Tuesday , October 27 2020

So long, Origin? EA comes back to Steam with new games, Ars Technica


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EA’s years-long Steam split ends amid Valve’s battle with the Epic Games Store.

      

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EA and Origin find themselves in the eye of the storm, so to speak.

Enlarge/EA and Origin find themselves in the eye of the storm,

Aurich Lawson / Getty Images

For the first time since 2012, Electronic Arts is once again publishing new games on Valve’s Steam platform, the publisherannounced today.

A preorder page for next month’sStar Wars Jedi: Fallen Orderis already upon the Steam store, and EA promises that “other major titles,” likeThe Sims 4andUnraveled Two, will be available on Steam in “the coming months . ” Multiplayer titles likeApex Legends,, andBattlefield V, meanwhile, will be available on Steam “next year,” with cross-play between the Steam versions and those on EA’s existing Origin service.

A long time coming

EA’s return to Steam marks a sea change for the company’s PC gaming plans, which for years have focused on Origin as its primary ( and in most cases exclusive) sales channel. The company’s Steam releases slowed to a trickle in 2012. By 2013, the only new EA content on Valve’s service was DLC for various (Sims) ***************************** (games)

Back in 2011, when EA announced that(Battlefield 3) would not be available on Steam, EA cited Valve’s “restrictive terms of service” that made it more difficult to distribute patches and DLC through the game client itself. While therewas some merit to that argument, the fact that EA didn’t have to pay Valve a 30% revenue cut for sales through Origin may have also played into the continuing decision to avoid Valve’s popular storefront.

But Origin faced pushback from a contingent of Steam- invested gamers almost immediately, thanks in part to its lack of features and the prospect of managing a separate new friends list. EA Executive Vice President Andrew Wilsonacknowledged Origin’s poor public reception in 2013, saying to those who had a “less than optimal experience” with the service, “We get it. We understand it. We have heard, we have made some changes already in terms of how we do things, and we’re looking at more changes that we’ll talk about over the coming months that really are gamer-focused. “

In the ensuing years, EA tried to set Origin apart by introducingthe Origin Access subscription program,adding features like game refunds( years beforeValve did similar on Steam), and offeringregularfreegame downloadsthrough its “On the House” program (until it wasdiscontinued in 2018). But by 2016, EA wasonce again on a public “journey to regain trust of the PC gamer”after a series of poorly received game launches on Origin.

EA also tried competing more directly with Steam by slowly opening Origin’s digital library (andthe Origin Access subscription program) Up togames from other publishers. And while major studios like Square Enix, Warner Bros., and Ubisoft have listed some games on Origin in recent years, most of those were also available on Steam, where they presumably sold to a much larger audience of PC players.

Not an Epic move

EA’s return to Steam takes on added significance today, as Valve faces perhaps its most serious large-scale competition yet from the Epic Games Store. Much like Origin, Epic isslowly opening accessto a variety of third-party publishers and usingfree game giveawaysto attract attention, while also beingcriticized for a relative lack of featuresby many Steam fans. But Epic is alsooffering publishers a better revenue shareandpurchasing a wide array of exclusivesthat set it apart from both Origin and Steam.

Publishers like (Ubisoft) ,2K Games, andmany morehave taken advantage of Epic’s friendlier terms andrevenue guaranteesin moving exclusive titles away from Steam in recent months. EA’s decision to stick with Valve, rather than follow suit, is a major vote of confidence in Valve’s continued role as the primary way most PC gamers still get most of their games. The company obviously doesn’t shareRandy Pitchford’s concern that Steam may be a dying store in five to ten years.

                                 

              

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