Several weeks ago Electronic Arts announced that its online downloadable PC store was getting a facelift and a new name: Origin. The service was seen by many to be EA's attempt to compete with other downloadable retail PC game outlets, particularity Valve's Steam service. Now in a new blog posting on EA's web site the head of the company's Origin business hints that it has some conflicts with Valve on how to update EA games on Steam.
In his blog post, EA senior vice president David DeMartini states that EA is still going to offer its PC games via other download sites, including Steam, "except under extremely special circumstances". One of those special circumstances is the release of the upcoming MMO, Star Wars The Old Republic. EA has already announced that the game will only be available to download via Origin when it is released later in 2011, although it will still be sold in brick and mortar retail stores as well.
A few weeks ago, the sci-fi shooter Crysis 2 was taken off of Steam. In a chat with Gamasutra, DeMartini states the reason was "because the DLC was not available through Steam; it was available through [Direct2Drive]. That would, I guess, be a situation where two partners didn't see eye to eye, and by their choice, they were going to take that product down because they were insisting that the DLC be available through Steam"
EA states that it wants "direct responsibility for providing patches, updates, additional content and other services to our players". While he didn't mention Steam by name, DeMartini stated in his blog post, "At present, there is only one download service that will not allow this relationship. This is not our choice, and unfortunately it is their customer base that is most impacted by this decision. We are working diligently to find a mutually agreeable solution." So far Valve has yet to comment on EA's statements.