By James Brightman
EA today tried to clear the air about its relationship with Steam and the digital publishing of EA intellectual property. EA wants to completely manage the relationship with the customer and that’s something Valve isn’t willing to allow. But EA believes it offers a lot to others who might wish to use Origin as a digital platform. Indeed, Origin could become much more than simply an EA portal – EA’s SVP of global online David DeMartini indicated to IndustryGamers today that he’d love to see other publishers put their games on Origin.
“A lot of other publishers are looking at viable channels for making their content available, and we would welcome them on Origin and hope that they would see the value of what we’re trying to bring with the Origin client in association with their games as well,” he said.
“Battlefield 3 is going to win this year in the shooter category, and largely we’re being driven by other great shooters that are out there. That kind of competitive spirit and landscape is what is driving our team to make Origin better on a day to day basis.”
DeMartini continued, “We would absolutely welcome that kind of evolution. We have a large team of people here that’s continuing to expand the Origin feature set. The social feature set, the cross-platform capability… when that’s extended into some of our key intellectual properties in the next 3-6 months, people are going to see the value in the game experience of that integration between Origin and the games. And if there are other publishers that would want to take advantage of our ability to reach customers or take advantage of that same feature set we absolutely would welcome that. People want to be able to have access to great content, and as much as we’re willing to sell our content anywhere under these high level principles we’ve established I imagine there are other publishers who want to try to make their content available everywhere they can as well.”
If EA ultimately goes down this road with Origin, the service will in essence become a direct competitor to Steam, Direct2Drive and other digital services. DeMartini doesn’t think that’s a problem at all, as there should be room enough in the market for everybody, and a little competition has always been good for business, he said.
“It’s interesting because we do have a long-standing relationship with those guys, and I think in this industry ‘coopetition’ has been an element of our existence for a long, long time; for example, with the hardware manufacturers, we both make software, yet they make the platforms. This is something we’ve become quite expert at over the years. I think you always approach these situations with a healthy amount of respect and you always give customers choices, and if customers choose to purchase through a digital site of any kind we’re very excited about that because they’re buying an EA product and then we take that relationship seriously and will create a great experience for them. I think it’s important that customers have choice, and what Origin is is another choice for customers,” he said.
“If they choose not to come onto Origin and buy from their existing service, that’s great. That’s absolutely how the U.S. was built on capitalism and the ability to have choice. And if you want to win at that, it’s your responsibility to create a better service. Our best games have always been developed when there have been other strong brands in the marketplace. Battlefield 3 is going to win this year in the shooter category, and largely we’re being driven by other great shooters that are out there. That kind of competitive spirit and landscape is what is driving our team to make Origin better on a day to day basis. A whole bunch of people come in here everyday with passion for what they’re doing, just as the people at Direct2Drive come in trying to catch Origin, and the people at Steam are continuing to try to push ahead I imagine. It’s great for the industry; it just makes all of these services better.”
“Just as with Facebook and LinkedIn, it’s not like just because there’s Facebook there can’t be LinkedIn. Customers have choice, and maybe each [service] carves out their slightly specific niches. I think there’s space for a lot of people in digital commerce. Origin extends it and provides a little more platform features and some of those social features, and we’re going to very much push forward to expanding that feature set so that when customers from any other service come to our platform they will be quite proud of what we’ve accomplished and will consider making it part of their entire lineup.”