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Catherine
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« on: June 03, 2011, 12:05:56 AM »


EA looks like it wants to muscle in on some of the action with PC digital and online gaming with the launch of Origin, its own digital game distributor, which is a smart move considering the PC gaming market continues to grow, but retail sales are absolutely dismal. It’s been made absolutely clear in the past few years that digital distribution for PC is king. With a third party digital distributor like Valve’s Steam, a gamer can buy a game and be downloading it within the same minute—often for much cheaper than the game’s retail counterpart. Not to mention, Steam and Microsoft’s Games for Windows LIVE offer achievements to keep gamers’ egos warm, fuzzy, and well-stroked. Nothing says return customers like happy customers. Retail doesn’t even stand a chance.

As it stands, Steam has a tight fist on digital distribution. According to Forbes, Valve is estimated to hold about 50-70% of the digital market share, although its refusal to publish sales figures makes this number a bit of a wild stab in the dark. EA has the trouble of pitting Origin against not only Steam, but also other rising 3rd party competitors such as Amazon and Gamestop, who are beginning to take a crack at Steam’s market dominance.

Microsoft had tried to compete with Steam with Games for Windows LIVE (even if Microsoft claims to not) and pretty much, well… failed. It does have a small portion of the market share (if only because it is forced upon certain games, even those bought off Steam), but it still has nowhere near the popularity that Steam does with PC gamers, even after being around for four years on the market. (This doesn’t count Games on Demand, which was launched in December 2009, of course.) Then again, Microsoft made a critical mistake by doing a sloppy job with Games. It’s an obvious cut-and-paste from Xbox Live and once even bore “Xbox login” on its login page. Not exactly a good way to try and win over PC gamers, especially the hardcore ones who swear by PC gaming, and only PC gaming.

The only way I see EA’s Origin service really taking off, or at least enough to be profitable, is if they expand their gaming distribution to rival Steam’s and have their application be better than Steam’s. Their gaming distribution is going to launch with a dismal 150 titles, no doubt all related to EA. Although this is pretty good for an initial launch, they’re going to have to touch bases with (ahem, pay off) other publishers and developers to get them to put their titles on Origin. One of the reasons why Steam is so popular is that it’s a relatively cheap and easy way for indie developers to distribute their games. EA is going to have to find a way to provide a similar service.

There really isn’t much of a compromise in this case, unless they decide to force Origin on all gamers who buy EA games, just as Microsoft has done with Games for Windows LIVE. Otherwise, whether or not they’re really looking to compete with Steam, they’ve already taken off their gloves, promptly smacked Valve in the face, and declared a duel at noon, because otherwise gamers will continue to buy from Steam. EA is going to have to pull its games off of Steam (which I think is unlikely since it would be an extremely unpopular move), offer lower prices, or offer exclusive content worthwhile enough to draw gamers away from Steam, or at least enough to start buying EA games from Origin. Even then, I know most PC gamers won’t make the move or only do so after much bitching since having two applications for gaming that don’t in anyway relate to each other is a bit of a hassle. I think EA realizes this and it’s the only reason it’s offering The Old Republic exclusively on Origin as some sort of desperate move to try and draw some users. If all other publishers pick up and decide to do the same thing as EA, users are going to have to put up with opening up seven different applications to play different games. It’s why many gamers go for Steam in the first place over other distributors. All games, achievements, user-specific settings, profiles, and a chat service that integrates decently into games are all in one place. And since Steam has been around for a while, EA’s going to have to the beast that is customer loyalty.

Not all hope is lost for EA, however. If it offers decent enough cross-platform support, particularly with mobile devices, which Valve has yet to integrate with Steam, it may be able to win a gamer base that games on multiple consoles who won’t necessarily stick with Steam if EA provides better prices and perks for playing mini-games on different platforms.

We’ll see how EA’s Origin application initially compares with Steam, as it is set to launch tomorrow on June 3rd.

Well, here's an update after I tried out Origin. This is just a first look. I'll probably post an update again after I've bought an EA game retail to redeem it and had a chance to try out the chat/game integration:

If anyone's popped Origin beta open and gave it a spin, you're going to notice immediately that it looks like Steam. The navigation up top is almost exactly the same. Steam has the Store, Library, News, and Community sections, but so far Origin only has My Games and Store.

Sadly, any EA games that I already bought off Steam did not register on my Origin account, even though they do allow users to redeem retail editions of the game with the same CD key (as Valve already offers with their retail games). I might get around to buying something off of Origin to see how games and the chat integrate, or maybe I'll just end up buying the retail version of the game. Either way, so far not a fan.

The store layout looks like the mutated baby of Steam and the EA Store. The offers of Games Under $5 and $10 that Steam offers, EA copied over... just upped the prices to $10 and $20 on Origin. EA also has a section for EA game points, for things to use such as the Bioware Store. Nothing much to it... you just have to buy them.

Anyway, the content available now is rather small and exclusively EA. All the pricings are the same as the offers up on Steam.

The chat and profiles work quite similar to Steam. As of now, I don't see an option to voice chat just yet. I don't believe EA has integrated any achievement system of any sort into Origin just yet, but since this is just a beta, we'll see what happens.

My first impressions of Origin? The interface is decent, but EA is offering nothing new that Steam already doesn't. So far, they only offer less. With the meager pickings on the Origin catalog, and not really any perks that would draw gamers to it away from Steam, Origin's future looks grim, indeed. However, keep in mind that this is only the beta, and I may be a little too hasty in my judgment. New features with cross-platform integration will come later, although Origin is only (disappointingly) going to support iOS on mobile devices for now. No word on Android support just yet, which doesn't go over well on me since I'm an Android user.

Stay tuned for more updates! As I mentioned before, I'll try and redeem a game on Origin and see how well the chat works.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2011, 04:01:28 PM by Catherine » Logged
Killjoy
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« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2011, 12:14:15 AM »

Holy shit thats very well said and a very strong opinion about it. I agree with just about everything you said.

I agree a cross-platform for mobile devices and your gaming platform you use is a much needed thing. If EA is first to score on this they could put them in the game with going head to head with steam.

However i wont use this service Steam is my home and always will be Smiley So ill leave it to you to keep up informed!
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« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2011, 01:08:41 AM »

Its just another hype being created by EA, here's an opinion for EA.

@EA: OYE, Knuckle Heads, first fix EADM, then think about starting a new D2D service.

There are several Digital distribution services that come to mind, if you think hard and long you will see that none of these "providers" are part of the PC Gaming alliance. The alliance was first formed in 2008 GDC, back then, almost every developer/hardware manufacturer/Publisher, but then the big dogs started backing out one at a time and went it alone.

The fact of the matter is that PC gaming is evolving into a digital service, less and less DVDs are being manufactured and there are more sales through digital distribution then there is in DVD sales these days. Why do you think there are more and more titles being sold on Steam? Ever wondered why almost every new title is on sale on Steam?? Food for thought.

Publishers have discovered that the digital service market is an untapped resource, Steam knew this the first time they released the Steam Beta for the public, why do you think Steam is what it is today? Some business have a 5yr plan, some have a 10yr plan, Valve had a 50yr plan on what will happen and what is needed to stay afloat the flood that will soon come and the have a big ass boat, way bigger than any of these AAA publishers/developers can ever market.

Read this article on Kotaku last night and was hoping someone would start a thread so that I can type in my views. Bottom line, many will come and go and it will be really hard to beat Steam, because Valve has been at this type of service way before any of the other clowns were. I will stick to Steam and will wait out the flood. Their boat is bigger and they have Cake.
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Catherine
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« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2011, 04:03:28 AM »

Very true, although Amazon's getting a big share of the digital download market now with its ability to match or even outdo some Steam prices.
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« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2011, 04:27:20 AM »

Very true, although Amazon's getting a big share of the digital download market now with its ability to match or even outdo some Steam prices.

Its not just about the prices Catherine but it also boils down to the kind of service that the Digital Distributor provide, lets assume that I bought a game from Amazon or any other third party digital service, I will have to do a manual update of the game in most cases, sometimes even EADM refuses to update a game, they did it with the last two map packs with BC2, I had to manually download and install the two updates from Game Arena.

On the other hand, Steam updates itself and its games automatically, heck it even updates my HD 6770 GPUC, saves me the aggravation of finding latest patches, downloading them and installing them. Tell another D2D service to match that.


P.S: Steam does not update NVIDIA drivers, it only updates ATI cards for some reason. Don't as me why, ask Valve, they built the darn thing after all.
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« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2011, 07:42:55 AM »

I don't really agree with you, I want retail. Steam is good when I want a game fast or just a smaller game. And the prizes suck on steam (for us here, you have a lot cheaper on steam then we do), we can find most games WAY WAY WAY cheaper as retail here. Reason to it being cheaper there is because they use 1 usd - 1 eur, that makes every game on steam more expensive for us :/.
Still tho, Steam will beat origin.
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« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2011, 02:47:48 PM »

I love Steam and in my opinion EA IS falling at a really high speed and losing its part in the market, I give EA 4 more years until they just control like 10% of the market. People won't stop using Steam so soon, Steam is quite good, stable, gives chat options and is simple to use (not considering the price of things and the incredible amount of promotions).
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« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2011, 02:51:37 PM »

STEAM 4 the win!
good sales, easy chat, updates all the time, has anti cheat, and much more.
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« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2011, 03:24:19 PM »

Oh, EA, seriously? You're going to try and openly compete with the biggest bad boy in digital distribution? Stardock tried it with Impulse, and it worked okay for them, but Steam still has the lion's share of D2D market. The only other program like Steam I have is Desura, ModDB's crack at it. And Desura works alongside Steam - any HL2 mods you install through Desura show up in your Steam game list.

Long story short, I'm sticking with VALVe and Steam - EA is going to dive into this ocean, and either drown or get eaten by the sharks.
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Catherine
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« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2011, 03:43:47 PM »

Update: Posted my first impressions up above. Tried out Origin, and so far it's been a very "ehhhh" experience.
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« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2011, 05:01:30 PM »

Competition I welcome. Forces steam to stay good.
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« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2011, 01:35:16 AM »

I don't really agree with you, I want retail. Steam is good when I want a game fast or just a smaller game. And the prizes suck on steam (for us here, you have a lot cheaper on steam then we do), we can find most games WAY WAY WAY cheaper as retail here. Reason to it being cheaper there is because they use 1 usd - 1 eur, that makes every game on steam more expensive for us :/.
Still tho, Steam will beat origin.

I agree with you on the cheaper part mate, but you have to also consider the Steam sales, those prices are much cheaper then they are in Retail. Think about it, Medal of Honor: Airborne was for $2.50 on sale, converted that into my currency, the price was a quarter, literally a quarter of the retail copy price, so I bought it on the sale.

The cheaper point you made is valid for new releases, but gradually the price of a digital copy will go down, sure the same happens with the retail copy, but the digital will be a bit more cheaper, because its a digital copy, you don't get anything hard with it, just a digital copy, a 6-7GB download and another game on Steam.

That and EA can kiss my ass.



« Last Edit: June 04, 2011, 01:42:16 AM by K1eaner » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: June 04, 2011, 09:06:45 AM »

I guess we can all say that Ea's Origin will never be as good as Steam. :3
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