You and I may get very excited about the big sales frequently run by Steam and many other PC digital distributors, but the chap behind Origin at Electronic Arts is not convinced such huge discounts are good. Interviewed at E3, EA's senior VP of global ecommerce David DeMartini opined that offering big discounts on Steam "cheapens your intellectual property."
"Obviously they think it's the right thing to do after a certain amount of time," DeMartini said of Steam to GamesIndustry International. "I just think it cheapens your intellectual property."
"We're trying to give you a fair price point, and occasionally there will be things that are on sale you could look for a discount, just don't look for 75%-off going-out-of-business sales," he explained. That "certainly works for Valve," he thinks, but "I don't know if it works as well for the publishing partners who take on the majority of that haircut."
"If you want to sell a whole bunch of units, that is certainly a way to do that, to sell a whole bunch of stuff at a low price. The gamemakers work incredibly hard to make this intellectual property, and we're not trying to be Target. We're trying to be Nordstrom."
It's a curious comparison to draw, as Steam beats Origin by far on both pricing and client experience. However, plans are supposedly afoot to win customer's hearts and minds in a way other than cutting prices, to "form a longer-term relationship with them and draw them in that way." What exactly this will entail is under wraps for now. Ponies, maybe.
He's not the only one to have criticised Steam for this, mind. In April, GOG commented that huge Steam discounts damage the "long-term value of your brand because people will just wait for the next insane sale."
That said, Steam discounts have certainly been a huge success for some developers who don't mind making less money per sale if the volume increases massively. Darwinia creator Introversion has credited a Steam promotion with saving the studio from closure.