While today's release of free Shift 2 DLC on Origin may have won some gamers over, EA has a long way to go before it can convince the masses to switch to its new digital storefront--especially given the lofty goals the publisher has placed on the service. EA's Frank Gibeau told GI.biz that "we're the worldwide leader in packaged goods publishing, we'd like to be the worldwide leader in digital publishing."
But how will EA manage to oust rivals in an area where Steam is such a clear leader? Through exclusives, of course. Gibeau is careful to point out that it's not EA's goal to alienate its partners. "We are going to continue to be great partners for our retail channel partners and as they evolve their business models to account for digital." However, the only way to properly expand Origin is to restrict content from other channels. "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."
One of the big exclusives for the platform is the upcoming MMO, Star Wars: The Old Republic. Gibeau is not shy to admit that this is a game meant to attract people to the platform, not the other way around. "In the case of Star Wars we're trying to build an audience for Origin." But why Star Wars? "For a lot of reasons it made sense for an MMO, which is a highly complex deployment... 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." Unfortunately, Gibeau didn't go into detail on how Origin would make this process better for users.
EA is taking a gamble by restricting the audience of The Old Republic to those that opt to participate in its platform. However, at least some can take comfort in knowing that EA may not keep the gates closed off for long. "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."