While Origin isn’t exactly the most popular gaming platform in the world, Valve head Gabe Newell feels like it could be improved in a meaningful way. In a recent interview with Seven Day Cooldown, Newell offered some constructive criticism as to what EA could do to improve Origin so that it could be seen as a useful tool for both consumers and developers alike.
Newell’s first criticism of Orgin was that they aren’t offering anything unique and that they aren’t currently where they should be in terms of quality.
They have a lot of work to do to get to where they need to be and where I as a customer would want them to be. I don’t think they’re doing anything super-well yet. 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. I think they’re recognising what the challenges are with building and scaling out this kind of system. That’s not to say they won’t build stuff in the future that is useful to software developers or to gamers but they haven’t done that yet.
It just wouldn’t be an article about Steam and Origin without remarking about EA/Valve games being on each platform. Newell is still persistent about wanting EA games on Steam and, even if that never happens, welcomes some healthy competition.
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. I think EA wants to take their shot at building their own alternative to Steam, and if they’re successful at that and their customers like that then that’s great.
Newell finally added that EA needs to recognize what the consumers want and not just worry about flat sales.
[EA needs to recognize] whatever they’re trying to do to create value for their customers is not a zero sum game. As we learn about this stuff we’re all going to be making things better for other gamers. [Epic Games boss] Tim Sweeney doesn’t look at Steam and say ‘F***, we shouldn’t support that because that will hurt long term sales of the Unreal Engine’. He’s like, “that’s pretty cool, that’s pretty useful”. So hopefully EA gets their head to the same place.
While I do feel the hate for Origin is overly dramatized, just look at Steam’s reception when it first launched in 2004, I have to agree with a lot of Gabe’s points. Healthy competition is never a bad thing for consumers, but EA just needs to work their way up to being a worthy competitor. As of now, I feel Origin is too focused on promoting their own games rather than creating a good digital distribution service. Once they get past that obstacle, I can see Origin becoming a great service in the near future.