Electronic Arts' digital storefront is expanding next month, with the news that Warner Bros., THQ and Capcom will begin offering some of their releases through Origin. Batman: Arkham City and Saints Row: The Third are the only games mentioned by name but more will be available and "additional titles" are promised in the coming months. Both of those games will still be available elsewhere so this is a case of choice rather than exclusivity. Maybe it will lead to discount wars, maybe it'll lead to people shrugging and continuing to purchase games from their preferred distributor, but it does feel like a significant step for Origin. The future looks increasingly competitive. EA-speak below.
“Since launch, we’ve had overwhelming support from both publishers and developers across the gaming industry, recognizing Origin as an opportunity to deliver more of their great content straight to consumers across the globe,” said David DeMartini, senior vice president of Origin at EA. “We’re excited to welcome Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, THQ and Capcom as the first publishers to offer their games via Origin.”
My feeling is that offering more titles from however many publishers won't be enough. If Origin really wants to be competitive, they'll do that on level of service and price, and the reports of problems with Battlefield 3 authentication don't inspire a huge deal of confidence at the moment. Only time will tell if anything is due to change in regards to that but this move does pour fresh water onto the wheel of the rumour mill concerning tensions between Valve and EA.
There's no word on whether only new releases will be available or whether the deals allow access to the publishers' back catalogues. Would it make any difference? It's easy to say that competition is healthy but the health of the competitors must be taken into account. It's worth remembering that Steam had problems at launch, but does anyone see Origin winning over hearts and minds?