Covering the gaming industry, mysteries and controversy are few and far between. There are leaks, rumors, hearsay and conjecture, but outright controversy doesn’t happen all that often. Think back to the earth-shaking news that saw the heads of Infinity Ward leave Activision entirely. That was controversy for the gaming industry.
Possible Wii HD pics in the wild? Not controversy. Interesting, but certainly not controversial.
So when something pops up like what’s been going on between EA and Valve with Battlefield 3, Origin and Steam, writers and industry readers stand up and take notice. I’m not suggesting that these companies are weaving an intricate web of lies and deceit that should rival the best daytime television currently airing, but I will state that there are conflicting industry perspectives that are getting in the way of business and consumption.
Specifically, EA is not releasing Battlefield 3 on Steam. The publisher has said that the Steam marketplace is inflexible when it comes to buying and selling content. Valve’s stance? They’re not admitting fault, necessarily, just that they aren’t attractive enough to EA right now as a distribution platform.
Readers and writers have essentially surmised one point from all of this: Valve and EA both want control over financial transactions; if Steam makes it so that only one company can house transactions, then the relationship is on hiatus.
Where the heck does Minecraft step in on this discussion?
Markus “Notch” Persson was approached at PAX Prime this past weekend and was asked why Minecraft was not available on Steam. The indie dev decided to set his proper response in writing and post it up on his blog, The Word of Notch. It was there that he explained why Minecraft isn’t on the PC‘s most popular platform.
Being on Steam limits a lot of what we’re allowed to do with the game, and how we’re allowed to talk to our users. We (probably?) wouldn’t be able to, say, sell capes or have a map market place on minecraft.net that works with steam customers in a way that keeps Valve happy. It would effectively split the Minecraft community into two parts, where only some of the players can access all of the weird content we want to add to the game.
We are talking to Valve about this, but I definitely understand their reasons for wanting to control their platform. There’s a certain inherent incompatibility between what we want to do and what they want to do.
Steam limits the way game makers interact with their user-base. For Minecraft, it makes complete sense that Mojang would want to have their hands on their product and their users throughout the entire process. It’s in beta, releases are inconsistently timed and sized, the content is all free after “pre-order,” etc. The relationship simply wouldn’t make sense.
But in all of his complimenting of Steam, and the slight against Steam’s competition at the end of his post, Notch honestly indicates why Steam may not be for everyone… that includes EA.
This shouldn’t put Valve in a bad light, and it certainly shouldn’t put EA in one either. It serves to demonstrate that, beyond the controversy, some relationships simply don’t work.
Minecraft could be on Steam someday. And, guess what, the same can be said for Battlefield 3.
[via The Word of Notch]