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Battlefield 3 Officially Steamless?

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When Battlefield 3 drops it’s looking more and more like you won’t be able to buy it via Steam, according to a report posted at Develop.

Financial research firm Baird recently held a meeting with Gamestop’s management, and in its subsequent report says: “The upcoming EA title Battlefield 3 will be sold as a download through GameStop, but not through Steam.” Baird has since told Develop that it had heard the claim directly from Gamestop executives. EA and Valve have been approached for comment.

I’m thinking we are going to start to see more stories like this in the coming months.

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Bill Abner

Bill has been writing about games for the past 16 years for such outlets as Computer Games Magazine, GameSpy, The Escapist, GameShark, and Crispy Gamer. He will continue to do so until his wife tells him to get a real job.

31 thoughts to “Battlefield 3 Officially Steamless?”

  1. I don’t really understand the issue some people are having with this EA Origin business, and games not being on Steam now.

    I have a few games on Steam, but I don’t have a preference for it at all. I have games bought from several other services. I buy whatever game I’m looking for wherever it’s the cheapest at the time.

    The only things I can see being issues with BF3 and other EA titles not being on Steam are that Valve won’t bundle in a pre-order hat for TF2 (the horror) and BF3 has no chance of being included in one of Valves crazy sales.

    Are they really the issues, or am I missing something?

  2. Competition is a good thing. Besides, Steam does seem to be trying to monopolize. Nothing I hate more then buying a game through something other then Steam, but being forced to use Steam to play it. (I’m looking at you DoW2)

  3. So I’m guessing by “sold as a download through GameStop” they actually mean Impuse? If so, that sounds like a good idea to try to bring more attention to Impulse now that Gamestop owns it.

    Most people seem to know about Steam but very little or nothing at all about their competitors. I think it’s about time they get a bit more exposure.

  4. The issue I have with this is that as a consumer I prefer to limit my associations online and not have accounts with every single download service imaginable. Already I have a sizable Steam account (my preferred service), a couple games on Impulse, several on GoG, a couple on Gamers-gate, and I think one on D2D. The last thing I need right now is another online service.

    To the comment above about buying a game and then being forced to used Steam to play it some of the comments around Origin suggest that DLC, patching and maybe multi-player will require you to install Origin no matter who you bought the game from.

    Lastly, EA pulling the game from Steam doesn’t increase competition it decreases it. They are taking their ball and going home (I know they are sharing with other people but it’s the best analogy I got). If they really wanted to increase competition they should leave their games on Steam and then offer incentives to people who purchase them on Origin.

  5. I just think that as long as Steam is run by Valve, that’s a good thing. Valve is one of the few companies who you can’t really complain about, they’re not weird… ethically.

    I have around 98% of all my downloadable games on steam. It’s like 70+ games. I like steams DRM system, since it lets me access these games on any computer ever. I’m already used to their interface and whatever. The only other thing I’ve tried so far was amazon’s download service, which was ok: wasn’t as neatly organized but whatever.

    I think the problem with ORIGIN isn’t that it’s bad in and of itself, necessarily, it’s that I don’t want to have several DRM/game management applications running at once. I don’t want to have a bunch of different friends lists. I already have 3 (steam, xbox live, and it fucking sucks. Not a day goes by where I don’t wish these were all integrated to the same service.

    As for ORIGIN specifically… oh yay! I was really holding out to be able to buy Sims 3 for full price 2 years after release, and with ORIGIN I fucking can! Seriously this is what Origin is, a way for EA to sell their shitty old games for more money.

  6. Yeah this. People don’t realize, or don’t want to admit it, but steam is THE MARKET not just a service on the market. If you’re competing with steam, you’re competing ON steam and you’re trying to convince me to buy a shooter at 60$ when my 20$ copy of TF2 has lasted me 3 years and counting.

  7. Why wold you have an issue with having accounts on other online stores when they’ll all be downloaded to the same computer in the end? To me that’s like saying “I’ve already bought things before in Gamestop. I’m not going to Wallmart.”. The whole “I have to give them my info” is a null issue these days with disposable e-mail/credit cards/lies.

    Also, I’d class this as EA generating competition, but I don’t see their store being the competition. By allowing the smaller, less well known online services to sell their product they’ve pretty much drawn attention away from Steam and onto other services, yet not necessarily their own. Hell, I’d say this issue swings both ways. It more than likely has just as much to do with Valve and Steam as it does EA. EA are more into making as much money as possible. The EA store has been there for years and they put their games on Steam. I’m guessing both sides had a bit of a falling out more than EA just up and leaving for no reason.

  8. The analogy to brick and mortar stores doesn’t really hold up. I don’t have to sign up to shop at Walmart (although sometimes I wonder about Gamestop) but as you point out the act of signing up isn’t really the issue. The issue is the ongoing commitment and the community. Games have long since passed the days where you buy the game take it home and play it. Now updates, DLC, friends lists, online multiplayer are all essential parts of the experience. By trying to limit my purchases to one client and one community I can build a place for me and my friends to have fun playing the games that we want. Steam has done a pretty good job of enabling that. Once I buy a game on another service those tools become more difficult or impossible to use the community in which I play my games starts to fall apart.

  9. In that extent, then Steam is just as much at fault as any other service provider. They could have worked to develop a store front, then a completely separate selection of community tools so that no matter where you buy your game, you can always integrate the steam clients and your friends lists.

    Of course, it’s a stretch to expect any developer to do that and it is a valid complaint, but I don’t see it being fair blaming EA for a problem that Valve are doing nothing to stop.

  10. Battlefield 3 looks good but I am not buying it at retail (I will not go back to disc based crap DRM, ever) and I am not installing some half-assed software distribution setup on my machine just to play one game. It looked like it was going to be a decent shooter but if it doesn’t come to Steam they won’t be getting my money. Probably all the better since the BF2 community will surely move on to this and make the MP portion of this game just as un-fun as they made BF2.

  11. I’m with you Labreya, who cares. the game is what matters, not how you get it.

    However, there is an answer to this. Look at one of Joystiq’s headlines today- “Gamestop to make X dollars by stealing from Steam”. Not by “competing” with Steam, “through Impulse” or “by offering some of the same products”- but from _stealing_ money from Steam. Because Gamestop is a criminal and engages in theft from a beloved company. As if Steam is entitled to your money and somehow owns the rights to all digitial distribution. Nice bit of pro journalism there, guys.

    It’s another Valve fan thing. People love Valve. They could gild Gabe Newell’s droppings and call it Half-Life 3 and Valve/Steam fans would find a way to justify buying it. It’s a silly customer loyalty/fan thing thing at the end of the day. Unfortunately, it could wind up hurting Battlefield 3. Oh no, wait, it won’t. People will bitch online and then download Origin and Battlefield 3 when it all comes down to it. Regardless of their fealty to Steam.

    I don’t use Steam mainly because I don’t play many PC games these days (thanks, craptop)…but if I did I’d use, like you, whatever service had the best deal on what I want. Fuck Steam as a monopoly, I don’t HAVE to use them and I don’t want to be in a position where I have to either.

  12. I just didn’t want to be the one to say it.

    I personally hate the brand loyalty to Valve.

    First, they decide it’s ok to take years to release episodic content. I let them have that, because I got sick of Half-Life around midway through Episode 2.

    Then, there was the Orange Box port to the PS3. Everyone bitched that EA did a shitty port. Nobody pointed out that Valve were too busy shitting about to do it themselves, or that everyone was struggling with the PS3 around 2007/2008. At least EA tried. It was more than Valve were doing at the time. They pretty much felt too elitist to cater to us scruffy peons, with our control pads. That annoyed me, as I felt that EA should have been told “Well, it was an attempt. At least you tried.” at the very least.

    Then there was the whole “Hurr, we’ll never make games on the PS3. It’s too hard to code on it.” back in 2009, which they then do a complete U-turn on that a couple of years later when they suddenly realize they could be making more money. If any other developer had done that, everyone would have had a total fit.

    I find it fascinating that people will love Valve, yet suddenly get their heckles up when EA or Actiblizz attempt to do anything, ever. Valve are just as big a corporate shill as Gamestop, Activision or Electronic Arts.

  13. Because turning on Comrade for your Direct 2 Drive purchases is SUCH a chore compared to turning on Steam for your Valve purchases, right?

    I’ve used GoG, Gamersgate and D2D mainly, and none of those have “half-assed” software distribution setups, and any client you have to get takes a few megs at most. They work just as well as Steam for getting your game, if not better.

  14. I do not have “Comrade” installed now. And I am not going to install it for the sole purpose of playing BF3. If they bring it to Steam I will happily buy it and play it (at full retail price). If they don’t they won’t get my money. Simple as that.

    Somehow I don’t think BF3 will be out via GOG. I love GOG. But they don’t have some retarded client software either. Steam is my choice of software delivery mechanisms on my PC. Use it and there is a better than average chance I’ll look at your game. Choose to be an idiot and not use the #1 distribution platform on the PC and I will probably forget about your game before it launches.

  15. I’m a Steam User. Most of my PC Games were bought on steam. With that being said, I have a few games from GoG, D2D, and Gamersgate. While I’ve decided not to buy games from Impulse, and Origin. The reason is simple, I don’t need more software clogging up my computer. The only problem most people will have with Origin in the long run, is if they decide to make it a mandatory install even if you bought it retail. Yes I know Valve did it in the past, and no I don’t care. If EA decides to make it more like GoG/D2D/Gamersgate, and less like Steam, then I don’t see a huge problem. If they require a mandatory install with bloated software, then I’m sorry, I’ve got 119 games, and a robust friends list on Steam already, they lose.

  16. “It’s another Valve fan thing. People love Valve. They could gild Gabe Newell’s droppings and call it Half-Life 3 and Valve/Steam fans would find a way to justify buying it. It’s a silly customer loyalty/fan thing thing at the end of the day. Unfortunately, it could wind up hurting Battlefield 3. Oh no, wait, it won’t. People will bitch online and then download Origin and Battlefield 3 when it all comes down to it. Regardless of their fealty to Steam.”

    Sigh. And it’s another bullshit blind-hate post about Valve from Barnes.

    It has little do with being a Valve fan thing. Personally I’m not a Valve fan at all. I’ve never bought any of their games and while I have (and loved) Portal, which they gave me free, I only rented Portal 2 as I expected it to be a disappointing purchase. Their other IPs don’t interest me at all.

    I am, however, a very happy Steam user but I’m not a big Steam customer – many of the full-price games I have listed on there were boxed retail copies with Steamworks, and the rest of my games list is mostly indie and sale titles. For me it has little to do with who provides the service, beyond a vague hope that any given authenticated DRM system might survive long-term, and almost everything to do with having a distribution and DRM platform that works well for me as a consumer.

    Naturally GoG would be a superior platform for me (and presumably anyone sane) but it’s not generally an option. Any other platform that wants me to trust it is going to have to convince me that it’s a good-enough alternative, and for Origin in particular that’s going to be very difficult – aside from pricing that’s even more ridiculous than Steam’s, I have no faith at all that EA won’t pull the plug in some way at some point and I have little confidence in how EA will manage direct customer relationships.

    After all, an analogy to choosing between Walmart and Gamestop is not appropriate at all for anything other than GoG. Neither retailer requires you to sit in one of its stores to be able to play your purchase. If they were to do so then the choice becomes more than one of which is cheapest.

    I agree with you on the Joystiq bit though. Makes me glad I don’t read them.

  17. Once upon a time you would have installed Steam for the sake of a couple of games. Nobody had a problem with it then, but now everyone suddenly has an issue with giving another couple of megs to some download client.

    Thats the part I don’t understand. You probably have plenty of other meaningless crap installed all over your computer. One client (And comrade is pretty damn streamline at doing its job on my opinion) isn’t going to kill you. Why make such a huge deal of it and get held back in your gaming experiences by what Valve decide?

    Passing up a game you like the look of because you can’t line Valves pockets while buying it is a silly reason to not buy it, plain and simple.

  18. Just as a heads up, you can run your XBox and Steam friends list in the Raptr client. They also support the usual messaging services like AIM, MSN, Yahoo etc.

    I dunno if they have in there yet. I think they’re trying to integrate it. They do have stats comparisons for WoW characters. Maybe try and convince buddies to make a Raptr account?

    I haven’t used Raptr in a while, but it might be something useful to check out when you get a chance. The client is a small download, and it might be a good way of managing multiple friends lists.

  19. Thats the excuse I usually hear, and personally I think it’s one bred from ignorance. Try some of the other clients. The ones like Impulse are just Steam with a new hat anyway.

    “Valve was here first” is not an excuse. As I said to someone else, it takes no more effort to download and install stuff like Comrade or Impulse. “I don’t want clients” is what I generally here from people who haven’t even tried any other clients. These clients aren’t the horror-fest people let on. They only take up a few megs. If you’re short space to install a client, how are you installing modern games? Hell, Steams recommended specs tells you you should have a gig of free space. Impulse wants 100 megs. Steam wants 512 RAM, Impulse wants 50. If anything, Steam is the fattest kid in the playground, yet everyone else worries about other clients bloating up their system. Steams size stops me from playing TF2 on my laptop. It eats just enough ram to cause TF2 to cause my laptop to overheat.

    Your robust steam friends list is just as much an issue caused by Valve as everyone else. As I said, they could have made the store and separate community tools, but they didn’t. Instead they forced them on everyone at the start and gambled people would be too comfortable with them to check out the competition, and they were right. As for your 119 games, buying the majority of games at one shop doesn’t stop you from going to others.

  20. The issue is people having to have tons of individual clients for all of these games. It is really nice to have all your games in one spot, with one account to manage, one client to install, one client to manage game installs. People want simple, this is just not as simple as what people want.

  21. Valve are just as much at fault as everyone else is in this problem. I don’t see anyone pointing out that if Valve really loved their customers as much as people seem to think, they’d be going “Look, we built these awesome community tools. Whats that? Didn’t buy your game with us? Thats cool. Here’s a stripped out one so you can have your messenger and friends lists in any game.”

    Seriously, Valve are just as big a part of this issue. They cause just as much contention as everyone else, yet get a free pass. Hell, they were the very first to force you to install clients as far as I can recall, and were one of the first to force you to be online with a game to activate it. They were real trend setters for things people will readily complain about today.

    Steam, in a nutshell, is DRM with a shop and a forum attached. Apparently people are ok with that…….until someone else does it. Then they’re the devil.

  22. These days, I am almost glad if a game isn’t on Steam or tied into Steam. To me it’s just another form of DRM, with an admittedly convenient shopping mechanism. But I’m still an old-fashioned pack rat, and looking at a list of titles in an application just doesn’t have the same appeal as looking at my shelf of games which have stacked up over the years… Besides that, with the limited bandwidth we have where I live, downloading 5GB or more isn’t exactly quick.

    I didn’t get BC2 from Steam, and I will gladly buy BF3 retail.

  23. So bandwidth and big downloads are a null issue for me. However, I agree on the shelves of games. It’s one of the reasons I stopped PC gaming. Everything was all indie digital games, and it never offered the same shopping experience of buying those boxed games and taking them home.

    Hell, all my digital purchases on the PC were just to replace my PC games, so all my boxed, disc based games only have to worry about sitting there, looking pretty.

    I got the digital version of LittleBig Planet for the PS3 way back when, with the intent of selling my physical copy. Ended up I couldn’t bring myself to part with that box. It’d feel like there’d be a gap on my shelf forever.

  24. “A couple of games” is a couple more than one. I don’t need a half dozen different clients cluttering up my machine so that I can forget what is installed where. That’s a menu for frustration. Right now I know exactly where all my games are. By not putting the game on Steam EA has made my purchasing decision for me. There are a dozen other games I am looking forward to playing that will be on Steam at the same time that BF3 launches and I’ll play them instead.

    And I do not have any “meaningless crap” on my machine. I re-install my OS and everything else at least once a year to keep my machine as crap free as possible and I do it for a reason. That’s my line in the sand. No to Impulse, no to Origin and no to every other poorer version of the software I have already chosen. It has nothing to do with lining Valve’s pockets, I want what I want where I want it. Give it to me there and you’ll get paid or don’t and you won’t.

  25. The other clients aren’t poorer. Thats just an excuse by people too lazy to check out other clients for themselves, and too comfortable sticking with Valve. I’m running Impulse right now, and it’s using less resources than Steam does, and is EXACTLY the same functionality. Hell, it loaded a lot faster than Steam ever has on my laptop.

    Your only valid excuse is “I’ll get confused”.

    Also, it wasn’t that EA wouldn’t put the game on Steam. It was that Valve decided they didn’t want it, because Valve wouldn’t let EA manage patching and DLC, so you can drop that routine. EA didn’t make the decision for you, Valve did.

  26. “Also, it wasn’t that EA wouldn’t put the game on Steam. It was that Valve decided they didn’t want it, because Valve wouldn’t let EA manage patching and DLC, so you can drop that routine. EA didn’t make the decision for you, Valve did.”

    Also, it wasn’t Steam that didn’t want the game. It was EA that decided they didn’t want it on Steam because they insisted on managing patching and DLC themselves, so you can drop that routine. Valve didn’t make the decision for him, EA did.

    Yours has no more merit than mine.

  27. That Valve never had an issue with letting EA manage these things before, and suddenly changed the rules on how DLC and patches should be managed.

    Thats what resulted in Crysis 2, along with a few other titles, suddenly being booted off Steam. Valve changed the rules without warning.

    Valve won’t mention what these new rules are. Probably because it’d make it blatantly obvious that this was a knee-jerk reaction to EA’s Origin service hosting EA exclusive content on EA games.

  28. And Valve haven’t disputed it in the slightest. Although, it’s kind of hard to put “We introduced new rules that denies content to our customers and causes contention with our suppliers” in a good light.

  29. I’ve tried Impulse, Elemental War of Magic, and Sins of a Solar Empire were Stardock and therefor Impulse Games. I played those games, I uninstalled Impulse. They are not Steam with a different hat. That’s like saying PSN is basically just Xbox Live for Sony. The services are similar, but one is superior to the other, Steam, in my, and most others opinions is Superior to the others, that’s why we go there.

    Saying that I don’t want more clients is completely valid. Just like saying I don’t want bloatware installed on my computer. Do I have space? Of course I do, but I DON’T WANT IT THERE, period. I don’t want to run Impulse, Steam, Origin, and Comrade when I can just run Steam.

    What they “Could” have done isn’t relevant to the debate. What they did is integrate a friends list and social tools into the client. So that’s the end of that. As for my 119 games, Steam has streamlined the process. The provide all the information I’d ever need on one page. Screenshots, Dev Info, Pre-Purchase information, even (for those who use it or care) the Metacritic score. While I was in Iraq they provided me with excellent support in a very timely manner, while the others (Impulse and D2D specifically) either couldn’t or wouldn’t. So I’ll go ahead and stick with them, thanks.

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