EA and DICE's Battlefield 3 is perhaps the most anticipated shooter coming out this year and apparently it won't be available on one high-profile digital distribution service. Want to guess which one?
Last week EA posted (then pulled) a list of the digital retailers expected to carry the game and essentially confirmed what many already suspected: Steam is not making the cut. Battlefield 3 was listed for EA's own Origin service, as well as Direct2Drive and GamersGate, but things are not looking good for the EA-Steam relationship. Now a GameStop executive has chimed in saying that Battlefield 3 will be sold as a download through GameStop's Impulse, but not Steam.
There has been some speculation about a possible break-up between EA and Valve, after Crysis 2 was pulled from the Steam platform and appeared on EA's new storefront sporting a misleading "only on Origin" tag. Although many of us saw this as a power play to draw people into using their service, EA was quick to clarify that in fact the decision was not theirs, but rather the result of a business requirement from Valve to make DLC packs available through Steam.
EA's David DeMartini, who now heads the Origin platform, sought to explain the publisher's position in a blog post earlier this month where he basically says that EA wants to take direct responsibility for providing patches, updates, additional content and other services to players and this conflicts with Steam's rules.
DeMartini added that they are working diligently to find a mutually agreeable solution but unless they can come to some sort of arrangement before October Steam users will have to buy Battlefield 3 elsewhere. It's a risky business decision given the huge loyal customer base of Valve's platform. Then again, EA knows such an anticipated game will give it some leverage when it comes to negotiating terms with Steam and shift the balance of power a little in its favor.