EA Origin

I recently downloaded EA's Origin client and took it for a brief spin. Let's see if EA can continue to recover from being the big bad boss of the games industry; a title which, in my opinion, now belongs to Acti-Blizza-Vision.

Nice touch using my existing EA account for Origin; the fewer registrations, the better.

The thing that brought me there was that they were offering to freely register any "recent" EA game on Origin for free, no matter where you bought it, so long as you had the key. So I copied my Mass Effect 2 key over from Steam, went in without a problem.

Unfortunately, this offer only goes back to games released in and after 2009 or so, so no Mass Effect (1). Real success for Origin (or any other download service) lies in older and third-party content. Valve alone did not make Steam what it is today; neither did Apple make what the iTunes store is all by themselves.

However, since I had ME2 installed from Steam, Origin considered it installed, too. When I launched it, I had both Origin's and Steam's in-game overlays available. Uh, no. So I deleted it from Steam, and had Origin download it. When run, no Steam. I backed it up from Origin's install directory, then removed it, and restored my Steam backup.

I started to poke around a little more, and found people pointing out that the EULA allows EA to delete your games from your account if you haven't logged in for 2 years. I grabbed the EULA off of EA.com, and sifted through the legalese. They must have updated it or something, because the section referred to was something else, and I found nothing similar. This seems like a dickish move that EA would pull, given the restrictions on EA's previous download service (could only download three times, and only within 6 months of purchase, if I remember), but hopefully they've learned.

Then there's the whole thing about EA's games disappearing from Steam, the 800 pound gorilla of digital distribution services.

First, Crysis 2 was taken down. An official response from EA was that Crytek (Crysis 2 developers) had signed some deal with another service that violated Valve's terms of service with Crytek. I wonder which one that would be, since several games are on many platforms, and this is the first time I've heard this one. Besides, aren't EA the distributor and publisher for Crytek? Shouldn't EA handle such a deal?

Then there's the whole deal about Battlefield 3 not being on Steam. Frankly, I don't care about either it or Modern Warfare (any of them). If EA wants to keep the collector's edition of games on Origin, fine. But at least have the standard and not crippled in any way version everywhere else. At this rate, I may not be able to get Mass Effect 3 (I have the other 2 on Steam, I want the complete set there, too).

And just hours ago, Dragon Age 2 disappeared. It is suspected that Valve took it down because of some in-game DLC store. Well, excuse them! Valve, didn't you just put several free-to-play MMOs on Steam recently? Do those have in-game stores? And lets not forget your own Team Fortress 2 and Portal 2 with their own in-game stores.

Fortunately, Valve seems OK with other games directing to publisher's sites to buy points to redeem for DLC... for now (Fallout 3 and other Games for Windows games, Mass Effect 2, and Dragon Age).

Don't get me wrong: I like Steam. I don't swear by it, but it is a fantastic thing that has driven PC gaming forward for many years. Valve deserves all the fame, money, and praise that it has gotten for Steam. But competition is always good.

Through all of this, only EA has been talking; not a word from Valve. Either EA are being dicks about "oooh, we have our own store now!," or Valve have really gone over the edge. As it stands, EA is being a bit of a dick, but Valve might turn out to be the worst. If what EA says is all true, (I hate to say it, but) has Valve violated anti-trust laws?

Posted under Gaming.

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