Just over a month ago, EA announced it’s new digital retail and social networking platform, Origin. Within weeks the company made it clear that they weren’t just just casually throwing their hat in the digital distribution ring – they intend to aggressively support Origin by offering enough exclusives to tempt gamers away from rival platform, Steam.
As a result, it’s not surprising to hear that EA could be snubbing Valve’s Steam service, to bolster their own Origin offering, by withholding their highly-anticipated first-person shooter, Battlefield 3.
Hot on the heels of news that EA would only be offering the Mass Effect 3 PC Deluxe Edition exclusively through Origin, Joystiq stumbled upon the interesting omission of Steam on the list of “Battlefield 3 Digital Retailers.” The page has since been pulled, indicating that Steam’s absence was either an oversight – or the publisher realized the omission was quickly creating anti-Steam speculation.
However, despite the current error 404 redirect, the Steam-less list is already out of the bag – as evidenced by the image below (courtesy of Planet Battlefield):
Anyone who intends to purchase Battlefield 3 in North America, assuming the Steam omission isn’t an oversight, will have seven choices:
- Origin (no doubt EA’s retailer of choice)
- Best Buy
There’s no doubt the absence of Steam makes complete sense. While the other retailers listed are certainly EA competition in the digital space, given the company’s ambitious plans for Origin, Steam is the most formidable – and most closely related to the kind of experience that EA would like to offer. While they’ll certainly lose some potential Origin customers to the other online distributors, there’s no doubt that skipping Steam will draw loads of new members to EA’s in-house service. In addition, Steam no-doubt takes a cut of every game sold through their digital service – which means a lot of lost revenue that EA could have collected 1:1 with consumers through Origin.
On the flip side, there’s also room to believe that the absence of Steam was simply an omission – but only because of the momentum behind Battlefield 3 in the 2011 holiday FPS “battle” against Modern Warfare 3. Many industry veterans and hardcore gamers are in Battlefield‘s corner and locking-down distribution options could stifle some of the positive buzz around the title – only because some fans will inevitably be angry that they won’t be able to utilize Steam functionality with the game.
In the end, whether or not the rumor is true at this point comes down to one basic question: What’s more important to EA right now: using every resource imaginable to take-on Call of Duty or using a high-profile title to bolster their own digital distribution platform?
While throwing Battlefield 3 out to users through all available digital distributors could add a bit more coin to EA’s pocket in the short-term, establishing Origin early-on as a formidable alternative to Steam will will pay-off hugely down the road (not to mention all the coin the company will make – since Steam won’t be taking their middle-man cut).
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick and let us know what you think of the Steam-less retailer list. Is it an intentional snub by EA or an honest omission?
Battlefield 3 releases October 25, 2011 for the PS3, Xbox 360, and PC.