Valve boss Gabe Newell has, like many of us these past few months, taken EA's new Origin service for a spin. Hearing his thoughts on the thing are interesting, though, because he runs the company that runs Origin's dominant competitor.
"I think it does some things well" Newell told PC Gamer. "I think there are still some areas where, as a customer, I'd like to see it improve. It's not that different from any other system like this. There are positive things and negative things."
With the release of the Battlefield 3 demo this week, I've had to use Origin, and have hated every second of it. Mostly because it takes an eternity to get up and running, but also because when once running, there are always hangs or errors. Which for a service people have to use to play such a big game isn't good enough.
Asked later about competition for his own service, Newell gets to the very heart of what's wrong with Origin, saying "I and everyone at Valve know that you're only as successful as what you've done lately."
"So the idea that Steam is somehow the answer to digital distribution ignores the fact that every two or three years, something is going to change dramatically."
And this is why none of Steam's competitors, Origin included, can make a dent in Valve's domination of the PC download market. Steam is successful because it came in and did something new, perfected it, and is now reaping the benefits. Instead of building something new, something that will replace Steam, other companies just keep making Steam clones that don't work as well as Steam does.