When questioned on Origin, Valve’s Gabe Newell has so far been fairly diplomatic, which is tactically sound from a PR perspective. Not that he has a reason to bag it — it’s not like Steam is going to be dethroned any time soon. EA, on the other hand, while not overtly negative about Origin’s main competitor, doesn’t mind delivering the odd, wildly-inaccurate backhand.
Speaking with MCV UK, EA’s senior vice president of global eCommerce David DeMartini suggested, albeit indirectly, that Steam, as a MySpace of sorts, has been waiting for a Facebook-like successor. Which is Origin, obviously. From the interview:
“If MySpace had stayed the one answer in social networking and no one switched to Facebook, then we’d all be stuck on MySpace right now and we wouldn’t have had the Facebook phenomenon … There are better mousetraps that ultimately get built out of this innovation and the only way you get to the innovation is to have other people try and do a better version of what someone has previously done. And that’s what we’re attempting to do on Origin.”
Look, I understand the point he’s making — that competition is a good thing — and it’s a fair, if obvious one. However, the MySpace/Facebook analogy is a poor one. Insulting, even.
Steam is hardly MySpace — for one, its use of magenta, Comic Sans and horrid, animated GIFs is zero. Admittedly, Steam wasn’t always as solid as it is today, I’m sure we all remember the digital release of Half-Life 2. But Valve learned from its mistakes and for that, it’s been rewarded with the most dominant platform around. It’s hard to say the same for MySpace.
The other sad point from the interview is that EA wants to be “90 plus Metacritic at everything”. Games, services, the lot. While DeMartini was talking broadly about the company’s success as a whole, Metacritic is not the most lofty of metrics. For one, the EA-published Kingdoms of Alamur has an aggregated Metacritic score of 80 per cent and we all know how that turned out. Being 10 per cent better than that isn’t really saying much.
Still, EA must be doing something right with Origin — DeMartini mentions the service pulled in $US150 million over the last year, which is a fair chunk of coin in anyone’s book.