Last month, Crysis 2 mysteriously vanished from Steam just as publisher EA was talking about securing more "exclusives" for its own new digital distributor, Origin. This turned out to be a rather unhappy coincidence for EA, who later explained that "Steam has imposed a set of business terms" incompatible with an agreement developer Crytek had with "another download service." Thus, Crysis 2 was ejected from Steam, EA said, not pulled. But why, exactly?
Speaking to Gamasutra, EA senior VP of global e-commerce David DeMartini has now explained the situation. Crysis 2 was taken down, he says, because its downloadable content was sold through rival service Direct2Drive, and not through Steam, denying Valve a slice of the pie.
Presumably, the "agreement with another download service which violates [Steam's] new rules" which EA spoke of in June was a DLC exclusivity deal with Direct2Drive. This would suggest that Valve's policy change was to require DLC be sold through it as well.
"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," DeMartini said.
However, an exclusivity deal would be contrary to EA's "policy on selling games on third-party download sites," which was revealed yesterday, and which DeMartini introduced with a blog post.
"At EA, we believe in choice," the policy states. "We want our products in all the places gamers go to download the best games and services." With the exception of DLC, it seems.
Something's wonky somewhere. Shacknews has contacted Valve and EA for comment and further clarification.
DeMartini also revealed that EA plans to integrate its Origin platform into many of its games in future. "Every one of the significant franchises is working with us to integrate more and more between the game and Origin," he said. Presumably this will come in the form of auto-updating, friend list integration, DLC sales, and such--services already offered by Steam.
DeMartini said that while "I am absolutely not at this point saying, 'hey, it's Origin versus Steam,' It's never been about that," he does foresee more potential conflicts with Valve in the future.
"They're really smart, they've done a great job with Steam, and I just find it interesting that some of the ways they've built their business are specifically some of the areas of conflict between us on a going forward basis," he explained.
"Occasionally, you just both feel very strongly about a position that you believe in, and that doesn't mean you've lost any respect for each other--it's fundamentally you don't agree on how a certain thing should be handled." he added, "In this particular case, we feel incredibly strongly about our responsibility on a going-forward basis as it relates to our own IP."