Yesterday, Kotaku’s Stephen Totilo published an interview he had with EA’s Chief Operating Officer, Peter Moore, about the company’s new online distribution platform, Origin. What you many not remember is that he used to be with Mircrosoft’s XBox division and then went to EA to head the Sports division in 2007.
The interview starts off asking Moore talking about Steam:
“If you go back and dust off the transcripts of when Steam first came out, it had the same reaction. People didn’t like it. You were obligated.”
This is, in my opinion, comparing apples to a sponge in the sea. The reason I feel this way is that EA already had an online distribution platform called the EA Online Store. The reason people never wanted to use it was because EA charged extra for you to download your games, and that was only guaranteed for two years from the purchase date. The other major complaint I’d heard and seen for myself was that the download speeds were horrifically slow. At that time, Steam was much faster than EA’s service, so it’s silly to think that anyone would want to use a slower and more expensive service.
Everyone at EA seems to think that just because Origin is new and different that it’ll clean the slate of their previous actions. Valve didn’t have another online distribution system before Steam, so their argument is invalid. The reason many people spoke out against Steam was because they didn’t know what was going to happen or how it would affect them personally. I know I heard many say Valve was going to force everyone online to play any game and we couldn’t download the games anytime we wanted. I know it seems silly now, but we knew nothing and many planned for the worst. However, I’ll agree with this statement:
“They provided, over the years—to Gabe and the team’s credit—value to the gamer. Those first 12 months were very rocky.”
Things were very rocky, but they put their best foot forward and were honest with everyone. By contrast, EA has been completely dishonest with what Origin would be from the get-go: they said it wouldn’t compete with Steam, but that’s bullshit. That’s exactly what it’s doing, and that’s what they planned all along; they just obfuscated their true intentions so they could make their games require Origin. It’s greed, plain and simple. Here’s what Moore said about why Origin exists:
“We felt the PC business was having a little bit of a renaissance, and we felt great opportunity with both Star Wars and Battlefield. Mass Effect to come. That this was the time to build out a true platform.”
Looking at this statement, it tells me that from the beginning, EA’s plan was to compete with Steam. They just lied to everyone else and hoped we would’ve forgotten this. Some have, obviously, but I haven’t and I’m trying to humbly remind everyone else of it as well.
Then Moore touched on how people feel about requiring Origin:
“We need to continue to add social layers so there is value to the consumer so it doesn’t feel like, in their words, ‘something that is mandatory that I don’t want.’ And it got off to a rocky start for all the wrong reasons which were mostly inaccurate: accusations of spyware. The EULA… We were clearly focused on by some folks who said, ‘We don’t like this. How can we start picking things apart?'”
I’m not going to disagree with Moore about changing our hearts and minds here because that does need to happen. However, Moore is obviously wrong about one thing, and that’s the EULA. I wrote an article about it here at Gaming Bus, and I recommend you read it before moving onto my rebuttal to Moore’s statement.
The EULA was worded in such a way that it gave EA the right to look at our private data, use it any way they saw fit, and monitor our activities online. I have this to ask Mr. Moore, what is wrong with you and EA? This wasn’t idle speculation, nor was it people nitpicking about something they didn’t like, so they found a reason. The EULA was an invasion of privacy, plain and simple. EA was trying to make it so they could make money off of targeted ads in games, sell the information to telemarketers and spammers, spy on its customers, and give us no legal recourse in the matter. There’s no reasonable argument that one can make that would justify these terms in a way that would benefit a user, not a single one.
After that statement from Moore, the conversation turned to this:
“It’s an open platform. There is nothing I would love more than to have Valve’s… everybody’s games. We’re talking to every publisher, as you can imagine. I think it’s healthy for the industry to have more opportunities to go, if you will, to shop around, to find different things that you like, different content. The more stores there are for me in the mall, the more entertaining it is. Sometimes my wife will drag me to a little boutique mall that’s got like eight stores. [groans] I like the gamut. I like choice.”
I agree we need to have more options and places to buy our games, but EA went away from Steam because Valve told them that using Steam as a distribution platform for their games meant they couldn’t sell DLC exclusively with another service. Thus, if they offered it on D2D, they had to offer it on Steam and they didn’t like that. Again, what EA wanted was more of the profits, and they didn’t like being told what to do with their games. I agree with EA here to a point: no company should be told what to do with their products in the business. However, I also whole-heartedly support Valve in this because EA was denying Steam users the opportunity to get this DLC, thus hurting them and Valve. This means that Valve will do what’s right for all customers even if companies like EA don’t think they should have a say.
Finally, Moore gave this statement in regards to where Origin is headed:
“It’s one of those things where I would ask give us 18 months to two years. And if we sit here two years from now, start looking at it then. I think the ability to have your own direct platform with the consumer is going to be very important in the digital world going forward.”
The only reason I think Origin is going to be around in two years is because they’re requiring it for their games. What I think EA needs to do is stop thinking like mine, mine, mine I want all the money for a short while, if only to realize these simple truths. First, for them to say they want an open platform, they need to provide all content fairly to all distributors, not just the ones they can get the best deal from. Second, they need to stop trying to make themselves out to be the underdog fighting the big bad Steam entity. They’ve done many things right, and EA’s playing catch up; the best they could do to gain popular opinion is to play the sympathy card here. Third, EA needs to stop lying to everyone to make themselves sound better. I haven’t heard Valve lie to me once since Steam was announced. What makes them think I’m going to stay with Origin when I know they’ve lied to everyone? Finally, it seems that everything that comes out of EA is based on money, and their actions show that they want more of it. They really need to stop acting like they’re the only game business that deserves to make a profit.
I will never use Origin beyond playing a game I want, and that’s as far as I’ll go. I know those who absolutely refuse to use it, and I’ve boycotted companies and games before; but in the end, I was one of the few that never got to play because almost everyone chickened out on day one. Nothing is for certain in life, and the same goes for Steam and Origin. In the end, I think it’ll have to do with how customers are treated both on the platform and off it to determine who will live. I have no problems paying for an EA game on Steam and having to install Origin because it’s required, but I should have the option to buy it on the platform I want and not be forced to buy it from one place because EA’s being greedy. This is how I’m sure many others see it, and I think if they keep that mindset, they’ll fail—but only because they don’t know how to practice what they preach.