EA: Metacritic The Success Metric, Steam The MySpace Of Digital Distribution

EA: Metacritic The Success Metric, Steam The MySpace Of Digital Distribution

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.



  • Origin isnt about inovation its about catchup and control. Both it fails miserably at. Have not bought a game since the terrible experiance with BF3. Not the game itself but the non user friendly controls to even get into the game. Shame I would have liked to play ME3. I notice now that Crysis is back in steam. I have 2 platforms – steam and Blizzard that is all.

    • Sadly though it’s not actually origin’s fault that BF3 had issues. It’s whoever came up with the stupid Battlelog concept

      • That’s not entirely true, in the first month many people myself and my father included would get random disconnects from Origin mid match and I have even had my games disappear on more than 1 occasion. It has also just refused to sign in saying password invalid even though its not then 2 hours later it will let me sign in. My origin client not signing in was not a problem created by Battle Log.

        These are not isolated issues as there were many other people with the same problem on the origin forums.

  • The obsession with Metacritic as a yardstick of success is incredibly frustrating, and a little scary. An obsession with ticking boxes and making games to meet some nebulous external standard can hardly be helpful to an industry that’s accused of lacking creativity or innovation, at least at the AAA level that he means.

      • True, it seems big budget things tend to be risk-averse.

        I guess it’s just more of a shame, for me, when games are involved because their ability to create new and interesting experiences seems so much greater.

  • “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.”

    Yeah.. forcing people to use their service rather than offering a choice (ie. COMPETITION) might have something to do with it.

    • You can always play on Console, no Origin there, or even better, don’t play an EA game, No Origin whatsoever.

  • innovative?
    removing EA games from other distribution platforms (ie steam) and ONLY selling EA games on origin is not innovation.
    It’s a step backwards if anything.

    Steam is good because people like having their games all in one place. Origin does the opposite of this.

  • He will be eating those words once Steam gets increased traffic and income when Dark Souls and Final Fantasy 7 are released in Steam.

  • When Origin can actually get fucking *purchases* working correctly (which Steam does flawlessly, and Origin fails miserably at — try to do an in-app purchase from ME3 and *not* be in the US) , then maybe Origin can perhaps claim to be a reasonable competitor.

  • I know hating on EA is the cool thing, but in my limited experience, I found Origin to be nicer to use. Steam has improved over time, but it still gets the occasional lock-up, crash, or inability to download games (usually until you tell it to “verify integrity of game cache”). The store is already excellent, very well priced games and an awesome range, but the client itself could do with a lot of work.
    Would also be nice to get some new features; the ability to group games by franchise, and perhaps a “party mode”, which could be enabled when children are over, allowing them to play any of the installed games, but not close steam or access the rest of the system.

    • Sorry to be the reality in your dream but it’s not like that. The prices they have on Origin are the same RRP as EB and all the other ripoffs which does not appeal to me as a gamer. Honestly, I’ve got more problems on Origin than Steam. Sure there are some silly stuff Steam does but Origin is worse. I’ve experienced complete drop outs when hosting people drop (there goes all my hard work), the odd downloads that don’t work (and the frustration in asking EA support for that) and as well as Origin wanting to know what I’m doing at this moment (definitely made sure not to send any reports to EA for that!).

      And freedom on Origin? Don’t make me laugh. At least Steam gives you the option of going offline if needed. Origin has to be ONLINE ALL THE TIME regardless of the game. A single player game that needs to be online is not a joke, it’s verging on fanatical control. Can’t get online because of speed shaping, EA has too bad and boots you.

      All in all, Origin is a nice concept….for a persistent DRM.

  • Origin will never be the facebook of digital platforms. It’s the bebo, hi-5, msn spaces etc.

    Get over yourself EA.

  • Or they could be making up the sales in order to look in front of investors. Wouldn’t surprise me honestly, which investor ever honestly checks this stuff

  • Until Origin pick their game up, customer-service wise, they’re going to be stuck as a second-rate digital platform. I’ve had nothing but bad experiences with using their CS and it’s no-where near Steam’s level.

  • I think there are a couple of points to make.

    Firstly: I think Origin and EA are trying downplay their hiccups and say “Oh, well Steam had it too remember! See see!” What they are forgetting is that Steam was pioneering the digital distribution platform. It had hiccups because no one really knew what they were doing and no one had seen anything like Steam before. EA and Origin have had 8 years or whatever it is to at least emulate the positives of Steam and have something that is a viable alternative. Instead they’ve delivered something which is – in my experience – nothing more than a flashy Store/DRM … program (I’m not going to call it a service). Steam may have had hiccups early on, and may continue to have hiccups, but I think that it a) does a lot and b) does a lot of stuff really well – so much so that it doesn’t really matter what competitors have because Steam probably already does and does it better.

    Secondly: That $150million (and this is nothing more than a wild guess) can probbaly be attributed to two highly anticipated titles (BF3 and Mass Effect 3). I don’t think it was people flocking to Origin because it was a cool and new DD service, but rather they had to because those titles weren’t on Steam.

    That’s what I think anyway!

  • Origin is doing so well coz it has kickass titles on it. if games like BF3, ME3 and Crysis got released on steam no one would use origin. you still suck origin.

  • Origin have a long long long long long long long long long long long long long long long long long long long long long long long long long way go be fore they came anywhere new the greatness of Steam.
    Does Origin even have a “proper” way backing your games up yet?

    Fair shake of the sauce bottle EA. lol

    • The only reason I’ve used Origin is because they made me to play Crysis 2 and BF3.

      The only reason I haven’t played ME3 is because of Origin.

      Your sure onto a winner there EA

  • It’s probably safe to say that 95% of that $150 million revenue is Battlefield, BF Premium and the weapon DLC. Other than that, it’s failing miserably. The prices compared to Steam are mostly laughable and provide no competition whatsoever, there aren’t any sales or deals to get people to impulse buy and the customer service stinks. For a company that’s already hemorrhaging money from poor decisions, it’s not good.

    • ^ This. Only purchased BF3 Premium so far. Given the opportunity , would have purchased it via Steam.

      Also the store page flashes annoyingly on load until I resize the window. :/

  • I recently downloaded origin just to play ME3 (was going to skip it but it was half price a few weeks back and I really wanted to play it with my save files) – been an ok experience so far, don’t play a lot of ea games on PC so i doubt I’ll use it again.

  • Valve – Value adding, customer loyality
    EA – Bottom line economic rationalism, content control

    Valve are making and distrubuting video games; EA is fighting a war.

  • Egiomaniacal is the word when you have comments like this coming out of EA while Steam continues to kick Origins arse from one side of the field to the other in sales.

  • EA is exhibiting an attitude akin to that of Kayne West, they talk big yet they have very little to show for it. As for Origin, kill it, I could care less if it evaporates into thin air, Origin literally puts a user on a leash, that’s what it does best. EA see their consumers as livestock, they don’t care how morally crippling their acts are as long as it racks in revenue.

  • once origin drops that beta next to it’s name at the top of the launcher, then we’ll talk.. i highly doubt seeing the level of discounted offers as on steam, on origin anytime soon/ever.

  • To those who have any problem with a platform i think you should just email the developers since lets face it no matter what company they never pay attention to their items faults so you should make them awair.

  • I hate the fact that after my Origin updated, it now takes me to the Origin sales tab before I can see the “My Games” tab… No I don’t want to purchase The Sims 3!

  • The ONLY thing Origin did to earn that money is ME3 exclusive and BF3 exclusive.
    You can bet your ass if either of those games had been available on Steam, they’d have a HELL of a lot less to be crowing about.

    Securing high-rep exclusives probably won’t come too easily for them from now on, either. So. Let’s see how their (already shown false) no-cheapening-sales, fewer-features-for-higher-prices attitude plays out for them.

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