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Most of us who followed the news already knew that Battlefield 3 wasn’t appearing on Steam since the info leaked from a retailer meeting pretty much saying Battlefield 3 won’t be appearing on Steam. However, Electronic Arts has officially notified their users (and the gaming community at large) that Battlefield 3 won’t be on Steam due to Valve’s terms of service that restricts EA’s ‘ability to connect directly with consumers’. I like to think of that statement more-so as "Valve won't let us screw PC gamers over, so Battlefield 3 won't be on Steam".
According to a forum post on the official EA website…
EA offers games, including Battlefield 3, to all major digital download sites. In doing so, our goal is to not only reach the widest possible global audience with our games, but also to provide ongoing customer support, patches and great new content. We are intent on providing Battlefield 3 players with the best possible experience no matter where they purchase or play the game, and are happy to partner with any download service that does not restrict our ability to connect directly with consumers.There’s a repeated phrase throughout this PR-worthy post, and that is “interact” or “connect” with “customers” or “consumers”. In some regards, this gives the impression that there’s some sort of back-pocket peddling going on.
Now, I may not be a fan of Steam, but they always seem to have the interest of the gamer in mind. It is, beyond any shadow of a doubt, convenient for gamers to purchase and play their games whenever or however they like from the Steam platform. For this particular scenario, I find it hard to believe that the terms of service Valve has instituted for Steam is somehow an inhibitory factor for consumer purchases and will somehow work aversely against gamers. I believe the situation may be to the contrary, but given EA’s vague delineation of the actual clause in question, it’s difficult to breakdown the matter.
What we do know is that EA does reserve the right to cancel or close Origin accounts that have been inactive for two or more years, even if they do have content or entitlements attached to them. The wily wording in EA's Origin TOS leads me to believe that EA may be trying to find ways to circumvent Steam’s “consumer first” advocacy and that may be where the problem is coming in. If EA decides to pull a “cancel or close” stunt on your DLC to potentially charge extra for re-downloading or re-accessing content, then I can see how that may conflict with Valve’s consumer trust policy it seems to enact for Steam users, which basically ensures that once you pay for the content, you can access it from your account at anytime.
This isn’t the first time this has happened between EA and Valve, though, Dragon Age II as reported on Joystiq, was also pulled from Steam for the exact same reasoning. If EA really had the consumer in mind wouldn’t they just have the DLC made available and ready like most other games available on Steam, such as any Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto game?
One thing is for sure, EA doesn’t want to short-change their potential financial gain for Battlefield 3, even at the expense of consumer convenience. Hence, Battlefield 3 will not be appearing on Steam and EA has just lost a lot of PC consumers because of that.