Valve Responds To EA’s Steam Dis, Wins Argument

Last month, David DeMartini, the man charged with running EA’s Steam competitor Origin, had some rather intemperate things to say about his rival’s business. Blasting Steam’s frequent, and awesome, discounts, DeMartini said “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.” He also compared Valve to a Big Box store, adding “We’re not trying to be Target. We’re trying to be Nordstrom.” OHBURN.

Valve has finally chosen to respond to DeMartini’s comments, and they all but demolish EA’s arguments. “Ask our partners,” Valve business development chief Jason Holtman said today at the Develop conference. “Ask the large to the small and see what they think about that. Putting it all in the bucket of, it’s all about the discounts, I don’t think that’s everything about it.”

Holtman defended Valve’s often cut-rate Steam deals, saying that “discounts serve a lot of functions. Highlighting serves a lot of functions. The qualities of the games serve a lot of functions. Everything we’ve seen, PC games and IP and all those franchises are more valuable today than they were four or five years ago.” Burn. But he continued, saying that “If this were all about a cheapening and somehow lessening the money out there or somehow customers don’t want to pay any more, they think everything should be like a used car lot – sticker price is not the real price – you’d feel that and you’d get real reinforcement of that. We don’t see any of that. We see people buying a lot and enjoying it and playing a lot.”

Holtman also pointed out the obvious: Valve puts their money where their mouth is, discounting their own games as often as other companies’ product. “We do it with our own games” he said. “If we thought having a 75 per cent sale on Portal 2 would cheapen Portal 2, we wouldn’t do it. We know there are all kinds of ways customers consume things, get value, come back, build franchises. We think lots of those things strengthen it.”

I’ll admit that I’m rather amused that EA compares Valve to Target while comparing themselves to Nordstrom. WHy not aim higher, EA? Compare yourselves to Sharper Image!

But continuing, obviously when I read EA’s original comments, I was forced to draw the cynical conclusion that EA didn’t poo-poo Valve and Steam because they’re particularly concerned with “cheapening” IP. After all, EA’s entire business is built on doing just that. No, I suspect EA wants to establish what sounds like a principled reason for not providing as good affordable and varied a service as Valve does with Steam. Perhaps they’re also hoping to create some kind of buzz among developers, convince them that Steam is ripping them off.

But before EA gives business advice to Valve, I might suggest they pay close attention to a couple of things:

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Exhibit C

Via Eurogamer

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12 Comments on Valve Responds To EA’s Steam Dis, Wins Argument


On July 11, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Amen. Also, feel free to point out all the non-75% off 75% off sales EA recently did, including a bundling of a bunch of their IP together in a 75% off deal on their Origin website. I’d dig up the recent examples from the last 1-2 months but I’m a lazy internet commenter.


On July 11, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Good article, sums it all up well I think.

EA is so desperate to get Origin to work they even gave `select´ American users a free game. This was shortly after their discounts statement, hypocrites.

Everything they do rubs people the wrong way and the executives do not seem to have a grasp on why that is. Your average gamer could give a ten point list as to why they hate EA, you want to stop winning golden poo awards, then start listening to us EA!


On July 11, 2012 at 7:56 pm

One day, maybe

One day EA will finally understand all the things they do wrong. That just so happens to ****off alot of gamers. The biggest is let your developers have the time they need to make quality games. Stop forcing this stuff out so damn fast. People don’t wish to spend their money on what ends up garbage and seemingly the non stop feels like it isn’t finished products that get cranked out. Eventually the money stops coming in as people avoid the titles with an EA logo on it somewhere. Hello EA, last I looked your stock is dropping faster than you can come up with ways to bash Steam. I think the consumer is telling you they are getting sick of your business practices.

Steam selling at discount to me gets people to try something they may otherwise have not. Sometimes they may not like it but when they do. They may look into what that developer has done before. Maybe buying it as well. More people buying something means they tell their friends. Who may also look into product and buy it. I picked up ME1 on a Steam sale dirt cheap. You know what? It got me to buy ME2 and few other titles I might have overlooked.


On July 11, 2012 at 8:19 pm

If there’s a new CEO, ending this pointless (for EA) war with Valve should be top priority. This was a war they were never going to win with Valve over Steam/Origin. Simply put, while EA had some big name games, Valve had some of the biggest PC games around, and their distribution service was a massive benefit to many consumers and developers. When EA said they were packing up, Valve simply said goodbye.

Imagine if EA made Origin a voluntary service. Think it would get anywhere? I think the first step towards ending this pointless war is making Origin voluntary (or scrapping it entirely) and compelling, make peace with Valve (and sell there again, afterall EA hopes to become an all digital company!), and hopefully begin to analyze why their IP’s are suffering, and their stock price is in the cellar.


On July 11, 2012 at 8:22 pm

And probably the easiest way to settle this:

When a game appears on Steam’s 75% off sales, ask that developer if he thinks its a bad thing. Considering many of those sales are on small-name developers desperate for exposure, older games who no longer generate revenue, etc, 99 times out of 100, they are going to love this. Which is why they keep doing it.


On July 11, 2012 at 8:44 pm

Hey EA,

You know what “cheapens” your IP’s? People not buying them. There is nothing wrong with encouraging purchases with some discounts. A lot of the people putting games on Steam are willing to sell at lower prices for the exposure. When a company is successful, it’s better to learn from them than waste your time bashing them.


On July 11, 2012 at 8:53 pm

I’m just…wow…

It’s amazing that EA is being run by these idiots. Really? Target vs. Nordstrom? So…basically what you’re saying is that you think gamers want to be charged for brand-name merchandise (because right now EA is such a well respected brand-name) and we look down on all those poor little middle-class nothings that shop at a place as “big box” and mundane as Steam!

Dude, these guys seriously need to get a clue. At what point will EA stop inserting their collective foot into their mouth, insulting their competition, and (most importantly) insulting their customers. Does he really think that we will take it well when he suggests that EA would never lower itself to giving us discounts on games? Meanwhile, my inbox has been flooded with emails begging me to come back to SWTOR, and offering me free trials.

And every time I think about it, or playing any of their other games, I come to this conclusion: EA is a poorly run company that has absolutely NO respect for their customers. Maybe most other game companies are like that, but few vocalise it as often and as clearly as EA does. And I quickly lose interest in playing whatever EA game I was considering.


On July 11, 2012 at 9:32 pm

Apt comparison to a used car lot considering EA is captained by the kinds of sleazy dirtbags that would’ve been trying to swindle you into buying painted-over jalopies at inflated prices 30 years ago. Fast forward to today and the sons of used car salesmen are trying to play the same mind games and trying to trick you into buying $70 shovelware, passing it off as AAA with a thick coat of marketing paint. Invest that marketing budget into development and let a superior product speak for itself? Nope. Once again, symptomatic of extreme short-term thinking.


On July 12, 2012 at 12:50 am

Comprehensive burn.
That stock page is a very stark portrayal of what ruining Mass Effect’s ending does to you.


On July 12, 2012 at 11:03 am

ea aint so bad, they got out battlefield 3, and so many other old games i used to love alot, activision is alot worse they keep making new games that look like the previous one, with barely nothing but new guns n maps, instead of calling it a dlc they call it a new game. what a joke


On July 12, 2012 at 1:23 pm

I am no fan of steam myself, but i utterly loath EA these days, what a vile, wretched company. I hope they go bankrupt so that the developers they have absorbed and corrupted like Bioware can get their souls back!


On July 17, 2012 at 8:36 pm

Exhibit A is the strongest point of argument, look at their drop in stocks…screw u EA, keep ur nordstrom POV, thts y i will never buy a single game again from u, tyvm valve for being dedicated to the gamer community…jeeze i wonder y steam is the most popular digital game disturbution around