EA clarifies, confuses stance on platform exclusives

Crysis 2 mysteriously disappeared from Steam a few weeks ago. EA was suspected to be behind the move, but it turns out that Valve was the one that pulled the plug. Why? According to David DeMartini, the head of EA's new Origin download service, Valve axed Crysis 2 because it wasn't permitted to distribute the game's DLC on Steam. That DLC is available through competing service Direct2Drive, however.

DeMartini's revelation comes in an interview with Gamasutra, and it's immediately followed by the seemingly contradictory assertion that EA believes in "absolute freedom of choice to allow customers to buy through whatever retail outlet." DeMartini even goes on to say that "if your preferred retailer is Best Buy or Direct2Drive or Impulse or Steam or Amazon... we're going to make our product available to you." Apparently, that policy doesn't apply to Crysis 2 DLC. EA Games president Frank Gibeau is also on the record as saying that the company will "use exclusive content" to drive gamers to its Origin download service.

In an official blog post on the subject, DeMartini clarifies that EA content will be available from a range of services "except under extremely special circumstances." The specifics of those circumstances aren't detailed, but they apparently apply to both the Crysis 2 DLC and Star Wars: The Old Republic. The new Star Wars MMO will be available exclusively through Origin.

This looks to me like a pretty clear-cut case of EA wanting to have its cake and eat it too. You can't claim to want content to be available on all platforms while reserving the right to sign exclusive deals for what appear to be not-so-special circumstances—at least not with a straight face. We've asked Valve for its take on the situation but have yet to hear back. (Thanks to Joystiq for the tip.)

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