market, which is still the vast majority of their business.

      If they really wanted to avoid losing High Street retail support while still being aggressive in the digital market, Origin could match High Street price but undercut Steam by forcing the Steam (and other DD sites) price higher (£30 + ~30%). Same argument applies: EA would make just as much from a Steam sale as an Origin sale, and customers would still have the option of buying from Steam, if they genuinely believe the Steam purchase is worth the ~30% cut they take.

      I mean, the result would be the same and Valve would tell them to forget it, but at least EA could point at Valve and say it was their decision.

  41. bluebogle says:

    Well, guess I won’t be buying too many EA games in the future. I’ll be damned if I’m gonna have any more digital distribution clients to muck around with.

  42. Lukasz says:

    Apparently there is limit on how many systems you can activate the game. just three:

    “As an added benefit, Origin’s security enables you to install your game on up to three machines – so you can play at work and at home! ”
    http://support.ea.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/52/showhome/true

    for past 2 hours been arguing on gog that it is a big problem. especially the definition of what consists of a single machine is up to EA (more ram means new machine or not)

    wonder whats rps opinion on that. big deal or not?

  43. ScubaMonster says:

    Lol, so how does EA plan on beating Steam with only EA titles? And I seriously doubt other publishers are going to hop on EA’s bandwagon. Either way, I’m not buying EA’s games if I have to be tied to their stupid service. Their EA Store was handled so poorly I’m not going anywhere near it, and I don’t need a billion digital distribution clients on my computer.

    • polyorpheus says:

      Personally, I think Battlefield and TOR will fail to meet their expectations. CoD, as bland and tiresome as I think it is, is still at the height of its popularity and WoW is, well, WoW. From what I’ve seen of the two, BF3 is a more refined BF:BC2 and TOR is a more story-driven MMO, but still has the cliche’d MMO features. Refinement and better story-driven elements aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but I don’t think it’s enough to move the market much, and it will bite them in the ass, especially if they don’t make it available on Steam on day one.

  44. Jahkaivah says:

    “you talk about platform exclusives like Halo or Uncharted… EA’s going to have some of our own platform exclusives.”

    …so your going to compare yourself to something everyone hates?

    Can’t blame you for being honest I suppose.

  45. Hunam says:

    I always figured that eventually you’d buy games digitally off the publishers after we all went online. EA seems to want to start that now. Though we all know what that means. PC games are about to start getting more expensive.

  46. Kaldor says:

    The technical term for guys at EA would be F*** A***s.

  47. polyorpheus says:

    I don’t trust public companies to have the interests of their customers at heart. Steam/Valve is a private company. The satisfaction of their customers directly affects to their bottom line. EA has investors that fuck that relationship up.

  48. skinlo says:

    http://img192.imageshack.us/img192/3333/1308102784038.jpg

    This is the reason I am refusing to use the service.

    • shoptroll says:

      Heh. I thought they were getting rid of that in Origin? That was one of the reasons people didn’t like their previous store iteration.

    • PaulMorel says:

      wow. dealbreaker.

      I have around 40 games in my “Unplayed Games” category on Steam. I will eventually get around to them, but for some of them, it has certainly been more than a year.

    • Spider Jerusalem says:

      Yeah that’s gone with Origin. Still can only install on three machines, though.

    • Lukasz says:

      I wouldn’t look at that too much tough. Hopefully we will get an official explanation but it might be just lawyer talk. that they don’t promise to support you for eternity.

      neither steam nor gog nor d2d do that but they did not word it like ea did.

      for me it is also another dealbreaker if it true for simple reason that I also have a lot unplayed games bought years ago… i still did not touch kingpin from gog bought 2 years ago and i never played CS: Source which came with my copy of HL2… 6.5 years ago.
      but i could.

  49. DiamondDog says:

    This may seem a little ignorant, I’ll admit I don’t know a thing about how secure our online information is. I just really don’t like the idea of having to hand out my details to a long list of publishers who all want me to come to them directly for the digital versions of their games.

    Maybe I’m just a little jittery after the whole PSN thing. I miss those naive days of thinking my online information was safe.

  50. hotelbananyas says:

    First tap on the last nail of PC gaming as we know it. This is going to be like a format war. Only no one can win because in this case the format/platform holders own the content and are not going to share their toys.
    Ever lasting fragmentation people. Oh the joy. Given the inevitable failure of EA’s montrous earth shattering gamble on Kotor Online and to a lesser degree BF3 I expect John Riciticitello will resign for ‘personel reasons’ withIn a year or two of the formers launch. Hopefully Origin will follow suite.
    Not to say those two games won’t be any or good or have any success. Just that primarily in the MMOs case they will make it to Croydon whilst the budget met the Moon took it for a three michellin star meal and gave permission to be referred to as Nancy for the night.
    Here’s hoping they bash their fingers and bend that nail.