Origin courting 'forward-looking' third parties

By Andrew Yoon, Jul 26, 2011 5:45pm PDT

EA's controversial digital service, Origin, will be expanding its offerings beyond the publisher's games. The newly launched storefront is planned to feature platform "exclusives," being the only place to digitally download the upcoming MMO, Star Wars: The Old Republic. EA CEO John Riccitiello told investors at a conference call today that "forward-looking publishers" have been asking to join the service--a digital storefront that's directly competing with Steam and traditional retail outlets.

"We don't see a conflict," Riccitiello said, confident in the company's future plans with Origin. "This is core to our strategy."

"We've had a lot of inbound inquiry about getting on," Riccitiello explained. "Many forward-looking publishers really want their content on any and every platform possible. One more sale is better than not. By way of example, even though we have Origin, we are pushing EA content digitally on any and every platform that we can."

Although EA would like to propagate their content across as many channels as possible, Steam has been a point of contention. The market leader currently does not offer Crysis 2 for sale, for example.

One investor asked if Origin would threaten the publisher's relationship with retailers. Riccitiello admitted that "yes, our margins are better on Origin." By selling directly to the consumer, the company bypasses the cuts retailers and digital storefronts take on sales. However, "we think our ecosystem is critically important to the vitality of our sector and the company, so we're strong on supporting [retail]."

"We hope to be HBO meets Netflix for gaming. But we're also very keen to have our content distributed anywhere and everywhere gamers are."

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