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The Popularity of Steam and How EA Navigated It

Steam is one of the long-running video game digital distribution platforms for computer gamers. It had a massive catalog of 30,000 games in 2019, from big names in the industry to indie developers sharing their passion projects. The website’s popularity can be attributed to its regular sales (dropping prices for almost 85% of a game’s retail price tag), community-friendly features, and strong support for game and software developers.

Competitors try to challenge Steam

Other digital storefronts like GOG and Epic Games have been trying to take a piece of Steam’s monopoly but faced slow progress. Electronic Arts (EA), the second-largest gaming company in America and Europe, even created a distribution platform called Origin to host their own games, pulling out past titles and never placing future games on the Steam store.

People, however, just aren’t willing to abandon their massive game libraries and friends lists to transfer to another platform. It’s like being asked to switch residential electricians when your current one has already established rapport and expertise through their consistent and professional service. Competitors, if they have the hopes of beating Steam, should offer more appealing incentives for people to jump ship or at least consider trying out their platforms.

EA’s move

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The promotion of Origin became EA’s priority, introducing features that could benefit gamers instead of acting as an added middleman for driving transactions to their company. The forced use of the Origin client to play EA games has drawn flak and criticism from gamers. People weren’t hopeful about EA changing their minds about Steam. The company seemed stubborn in their position. That is until now.

EA finally brought back their games on Steam, along with newer ones like action role-playing Dragon Age Inquisition and action-adventure platformer Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst. The first wave had 25+ EA games coming to the platform, with more to come as promised by the publisher. As of now, many of those titles are on Steam’s top seller list. Some of those games have been released more than a year in the past. It goes to show EA’s strength in storytelling and gameplay.

Steam’s vast user base

Steam continues to grow its reach and popularity, especially at a time when people are forced to stay at home due to the pandemic. It achieved a record in March of 20 million users online at once, with 6.4 million actively playing a game. There weren’t even any high-profile releases, which are known to increase site traffic.

EA needed that broad user base of computer gamers to increase the reach of the upcoming launch of their subscription service, EA Access. Subscribers can gain access to a wide collection of games, with pre-release sneak peeks of future titles and exclusive discounts. PC users will finally join the club as EA Access has already been available on consoles PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Steam has been synonymous with PC gaming for a long time, and they won’t be giving up their crown anytime soon. Game publishers like EA are wise to make use of Steam’s strengths to promote their games.

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