A Diversion - Steam and EA's Origin

I’m going to step out of the writer’s corner to address video games again. As long-time readers and those who know me personally may be aware, I’m a big fan of Bioware’s Star Wars: The Old Republic massively multiplayer online roleplaying game (MMORPG.) When I got it, the only option open to me to get it digitally was through Electronic Arts’ Origin service, which didn’t make me happy. I’ve been a fan of Valve’s Steam service for many years.

I’ve been going through my Steam game library and looking at Origin over the last few days and I’ve noticed there’s an odd relationship between them. I bought a game from EA’s popular Sims series, and I did so through Steam. The next time I opened up Origin, I found that same game had been added to my collection and was ready to download.

It makes sense in a way I suppose. It’s an EA game; EA obviously gets their cut of every sale of their games on Steam.

It even makes a certain amount of sense that they would allow registrations like this through a competitive service to be used on their Origin service. It makes it easier for people to use Origin more if they don’t have to rebuy content they’ve already paid for, and all of their stuff (at least stuff from EA) is there waiting for them.

The thing that I find odd is that it also constitutes a disincentive on the customer’s part to buy anything from Origin itself. I’m very interested in getting EA’s Mass Effect 3, for instance, and I was thinking of getting it via Origin, since it’s not currently available on Steam. Now though I’m wondering if it’d be better to wait until it is available on Steam.

Any game of EA’s that I buy on Steam is available to me via both Steam and Origin. But since Steam doesn’t get a cut of EA games I buy from Origin, stuff I buy on Origin stays on Origin only. (Yeah, my head is hurting now too. Sorry!)

Just another facet of the complexities of life in the digital age I guess. But it’s that same digital age that has had such a great effect on self-publishing opportunities for writers, so it’s hard to complain.