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Published on June 8th, 2012 | by Jonathan Beck


EA Criticizes Valve for Steam’s Deep Discounting

Gamebiz recently held a discussion with David DeMartini (pictured above hard at work on Origin) regarding EA’s Origin service and its future plans. To be honest, most of the interview isn’t that interesting, save for one small section talking about Steam’s practice of offering frequent heavy discounts on games.

Q: One of the things that Steam does is this random deep-discounting of software, and it works well for them. Do you see that as something you want to do?

David DeMartini: We won’t be doing that. Obviously they think it’s the right thing to do after a certain amount of time. I just think it cheapens your intellectual property. I know both sides of it, I understand it. If you want to sell a whole bunch of units, that is certainly a way to do that, to sell a whole bunch of stuff at a low price. The gamemakers work incredibly hard to make this intellectual property, and we’re not trying to be Target. We’re trying to be Nordstrom. When I say that, I mean good value – we’re trying to give you a fair price point, and occasionally there will be things that are on sale you could look for a discount, just don’t look for 75 percent off going-out-of-business sales.

It’s an interesting viewpoint, if you happen to look at life out of your own rectum. Let’s break it down, shall we? First, Mr. DeMartini specifically points out that Valve does this after a certain period of time. Take a look at current sales; the only title currently available at 75% off is the Far Cry complete pack. We’re obviously not in the holiday season, during which Valve goes into all-out sale mode, but even then, the deepest discounts are on older titles or entire publisher collections. Some newer titles are also discounted during these sales, but they’re normally games from smaller companies that want the increased exposure that comes from those discounts.

DeMartini then points to game makers working incredibly hard on their titles, something he would likely know a good deal about being an EA employee. Considering that it’s been very, very welldocumented that EA has had some rather brutal working conditions for their developers, it’s surprising that he shows any concern for them whatsoever. Counter that with the working conditions at Valve or their recently leaked new employee handbook and it becomes even harder to feel like DeMartini is using that as little more than a bullet point in his argument with no real concern.

Finally, he slams Steam, comparing it to Target, whereas EA wants Origin to be considered a Nordstrom. Let’s look into that a bit as well. Imagine you want to buy a pair of simple slip-on loafers, a pair of shoes just to kick on and off at a moment’s notice. You could pop over to Target and pick up a nice pair of Meronas for 29 bucks. They would get the job done comfortably, and you would probably be happy with such a reasonable purchase. You could also go to Nordstorm and get these Cole Haan gray slip-ons for 138 dollars. Personally, I’d rather have four pairs of Meronas.

Now imagine you have $60 to spend on video games this month. You can go to Origin and get a brand-spanking new copy of Battlefield 3 for $59.99, or you can head over to Steam and likely end up with anywhere from 1 to 10 different games, depending on their sales at the time. You might want Battlefield 3, and if you do, great–you have the option to just buy that one title and play that–but personally, I’d rather pick up 3-4 great games on Steam instead.

The core problem that people like DeMartini seem to be overlooking in the game industry is that not every title is worth $59.99. Most games aren’t worth that cost, and saying that selling games at a lower price cheapens their intellectual property is just insulting. Some of the best games on PC right now cost you nothing to get into. Games like Blacklight: Retribution and Tribes: Ascend are fantastic experiences that allow you to pay as little or as much as you want. Not to mention Steam’s regularity of sales gives gamers the option to try titles that were previously out of their financial reach. When game companies start to realize that you can sell more games when they aren’t all priced exactly the same, they (and we) will be much better off.

In the end, if EA doesn’t want to offer deep discounts on titles that their Origin service carries, that’s perfectly fine. Origin is their service, and that’s their decision to make. However, when you start attacking a company that actually seems to care about the people who play their games, I have an issue with it. Let Valve run their company the way they see fit, and I’m sure they’ll extend you that same courtesy. In the meantime, how’s that stock price doing, Dave?

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29 Responses to EA Criticizes Valve for Steam’s Deep Discounting

  1. JUDE-JITSU says:

    The really gross thing is that BF3 has been 50% off many times before, Which Dan mentioned in the podcast. Also, steam is more like a co-op than target, because it has good community features and workshops that support modding.

    Steam is the gamers co-op with nice the friendly manager valve. Origin is the big business with bad labor practices and big mark-up on broken stuff. Steam would win simply because it opens and runs 100% of the time unlike origin.

  2. Wheelzz says:

    Finally somebody was able to put mine and everyone else’s thoughts to paper.

    Guys a goof and just proves how bad EA is. I love how hard he is working in that picture! I now see why battlelog is such a great service!

  3. Holmesl92 says:

    I’m pretty frickin happy that they have made this statement, because it’s so obviously ridiculous, and hopefully their stock value will continue to plummet, due to their apparently horrific philosophy. Perhaps when the stocks are completely worthless they will realise they’re being arseholes.

  4. Timicore says:

    These things really rustle my jimmies.

  5. Boocakeh says:

    oh EA, there will be a time even investors don’t take you seriously anymore

  6. Mr.Grimm says:

    “just don’t look for 75 percent off going-out-of-business sales.”
    Implying valve is going out of business ha.

  7. Splozy says:

    I don’t care what EA say anymore. They made their malicious business practices very clear after killing off so many studios. Infact Origin isn’t even a bad platform like everyone makes out, it’s just battlelog that’s terribad. EA are late to the party and Valve already has a monopoly on digital distribution, I support free trade anyway. Steam started the same way Origin started; Distributing in-house games. EA can’t expect anyone to choose them over Valve if they can’t see the long term advantage of destroyer pricing. Valve aren’t exactly trying to undercut anyone else anyway because they’re unopposed. Valve knows that putting a dead game on sale will breathe life into it and expand the lifespan of it. If they don’t get a profit from the sale they get a profit in the long term from people coming back…Gabe already stated his reasons and philosphies for Valves practices in several interviews.

  8. Akaitenshi says:

    The only reason I have origin is because of bf3, which I don’t play often either, I would uninstall that shit if I could anytime. Also.. Target – Nordstrom wtf? yh you pay more at nordstrom, but there isn’t a fucking difference in what you get IRL cause they both sell games… those are the same..

  9. macdonsr says:

    Origin sucks, and is getting crushed by Steam, it is all EA has left to try to bash them over silly reasons, they don’t compete in price, variety or stability, and Origin doesn’t have the fan support for sure.

    Steam/Valve has earned their reputation as a company that actually cares about it’s target audience and has shown this time and time again, not only with title sales but in interviews, changes to their own titles, and actually listening to the community and encouraging constructive feedback by responding to it.

    EA is just pissed cause they couldn’t throw wads of cash at the problem and win like they have every other time, so they are resorting to name calling on the school yard.

  10. Disconsented says:

    It just looks like they are getting pissed because Valve is setting a precedent for Cheap AAA games, they will eventually have to change to remain competitive.

  11. boston_rob says:

    I see the point which this guy is trying to make. Developers make games that they think are worth 60 dollars. Even when the game is just released, the value of that property is already diminished because of the possibility of a future steam sale. Therefore, a brand new game is never actually worth the price the publisher puts on it.

    However, in saying this, the value of a product is the price someone is willing to pay for it. If a publisher thinks a game is 60 dollars and it doesn’t sell, then clearly that game was never worth 60 dollars in the first place. If anything, a steam sale reflects the true value of what a game is worth. This guy is an idiot. His failure lies in the fact that he can’t see the value of a property is based on the actual performance of a title and not on the fact that they spent millions of hours making a shitty game that no one wants.

  12. Ruthless Badger says:

    Low prices mean bad value? Makes perfect sense. EA does make incredibly valuable games and Origin is a great service with a wide selection of great valuable games. I’m sure higher prices will benefit everybody, especially the developers.

  13. Player One says:

    what they need to release over at ea is that due to the fact you don’t have to pay manufacturing costs for the likes of discs, cases, instruction books digital distribution should generally be a cheaper option to buy games from anyway as they only have their server upkeep to pay for. Yet I have still seen retail copies of battlefield for £20 off amazon yet it’s still £40 on origin. Because that makes sense doesn’t it…

  14. SteJo says:

    There’s so much herp in this guys derp. The only reason I will buy anything off Origin is if I can’t get it on Steam and chances are most people are the same. According to this Mr Derp up there because more people are likely to buy and play a game because it’s on sale that cheapens the IP. Except more people are playing the game and if they like it are more likely to buy future games from that developer hence the devs make more money in the long run. Origin will fail at some point and it will be funny to see EA crawling back to Valve so they can try and get their games on Steam again.

  15. kjetilsen says:

    Man I hate EA almost as mutch as I hate Nick Fenton…

  16. Y2Ken says:

    Oh EA, you troublemakers you.

  17. CharlieTango says:

    What an idiotic comparison. Target vs Nordstrom quality? Is he saying there are varying qualities of software? As if higher quality bytes make up a game on origin compared to the bytes of information on steam? How does one acquire these high quality bytes? I’m assuming an African overlord enslaves a country and forces all the kids to spend days in the mines to strip the land in search of ‘higher quality bytes”. Well I for one will not support these ‘blood bytes’ that origin uses. I’d rather buy the cheaper lab-created bytes that valve makes in house.

  18. Trikay says:

    Your comparison is kinda stupid. You can either got to Origin and get 1 game or go to Steam and get 1-10? You do realize that there are more games on Orgin than Battlefield 3 right?

    I do agree that the EA guy is stupid but, it works better if you don’t try to counter with an equally stupid argument. The one about developer conditions and why the EA guy is stupid for mentioning it is quite a fantastic argument that I didn’t know about ;)

    • Vosos says:

      You have the wrong end of the stick. He is saying you could go to Origin and buy BF3 for 60 bucks or go to Steam and get 5 12 dollar games instead. There is a large variety of titles on Steam and you can get plenty of games for less than 5 dollars that you can’t play for as long but when you have 12 of them they take up your time and give a varied experience.

      • Trikay says:

        Or you can go to Origin and buy 5 $12 games or go to Steam and buy MW3 for $60

        • Vosos says:

          There are a total of 5 games for $5 on Origin as far as I could find and about 30+ dlc items displayed alongside such as BF3 weapon packs. 3 of those games were shitty sports games that are 4 years out of date. The choice of games is really limited on Origin too, hence why it is impossible to say that Steam and Origin are akin in their array of games and prices.

  19. jfkisjack says:

    And that is why the only thing I have ever bought from Origin was BF3 and that was on a 50% sale. It didn’t cheapen the experience for me I still got the same game just for a little less money.

  20. TrippingBowser says:

    Man this was a great article you were flat out ruthless but fair because they deserved it

  21. IllegalDanish says:

    EA sure don’t do themselves any favours with this kind of bullshit.
    Origin will never be a better digital sales platform than steam, i don’t even know why they continue.

  22. DiscoAutopsy says:

    How dare he discredit Target and all of its holiness. Fuck him.

  23. jackkspro says:

    EA really needs to check their hypotenuses

    • Bigmannipples says:

      They would but they are busy checking their bank accounts most of the day.


Jonathan BeckJonathan

I'll drink a beer with you at a party. I know hardware things and enjoy talking about them. I am still your new best friend and most trusted confidant.

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