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EA building Origin 'exclusives' [Update: didn't pull Crysis 2 from Steam]

by Alice O'Connor, Jun 15, 2011 9:45am PDT

[Update: 11:10] EA has told Giant Bomb that it didn't pull Crysis 2 from Steam. Rather, Crytek's shooter was pushed out by new Steam terms.

"It's unfortunate that Steam has removed Crysis 2 from their service," a company representative said. "This was not an EA decision or the result of any action by EA."

Steam has imposed a set of business terms for developers hoping to sell content on that service – many of which are not imposed by other online game services. Unfortunately, Crytek has an agreement with another download service which violates the new rules from Steam and resulted in its expulsion of Crysis 2 from Steam.

[Original] Following EA's recent launch of Origin, its rebranding of the EA Store digital distribution site, the publisher has made a bit of a bid for power. EA has pulled Crysis 2 from Valve's wildly popular rival store Steam, and revealed plans to have more games exclusive to Origin.

Crysis 2 had been available on Steam since its launch in March but has now vanished. EA's site curiously lists Crytek's shooter as being "only on Origin," but other digital stores including Direct2Drive and Amazon are still selling it. A digital copy from Amazon is $8 cheaper, too.

Spicy Horse's Alice: Madness Returns, which launched in North America yesterday, is listed as being "Only available on Origin until June 17th." This too is still available on other sites. So far, it seems only Steam is being targeted, though it still sells plenty of other EA games.

This is all part of EA's grand plans to for Origin as a bona fide "platform," which company president Frank Gibeau has explained in an interview with GamesIndustry.biz.

"For us it's really about, we're the worldwide leader in packaged goods publishing, we'd like to be the worldwide leader in digital publishing," Gibeau said.

"We are going to continue to be great partners for our retail channel partners as they evolve their business models to account for digital," he explained. "But at the same time you talk about platform exclusives like Halo or Uncharted, EA's going to have some of our own platform exclusives."

"We think that EA has unique strengths there related to what we can do with our content, because we're a content creator as well as a retailer in this business. But in general it's not just a retail site, it's a community, it's a platform, it has traits much like you see with Steam or PSN or Xbox Live, but it's unique to EA."

Comparing the entire online aspect of consoles to a digital distributor which only sells PC published by one single company might seem baffling, but evidently EA's thinking big. Origin already has rudimentary social features, though nowhere near those offered by Steam, and EA plans to expand them. It's not entirely hostile toward other digital distributors, though.

"I think long-term you'll see we believe in reach so we will have other digital retailers for out products because we want to reach as many audiences as possible," Gibeau said. "But at the same time if we can use exclusive content or other ideas to help grow our audience then we're going to do that because we're growing a platform."

Origin will also be the only digital store selling BioWare's MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic, EA revealed when it relaunched the site, which Gibeau explains as because "we're trying to build an audience for Origin. And it's also an opportunity for us to better manage the downloads and how we bring people over from the beta and that sort of thing.

One wonders how all this might affect EA's relationship with Valve, who's used EA to distribute retail versions of its games for several years now.





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