EA COO Peter Moore has insisted there is no feud between his company and Half-Life maker Valve despite the removal of EA games from rival digital platform Steam.
Soon after the launch of Origin in June 2011 EA games disappeared from Steam. At the time, EA said this was the result of Steam blocking EA from interacting directly with their customers, and there seemed little room for compromise.
And in April this year Valve boss Gabe Newell said Origin still had a long way to go before it could boast that it properly satisfied its customers. "They have a bunch of smart people working on it but I think they're still playing catch up to a lot of people who have been working in the space for a while," he said. "I think they're recognising what the challenges are with building and scaling out this kind of system."
"There's no feud," Moore told Eurogamer in an interview at Gamescom this week. "Remember, we're the guys who published Left 4 Dead and Portal 2. It's Valve. Gabe's a great friend of EA's. We're a great friend of his, we like to think.
"They have different terms and conditions that they put on their games that don't meet what we would like to do with our gamers. They insist on being a layer between the game developer and publisher and the consumer. They take a piece of the revenue stream. And they don't allow us to go directly to the consumer to do patches and updates. So we just agree to disagree. It's not a feud. They have their terms and conditions. We do. They don't meet. So we go do what we do, and they're doing very well at doing what they do."
When quizzed about the lack of EA games on Steam in April Newell said: "We'd love to have their games on Steam. We think their customers would be happy if their games were on Steam. We tell them that on a regular basis."
While the chances of this seem low, Moore indicated that EA games could return to Valve's platform - but only if Valve relaxes its rules. "We're very clear on what we want to do to be able to put a game on a platform and interact with the gamer," Moore said. "The current terms and conditions of Steam don't allow that. If they change to meet the contract with the gamer we set out to do, then of course things might change. But until then, nothing's going to change."
EA's David DeMartini, who heads up the Origin business for EA, said recently that it would not copy Steam's popular deep discounting, that is, it would not run 75 per cent off sales of games after release, because it "cheapens intellectual property".
Moore said the price of games on Origin is often set by the publisher, and to a large degree leaves sales up to them. "I can't speak about what Steam needs to do to drive their business. That's their business and they do it very well," he said. "From Origin's point of view, we look at what we feel is the correct price for a piece of content. That pricing is often set by the developer and publisher. Not us. There are terms and conditions they want to meet and then that's their business."
Despite the current disagreement with Valve over Steam, Moore said EA would be open to publishing Valve games again in the future.
"We've always enjoyed that publishing relationship. And it is my team that does it. But there are no conversations going on right now. I don't know what their plans are right now. So, of course, we've had a great relationship from the publishing end, and I'd like to think they've enjoyed us publishing their content. I certainly think we've done a good job."
Origin is becoming an increasingly important part of EA's business, and has enjoyed the launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic, Mass Effect 3 and Battlefield 3 with exclusive content. And during EA's Gamescom press conference earlier this week Moore announced plans to bring Origin to Mac, Android, Facebook and SmartTVs.
Moore's goal is for Origin to become "even stickier" for gamers as it evolves over the coming year.
"We need to continue to add more value to the Origin consumer," he said. "We talked on stage about the features we'll add. That was a roadmap for the next six to nine months. I use Origin everyday, and more and more, as the teams update and update, I find it more and more useful for me to find my friends, find the games I'm playing, navigation is getting better, my achievements. So it's becoming even stickier, to use an old web term.
"That's our goal. We've got to make this the place you want to go to to play your games, find your friends, buy your games, interact with the games themselves. We're building community layers in there each and every month as it develops. You'll see updates all the time. It's got to enhance your gaming experience in simple terms. That's our job, to be able to do that."