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EA Origin executive thinks service will be better than Steam, compares it to Facebook

by William Schwartz

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EA’s senior VP of global e-commerce David DeMartini wants you to imagine how crappy your digital life and social networking would be if you had stuck with MySpace instead of deciding to give Facebook a try.

“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,” he said in a recent interview with MCV.

DeMartini stated his belief that, like Facebook, the best innovations arise from already existing inventions and technology – a trend he and his company hopes to continue in their quest to build the best digital content delivery system on the market.

“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,” he said. “And that’s what we’re attempting to do on Origin.”

The VP also responded to Valve head-honcho Gabe Newell and his criticism that his competitor’s service does not do anything well enough to compete with popular digital distribution service, Steam:

“Gabe was quick to point out in the first time he ever spoke about Origin publicly that he didn’t think we’d achieved that yet. I would agree with that – we’re on a path of constant improvement. I didn’t expect to be able to out-feature Steam within the first 12 months. But I’m quite optimistic we will differentiate ourselves as a service. We’ve built the foundation and now we are starting to add value to the service off of that foundation.”

DeMartini continued by pointing to Origin’s user numbers:

“If 12 months ago you would tell me we’d be in the conversation, I would have been pretty happy. And when you look at the fact that over 12 months people have downloaded Origin, we have over 50 partners that have flocked to the service in less than 12 months, and we did over $150m in revenue, which represented 400 per cent growth over the previous year – those numbers show we are making huge progress.”

Cynics of Origin would argue that those numbers are heavily inflated due to their exclusive ownership of the digital distribution rights of such AAA blockbusters like Battlefield 3, Mass Effect 3, and Star Wars: The Old Republic. DeMartini however, is of the opinion that Origin will strive because of EA’s dedication to “high quality” products and services:

“EA is in a really interesting place. We have this bar that is set so high, so that whether it is any of our games or services, we want to be 90 plus Metacritic at everything.”

If the media did in fact have the opportunity to review Origin as a product and it were subsequently assigned an aggregate Metacritic score, it’s difficult to imagine it getting anywhere near a “90” which would conclude that the consensus was “universal acclaim.” With criticisms ranging from a Terms of Service agreement which allows EA to suspend or terminate a user’s account for even minor infractions without any warning, to an End-user license agreement giving EA the ability to monitor user activity regardless of its relation to the Origin service, to requiring users to waive their right to sue EA or file class-action lawsuits against them, it would appear that a “generally unfavorable” consensus would be more accurate. But hey, a multi-billion dollar mega-corporation can dream, can’t they?

 

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