EA Arrives On Steam, But Only A Bit

By John Walker on December 19th, 2008 at 11:25 pm.

Another name on the Madness Train?

The rumours were true, Spore has arrived on Steam. And it’s brought with it a collection of EA games, making their first appearance on Valve’s monolithic download service. Along with it comes MMO Warhammer: Age of Reckoning, racer Need For Speed Undercover, Bioware’s Mass Effect, and FIFA Manager 2009. Oh, unless you don’t live in the US or Canada. Sigh. Although apparently EA doesn’t know about this.

There’s been some confusion somewhere along the line. In the press release announcing EA’s arrival on Steam, Valve states (our emphases),

“Valve today announced Spore, Spore Creepy & Cute Parts Pack, Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, Mass Effect, Need for Speed Undercover and EA SPORTS FIFA Manager 2009 are available now to gamers in the United States and Canada via Steam.”

Which is then immediately followed by a completely contradictory quote from EA’s John Pleasants, their President, Global Publishing & Chief Operating Officer.

“We are pleased to extend our holiday titles to gamers worldwide via Steam…”

It seems Valve’s version is the more realistic, as none of EA’s games have appeared on EuroSteam. So are EA jumping on board the Train Of Madness with Ubisoft (with the exception of Far Cry 2) and Atari, where they won’t make their games available internationally?

The very recent launch of both European and UK versions of Steam, charging unique prices – and EU readers, we’re very aware of quite how unique the Euro pricing is, and will try to get some answers – means publishers can now charge their increased prices for us abroad types, surely making international sales a more likely prospect?

Before the brand new localised Steams, you could understand EA’s fear of undercutting their own highly priced download site. For example, incredibly Spore is still priced at £40 on the EA Store, despite being available almost everywhere else at £30 or less. Direct2Drive have it at £28.22 – which also also recognises the drop in VAT.

However, if they want Spore at £40 on Steam, they can have that. So why not? We’ve contacted EA and Valve to see if there are any answers, and will let you know as soon as we hear anything.

EA plan to put Mirror’s Edge, Red Alert 3 and Dead Space on Steam in coming weeks, but those outside of the US/Canada probably shouldn’t hold their breath. Unless they’re underwater, when it’s essential.

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91 Comments »

  1. Ben Abraham says:

    Mirrors Edge? It’s not even out for PC yet and they’re thinking of putting it on steam! Hmm…

  2. lumpi says:

    Of course, sending BITS to Europe is 35% more expensive than sending the same BITS to the USA.

    I didn’t even get the argument for inflated hardware prices of hardware in Europe. Isn’t China (where it is produced) less travel time to the EU than it is to the US?

    F#% IP-discrimination.

  3. Steve says:

    It still comes with the nasty install limits, does it not? Kind of defeats the entire point of Steam, really.

  4. Nimic says:

    This is good news if it actually is worldwide. Or, this is good news if it is worldwide and Steam changes the ludicrous EU pricing (and I say EU loosely; Norway isn’t even in the EU, let alone use the Euro, and we don’t pay VAT on digital purchases)

  5. Del Boy says:

    Nice header image.

  6. TheDeadlyShoe says:

    Is Steam pricing determined by the publisher or the store? I need to apportion blame.

  7. Rei Onryou says:

    Sell games at one of the most popular digital download services available. Marketing genius!

    Sell to a minimum number of people at extortionate prices and blame low sales on p[uppies - Arrrr Ed]. Typical game publisher. ¬_¬

    I hope the lack of world love gets resolved soon and all the publishers learn the error of their ways. Of course, unless the spirits of Christmas past, present and future visit the CEOs of EA/Ubi/Atari, I doubt very much anything will happen.

    Of course, is this EA realising that their own digital distribution channel is useless? At least those in North America won’t have to pay extra to download their games in 2 years time…

  8. John Walker says:

    TheDeadlyShoe – Valve are always very quick to make it clear that prices and territories are determined by the publisher.

  9. rupert says:

    if ea do go full on with this then hopefully there dire store downloader app thing will die

  10. Mark says:

    Did they strip the redundant copy protection from their Steam releases, or are we going to have to put up with the same kind of stupidity that we got from the Bioshock release?

    I’m not downloading anything that might give me Computer Herpes.

  11. John Walker says:

    Mark, I’d love to be able to tell you, but I can’t even see the games on Steam : (

  12. jonfitt says:

    From Joystiq:
    Also, in case you’re wondering, EA games on Steam apparently don’t install or use third-party DRM set-ups. According to Valve “the only DRM it uses is Steam itself.”

    Woohoo! I may finally play some EA games from this year.

  13. Steve says:

    John, considering Warhead had the same DRM as it did in retail on Steam I’d say it’s a safe assumption that the new EA games will. Which sucks :/.

  14. Ginger Yellow says:

    It’s an entirely understandable decision. After all, US and Canadian sales of FIFA Manager will be so high they don’t need to sell it in Europe.

  15. jonfitt says:

    http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?t=771370

    Is the source. It’s stated by a Volunteer Mod, so I wouldn’t bet the farm on it. but he seems pretty adamant.

  16. Turkish Superman says:

    Someone from BioWare said on Blue’s News that the only DRM Mass Effect has is Steam DRM:

    http://bluesnews.com/cgi-bin/board.pl?action=viewthread&boardid=1&threadid=94257&id=0&view=flatold&start=0

  17. Jockie says:

    Shame WAR is not for Euros, means we still have to put up with those sneaky GOA types.

  18. lobsterjohnson says:

    I’m liking that the screenshots on the mirror edge steam page are of the level pack, meaning that it’s included in the pc version for free? We can pray.

  19. redrain85 says:

    Yep, apparently EA has dropped SecuROM on their Steam releases. I hope they do the same in the future for the retail ones, too. I also hope they abolish their EA Download service. I’ve never used it, but I’ve heard about how awful it is and how it’s essentially an enormous rip-off to buy anything from it.

    If EA drops SecuROM entirely (heck, they can have the retail versions use Steam as well), then other publishers are likely to follow suit.

    It looks like the lawsuits did have their intended effect, and EA knows they can’t win. They broke several laws, and now it’s coming home to roost.

  20. Gap Gen says:

    Actually, did EA do market research to justify the prices on their download store? I would have thought that only savvy gamers who can shop around buy online.

  21. Aftershock says:

    Count yourself lucky you even get your own localised version.

    We here in Australia have incredibly high game prices in-store, and our Steam is still in USD. But we can’t buy games that are US-only.

    £40 (AUD$88) for Spore? Thats what it is at retail here, this long after release. It was £45 (AUD$100) here on release.

  22. Pantsman says:

    I must say that I’m dissapointed in Valve’s decision to cave to the publisher’s will and create a separate, higher-priced Steam for non-NA countries. I know it’s probably the only way they could convince the publishers to offer the games elsewhere over Steam, but…still.

  23. John Walker says:

    Thing is, Pantsman, as we reported earlier this week, pretty much everything in the UK Steam is cheaper, some stuff by magnitudes.

  24. Pantsman says:

    @John Walker
    Omg, one of RPS’s contributors replied to my comment! I’m blushing.

    I indeed read the article about the UK Steam, but I thought that there was a seperate Euro one with the usual ridiculous Euro prices. Or am I mistaken?

  25. kuddles says:

    Yup, just to confirm, Crysis Warhead still contains the original “5-limit” Securom but none of the present additions (and presumably future ones) do not.

  26. Rob says:

    For the record, as of 2 nights ago it was 309 cheaper for the UK vs US against 138 more expensive. Although the US prices have moved to parity against the most extreme examples in the new pricing structure (Pirates! et al.), the complete packs are still cheaper – to the tune of just under £12.

    Worst excesses in the wrong direction are Football Manager 2009 – a £10 difference, and, bizarrely, Space Siege, a £17 difference.

  27. kuddles says:

    I meant all the present additions (Mass Effect, Spore, FIFA Manager, NFS: Undercover) do not contain Securom. Me speak good English.

  28. noexes says:

    Often on steam when there is 3rd party DRM they mention it in steam. It’s there for Crysis Warhead on the right-hand side but not there for the new games on there. That might be an oversight, I don’t know, but it’s a positive sign.

  29. Psychopomp says:

    Well…

    Crap…

    Now I’m going to end up buying Mass Effect again, in addition to buying Eve AND WAR.

    EA, who told you games on Steam is my weakness?

  30. hoohoo says:

    @kuddles

    the crysis games arent really ea games on steam. crytek holds the dd rights to them and the drm is their decision not ea’s.

  31. dhex says:

    the regional blocking makes little sense, unless EA has some kind of euro download system contract in place that it’s trying to protect?

  32. Al3xand3r says:

    Wrote what’s on my name’s link for the Euro prices a while ago. No response from Valve of course, even though my e-mail was much kinder in questions than the actual article.

    I think the point about digital-distribution-only games is the biggest one, not that the rest is of no importance of course, but such games don’t have a Euro publisher to jack up the prices for them so it makes ya wander, is this really Valve bending to the will of publishers, or their own will, knowing that Steam’s biggest card is not the prices but its convenience.

  33. Al3xand3r says:

    Oh and of course it’s cheaper for Britain because their currence has sort of fallen flat, they’ll either adjust it if this keeps happening or it will be back to normal soon, and they will be paying about as much as the rest of Europe then.

  34. hoohoo says:

    what are the prices like on valves own games in the eu? that should pretty much tell you whether its valve or other publishers who are out of whack.

  35. Al3xand3r says:

    Valve also have retail publishers in Europe, you know. Otherwise they might as well undercut EA’s store-bought copies and offer them cheaper for all users on Steam. Anyway, some are the same, some are something like 44.99 euros instead of 49.99, which is still much higher when converted in $.

  36. Kleevah says:

    what are the prices like on valves own games in the eu? that should pretty much tell you whether its valve or other publishers who are out of whack

    Left4Dead is €44,99, which is roughly €10 more than what it costs in stores around here.

  37. Al3xand3r says:

    Yep, download-games don’t lose value with age it seems, heh. Stores put games in bargain prices (or bins) after a few months, but you’ll be lucky to get a holiday or weekend discount on things like Steam…

  38. DigitalSignalX says:

    What rubbish, clearly steam’s tubes run on the same gauge in most of Europe as they they do it the States. What they should do is keep out the REST of the world and their foofy steams.

  39. RichPowers says:

    Yeah, why should the internet have walls? Does EA have to ship digital copies to ye olde Europe in galleons, hence the delay? It’s the 21st goddamn century.

    Anyway, I’m pleased that EA dropped SecuROM and install limits. I’m getting Mass Effect now.

  40. jalf says:

    So within a single week we have:
    1: EA games coming on Steam
    2: EA games on Steam with no crazy DRM
    3: EA games only on Steam in the US
    4: Steam prices exploding.

    What the hell? I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Perfect storm of bad news negating all the good news?

  41. Ludo says:

    Aside from the pricing differences and the ever fluctuating economy, this is surely a positive move which demonstrates that EA are serious about tackling the PC market. They’re exploiting one of the best digital distribution services out there right now to grab extra sales and push their games on this great platform. A positive public response will hopefully see them porting more games to the PC, and hopefully in the case of other titles such as Fifa 09, making better ports.

  42. jalf says:

    Agreed. This part of the public will give them a positive response as soon as Valve makes it affordable to buy games from them in Europe again… ;)

    (I never thought I’d see the day where I praised EA and bashed Valve in the same sentence… Truly hell must have frozen over)

  43. Albides says:

    Yep, download-games don’t lose value with age it seems, heh. Stores put games in bargain prices (or bins) after a few months, but you’ll be lucky to get a holiday or weekend discount on things like Steam…

    Speaking of which, Steam has a special weekend offer for Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl. $3.74! Though perhaps that’s only for my region.

    I was elated when I saw this article as I thought it might mean a reduction on the absurd Australian retail prices for Spore. Until recently, $AU100 at EB Games, which translates to US68 or £45, and they’re going to have to taste my spore before I pay money like that. Strangely, even the EA Store is cheaper, but I’m damned if I’m going to attempt to use their download service. Unfortunately, Australia has also been left out in the cold, with the EA deal limited only to North America. I’m going to have to keep waiting if I’m looking for a bargain price for Spore.

  44. Grey_Ghost says:

    “Often on steam when there is 3rd party DRM they mention it in steam.”

    They don’t mention it on the Bioshock page, which I am pretty sure has it. There is even a sticky in their forum about SecureROM Errors here.

    Unless it has been removed from the Steam version… I would surely like to buy it if I knew that were so.

  45. MeestaNob! says:

    @Albides
    I saw Spore Galactic Edition for $130!!! I nearly fainted.

  46. Alex says:

    I can’t wrap my head around why the prices for Euro
    -steamers have flipped out. Valve has always had the ability to offer stuff at different rates depending on the region of the buyer. Why moving on from a US-dollar-only payment scheme should mess up the prices, I don’t know.

  47. Albides says:

    Indeed, Meestanoob. When you ask for it at the store, they kick you in the balls, take your wallet, shake out your pockets for loose change, then forcefully give you the game as a suppository. That’s how bad prices are in Australia.

    I’ve noticed it’s the same for books, where it’s in fact cheaper to order a huge stack from Amazon US than it is to use some Australian alternative, despite the fact that the former costs an exorbitant amount to ship here, while the latter tops at about $AU6.50 for however many books you want. I’ve saved $AU60 on a book order from America instead of using local alternatives. And that’s with the $AU40 postage to Aus. WTF.

    All right, I’ll get off my soapbox now.

  48. MeestaNob! says:

    Have you signed up for Borders weekly email? They almost always have some sort of 10-35% of printable coupon on books and/or DVDs?

    All of this is useless of course if you’re located somewhere remote. You’re not out in deepest darkest WA somewhere are you? Probably not many Borders out there. :D

  49. Albides says:

    Naw, Wollongong, but it’s remote enough. Nearest Borders is Sydney, which would have been convenient enough back when I used to work there. I noticed both Dymocks and Angus & Robertson have loyalty card schemes now, though, which is something, I guess. Usually I’d buy second-hand, but that isn’t always a possibility. I’m heading to Burkelouw’s books at Berrima tomorrow to get myself some Christmas presents.

    Thanks for the headsup anyway.

  50. MeestaNob! says:

    No worries. You might want to try QBD (http://www.qbd.com.au), if you’re keen ordering online. I’ve only bought from them once, but it came within the week and in good condition. They often have hard cover stuff on special and near-paperback prices, and if you buy a couple of items shipping is reasonable. Recommended.

    In other news, *Achievement Unlocked* – Hijack an RPS thread with a fellow Aussie – 10Gp.

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