Between its similar distribution model and accent on exclusive's, EA's Origin storefront has been widely interpreted as the company's attempt to compete with digital sales giant Steam. EA executives shy away from such a one-on-one battle, though, stating in a recent interview that they believe Origin has different goals from Steam, and stating that the marketplace has plenty of room for both.
"There's a space for Steam, there's a space for Origin, there's a space for third party e-tailers. Both pure e-tailers and traditional retailers that are entering the digital distribution space."
"I don't even know if Steam Vs. Origin is a proper battle," EA Europe's Jens Uwe Intat told GamesIndustry.biz. "I would rephrase that a little. I would say that we're introducing Origin as our consumer relationship platform. We want to build a platform that allows consumers to have the best experience you could ever had with EA games. It's going to be one of the offerings that consumers can use."
The launch of Origin and its competition with Steam has been accented by various EA games being pulled from Steam, or precluded by EA altogether, as in the case of Battlefield 3. EA has consistently said this is due to Steam's restrictive terms, a sentiment echoed by Markus "Notch" Persson on why Minecraft hasn't hit the service. Last we heard, Valve boss Gabe Newell said the service has to prove its worth to EA.
"We want to be able to support our customer directly," said EA's Peter Moore. "If there are opportunities to do that, then we'll do that. If Valve, through Steam are willing to allow us to do that, then there are no issues whatsoever. In the instances where you're not seeing a game on Steam, it's primarily because we can't deal directly with our consumer to resolve issues and do things we want to be able to do."
Meanwhile, Origin is growing fast, having already reached 4 million installs of its client. Whether EA intends it or not, Origin could position itself as a viable competitor to Valve.