Over the past month or two, a rift has opened between Valve and frequent publishing partner Electronic Arts over the former's online distribution portal, Steam. The dispute has led to EA pulling Crysis 2 and Dragon Age II from the Steam storefront, and the publisher has also indicated that this fall's blockbuster Battlefield 3 will skip the service as well.
For his part, Valve cofounder and managing director Gabe Newell hopes to bring EA back into the fold. Speaking to Develop, Newell said EA's problems with Steam involve "a whole complicated set of issues," but he believes the companies can resolve their differences. Newell also said that it is up to Valve to prove to EA that it is worth selling its games through Steam.
"I don’t think Valve can pick just one thing and think the issue would go away if we fixed that," Newell told Develop. "We have to show EA it's a smart decision to have EA games on Steam, and we're going to try to show them that."
"I think at the end of the day we're going to prove to Electronic Arts they have happier customers, a higher quality service, and will make more money if they have their titles on Steam," he continued. "It's our duty to demonstrate that to them. We don't have a natural right to publish their games…We really want to show there's a lot of value having EA titles on Steam. We want EA's games on Steam and we have to show them that's a smart thing to do."
According to statements made by EA, the issue appears to revolve around Valve's approach to postrelease content. When the publisher pulled Crysis 2 from Steam in July, EA's head of global e-commerce, David DeMartini, said, "We take direct responsibility for providing patches, updates, additional content, and other services to our players" and so insist on being allowed to "establish an ongoing relationship" with customers and contact them to inform them of new patches and available content.
"Unfortunately, if we're not allowed to manage this experience directly and establish a relationship with you, it disrupts our ability to provide the support you expect and deserve," DeMartini said. "At present, there is only one download service that will not allow this relationship. This is not our choice, and unfortunately it is their customer base that is most impacted by this decision. We are working diligently to find a mutually agreeable solution."