Phil vs. Phil: Is It Crazy to Skip Crysis 3 Because of Origin?
Hornshaw: Okay, but I think it’s fundamentally false to consider Steam and Origin on equal footing. Steam has a singular benefit of being a heavily populated, heavily used platform, and Crysis 3 has a big multiplayer component. Players are invested in Steam — they have lots of games, friends, achievements; an online persona. The trouble with switching to Origin is that Origin is like starting over your gaming life from zero. You have no friends, no achievements, no relationships.
And I really think there’s a PR battle here that EA needs to wage and win in order for Origin to be successful beyond anything other than the basest “you must use this or you can’t play” level. Not only does EA want gamers to switch to Origin only for EA games (and maybe a handful of other third-party titles), they want to do it for no other reason than because it’s to EA’s benefit. Do you get anything for using Origin? Are the prices better? Is the user experience better? In all cases, no: Origin is either equal to, or sometimes worse than, existing platforms. I don’t want to be some Steam evangelist, definitely, but at the same time, what does Origin have to offer? The publisher is corralling us into a different pen, and it’s doing it with a cattle prod. And that kinda sucks.
Owen: The reason Origin doesn’t have a big community is because folks don’t ever say to their friends, “Hey, we all like Crysis, right? Let’s all get it on Origin, since we can’t here, and play together over there and be Origin friends and all that!” EA can’t conjure up a community. If you don’t have Origin friends to play Crysis 3 with even though you have plenty of Steam friends to play Crysis 2 with, it’s because you didn’t apply enough peer pressure.
Nobody is ever going to say that Origin is better than Steam, but I can hardly blame EA for not wanting to give a significant cut of every game sold to Valve. They are, after all, running a business. They’ve seen that digital distribution can be quite profitable for the platform holder, and they’ve got this insane idea in their head that people will use a platform if it is the only place to get certain major games that there are audiences for. They just didn’t count on some PC gamers being so unreasonable as to try to avoid a new, free platform simply because it isn’t the one they already use most of the time.
Hornshaw: As far as the “EA is running a business” argument, what does that have to do with me? Why am I supposed to jump ship on the digital foundation I’ve built over at Steam, because EA is too cheap to pay whatever slice Valve wants it to pay? That has nothing to do with me, and if you want to talk about the business EA is running, I’d say that it’s on EA to provide a better experience for players. It needs to outcompete Valve in some way to justify Origin.
What it boils down to for me is that EA wants its money, and rather than put together a better product in Origin, it figures it’ll just force us to use Origin by taking away game availability. EA shouldn’t be surprised if players look at this offer and see it for exactly what it is — all pain in the ass, no gain whatsoever. For my part, Crysis 3 is not so enticing as to play EA’s game. Other titles, like Dead Space 3, are. And when they come up, maybe I’ll jump ship. But if EA thinks I’m going to turn to Origin as my standard gaming platform right now, the company is delusional. It offers nothing but hassle, and its games aren’t so incredible as to justify that hassle. So until EA comes up with a better way to sell Origin, it should expect people to go, “Screw you.” It’s another example of EA pushing gamers so it can make more money without offering anything more in terms of experience, because EA thinks gamers will take it.
What sucks about the whole situation is that EA is probably going to interpret players saying “I don’t want to use Origin because it offers me nothing and can be actively irritating,” as meaning “PC games are a waste of money.” Totally not the case. It’s just that EA hasn’t offered anything in terms of meaningful competition to the much-better-established Steam.