While speaking at Gamescom this week EA Chief Operating Officer Peter Moore has claimed that there’s no feud between EA and Valve over their rival digital distribution platforms Origin and Steam.
It wasn’t long after the launch of Origin in June 2011 that all EA games were taken off Steam. The response from EA when quizzed by journos was to explain that it was to do with the fact Valve was stubborn about the direct interaction between EA and its customers via Steam.
Come April this year, what appeared to be fighting talk came from the mouth of Valve boss Gabe Newell when he claimed Origin was miles away from becoming the service it needs to be. "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," he said. "I think they're recognizing what the challenges are with building and scaling out this kind of system."
Well Moore has come out this week and said simply “there’s no feud”.
"Remember, we're the guys who published Left 4 Dead and Portal 2. It's Valve. Gabe's a great friend of EA's. We're a great friend of his, we like to think.
"They have different terms and conditions that they put on their games that don't meet what we would like to do with our gamers. They insist on being a layer between the game developer and publisher and the consumer. They take a piece of the revenue stream. And they don't allow us to go directly to the consumer to do patches and updates. So we just agree to disagree. It's not a feud. They have their terms and conditions. We do. They don't meet. So we go do what we do, and they're doing very well at doing what they do."
So why are there no EA games on Steam anymore? "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."
Whether or not we’ll see the sentiment come to any fruition or not, we don’t’ know, but apparently the games may come back to Steam at some point on the condition Valve goes a little easier on how companies are allowed to interact with their customers. "We're very clear on what we want to do to be able to put a game on a platform and interact with the gamer," Moore said. "The current terms and conditions of Steam don't allow that. If they change to meet the contract with the gamer we set out to do, then of course things might change. But until then, nothing's going to change."
Dave DeMartini, the man in charge of Origin over at EA, who said the service wouldn’t be offering the kind of massive discounts Steam sales frequently do as he feels it “cheapens intellectual property”.
Moore revealed that the price of games on Origin isn’t always down to EA but is often set by the publishers themselves; the sales details are largely left to them. "I can't speak about what Steam needs to do to drive their business. That's their business and they do it very well," he said. "From Origin's point of view, we look at what we feel is the correct price for a piece of content. That pricing is often set by the developer and publisher. Not us. There are terms and conditions they want to meet and then that's their business."
Even with the problem EA has with the finer details of how Steam sales are dealt with, EA games may still publish games made by Valve at some point.
"We've always enjoyed that publishing relationship. And it is my team that does it. But there are no conversations going on right now. I don't know what their plans are right now. So, of course, we've had a great relationship from the publishing end, and I'd like to think they've enjoyed us publishing their content. I certainly think we've done a good job."
EA is putting more and more resource into Origin as time goes by, indeed EA announced in its Gamescom press conference this week that the service will be coming to Mac, Facebook, Android and SmartTVs.
"We need to continue to add more value to the Origin consumer," he said. "We talked on stage about the features we'll add. That was a roadmap for the next six to nine months. I use Origin everyday, and more and more, as the teams update and update, I find it more and more useful for me to find my friends, find the games I'm playing, navigation is getting better, my achievements. So it's becoming even stickier, to use an old web term.
"That's our goal. We've got to make this the place you want to go to to play your games, find your friends, buy your games, interact with the games themselves. We're building community layers in there each and every month as it develops. You'll see updates all the time. It's got to enhance your gaming experience in simple terms. That's our job, to be able to do that."