Yesterday, EA announced that their online distribution platform, Origin, had eleven developers pledge their support for future titles, among them Trion Worlds, CD Projekt RED, Freebird Games, Recoil Games, Autumn Games, 1C Company, inXile entertainment, Paradox Interactive, Core Learning Ltd., and N3V.
Trion Worlds is the development studio responsible for the MMO Rift. Jim Butler, the company’s Senior Director of Global Marketing, said the following:
“The digital versions of Rift have seen incredible success, and Origin offers an ideal direct-to-consumer avenue for gamers interested in experiencing the rich world of Telara. Origin has established itself as a destination for top titles currently available in the evolving digital marketplace, so it’s definitely a place that Trion wants to be.”
When Gaming Bus first reported that EA was coming out with the Origin platform, we speculated that it was EA’s intent to directly compete with Steam even though EA was saying this was not the case. Since then, there have been many problems with the Origin service, such as when Gaming Bus reported on Origin accounts being banned for forum violations. Gaming Bus also recently reported that Steam recently saw 100+% growth for the seventh year in a row, though EA’s digital revenues surpassed $1 billion last year as well.
Origin isn’t the only digital market EA has on their hands: they also have many casual and social games thanks to their acquisition of Pop Cap Games, a company known for many casual games like Bejeweled and Zuma. Origin’s VP of Business Development and Marketing, Craig Rechenmacher, reflected on the addition of these new developers:
“Origin is focused on providing choice to consumers and the games they play. From blockbuster franchises to high-quality independent titles, we’re bringing the industry’s best content to one place. We’re excited to welcome new partners and a diverse new line-up of titles to Origin today.”
Gaming Bus contacted the development studios regarding this, but we hadn’t received a response at the time of press.
Analysis: I dislike Origin for many reasons, but personal feelings aside, I think EA is giving greater incentives to developers to jump on board. It’s either this or developers have a little more confidence in Origin after only four months and seeing the amount EA earned in digital sales. The problem I see with this is that we don’t know how many of those sales did not come from Origin.
There’s no way around it: I believe EA is trying to compete directly with Steam and make it seem like they’re the underdog who’s just trying to create better customer service. Personally, I call bullshit. What EA’s doing is using misdirection, and like a viper in the grass, they’re hiding and waiting for the best time to strike at their prey. Now, this could’ve been the plan from the get-go, or they started after they saw how well their sales were doing directly. However, I’m going to say that, with EA’s track record, this was their intent all along.
The other side of the coin is the developers because they don’t want to be left out, either. They need to get their games out there in order to stay in business, and if they’re being promised more time on the front page, a reduced cut in EA’s share after so many copies are sold, or what have you, then they’ll take it. I don’t blame them for wanting to increase sales; it’s a business, and you need sales to survive. I just hope they haven’t made a deal with the devil to make that happen.