The Fade: Dragon Age II Gone From Steam

By Alec Meer on July 27th, 2011 at 10:44 am.

Caption: This is a man with a sword. I am on *fire* today.

Oh, I hope this isn’t a sign of a dark, headline-writing times to come. I don’t want to spend the rest of 2011 writing ‘Game X Gone From Steam’ every other day. The latest departure from the packed ranks of Steam is EA and Bioware’s Dragon Age II – and right on the eve of the launch of its new DLC Legacy.

Something which may be no coincidence.


DA2 grabs its DLC via an in-game downloader, rather than via Steam itself. This seems relevant to earlier EA comments that ‘changed’ terms and conditions in Steam were causing some of its other games, most notably Crysis 2, to be booted off by Valve. Essentially, the claim is that if a game downloads and/or sells downloads via another medium or service, it’s violating its Steam arrangement. While previous EA/Steam argy-bargies have been related to EA’s rival service Origin, DA2 uses its own built-in launcher. As Destructoid observe, if the DLC is indeed the cause of the vanishing, fixing things would require actually altering the game. D’toid also alleges sources have told ‘em that DA2′s vanishing is indeed down to the Legacy being available from an in-game store rather than via Steam.

Of course, that isn’t known. There could be any number of other reasons – for instance, Legacy having some incompatibility with the Steam version of DA2, new DRM, or even an attempt to stealth-introduce DA2 players to Origin, which does seem to be a regular cause of conflict. We just don’t know, though.

And with Valve so far having declined to comment on tensions between it and EA (we have asked again – will update if we hear back), it’s tricky and even dangerous to draw too many conclusions. But if Steam really is, as EA have argued, banning any games which include their own in-game content delivery methods, that’s something we just can’t get behind.

It’s troubling that a service might seek to stipulate what a game is and isn’t allowed to do – though again the precise reason for DA2 taking a walk isn’t known, so the possibility of a more troubling T&C violation remains. Whatever the reason, it seems intertwined with a broader issue that’s likely to come up again and again. The desire for profit, and thus for as much DLC as possible to be sold through Steam rather than in-game, is eminently understandable, but download services like Steam don’t own (most of) the games they host, in the same way a branch of Gamestation or GameStop doesn’t own the games on its shelves. If a retailer refused to sell games in which DLC could be bought direct from the publisher, there’d surely be outrage. As, indeed, there was in response to a rumour late last year that certain retailers were making noises about not stocking PC games with Steamworks in. (Bit of a storm in a teamcup that one, given most retailers won’t stock PC games anymore anyway.)

Should the digital nature of stores like Steam make a difference? If this is happening, should we be okay with it, with digital stores setting their rules in such a way that they ensure they can take 25% (or whatever the precise figure is) of absolutely every in-game sale? Should publishers and developers not be biting the hand that feeds by trying to find ways to get around the system and sell directly? Or can we still hope for a world where everyone works together and allows flex in the name of both parties doing pretty well out of an initial game sale?

As more and more games embrace the pay for more content model – as they so obviously will, given the understandable appeal of players continuing to fork out money for a game long after its release – it’s a fight that’s only going to get harder. For that reason, the industry’s going to have to come to a universal agreement on how it’s done and by what avenues. One side bullying another into compliance, whether it’s by banning their games or by aggressively launching a rival service, just isn’t going to work out well, either for players or for publishers. This market is already insanely splintered. Let’s not make it more so.

Let’s also not jump to conclusions. Until we get more answers on exactly what’s gone on between EA and Valve, it’s impossible to identify a hero or a villain here – and as such no-one’s coming out of it altogether well.

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251 Comments »

  1. AngryBadger says:

    Im torn. On the one hand, not having to purchase DLC through Steam seems like a reasonable request. On the other, as a consumer, i like that everything is centralised and available through steam regardless of what type of content it is.
    Can’t DLC be made through both delivery mechanisms and then everyone’s happy?

    • Camerooni says:

      Why can’t we all just get along?
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPMmC0UAnj0

    • zeroskill says:

      ^ just made my day

    • ahac says:

      What about Direct2drive, Impulse, etc.? They’ll want to sell DLC too… but I guess they’ll be happy just selling keys and having the game download the content (unlike Valve who wants full control).

    • jay35 says:

      It should be available through both. Also, the writer’s gripe about Steam dictating what can and cannot be done reminds of Apple’s appstore and how Amazon recently updated their Kindle app to remove its in-app digital book purchasing functionality in order to abide Apple’s new terms. Lame. Now the Kindle app is significantly less functional. If this is indeed Steam’s fault, that’s really disappointing. If it’s just an EA money grab and push for Origin, that’s aggravating.

    • Eamo says:

      Well if you can sell in game content without having to pay anything to Valve then it wouldn’t take a genius to release a free demo where you buy the full game as DLC in-game thus cutting Valve out of the loop entirely and with free-to-play becoming more and more common this sort of behaviour will become a growing trend.

    • Mayjori says:

      I too would really like to know what is really going on, whoevers fault it is (and its probably both), they need to stop being fucktards. Thus far I refuse to buy games on any other distribution platform, I don’t like having to install and deal with multiple distribution systems. I have a massive library of games through Steam, but if they start making it difficult or impossible to get games through them then I will stop using them altogether. If it’s EA being greedy (as usual), then I just won’t buy their games till they put them on Steam. If its the fault of both, I’m rage quitting pc games altogether -.-, cause it will be obvious that neither gives a shit about who’s really important, and that’s me, the god damn fucking consumer, something that it seems like most mainstream gaming companies are forgetting now adays an this will be the straw…..

    • TheMerricat says:

      EA allows downloads of purchased content up to one year after the date of purchase. Steam allows it ‘forever’.

      Another company might only let you download it once.

      That is why I think Valve has it right. If you are selling something on their service, part of the reason why people buy it is the reputation Steam has. In order to keep that reputation, Steam needs to be able to ensure that things like this are consistent.

      Can you imagine the hue and outcry that would arise if you bought a game like DA2 on Steam, DLC like Legacy directly from EA, and a year later couldn’t play Legacy anymore because EA decided to pull a dick move and removed your ability to reinstall it?

      EA want’s to have it’s cake and to eat it too. They want people to buy from them directly and digitally so they can keep all the money to themselves and so the used game market is destroyed, but they don’t want to then come back around and provide any compensation for this in the way of long term support.

      99.99% of the reason I buy from Steam during their sales despite the fact that I know that I won’t have a chance to loop back around and actually play the game for months, is because I feel I can trust Steam not to pull shit like saying “Sorry, you bought this a year ago, that was time enough to play it, no more downloads.”

      I sure as hell can’t say that about EA.

    • Fierce says:

      What’s odd about this situation for me and causes me to lean more towards this possibly being EA’s fault over Valves is that this disappearing act only appears to be happening to newer EA games, a la Crysis 2 and Dragon Age 2, and not the older stuff that may also be violating these supposed T&C changes.

      Take for example the recent Steam Summer Sale. Despite already owning Dragon Age: Origins (via Steam) and some of the DLC, I bought the Dragon Age: Origins Ultimate Edition because at the sale price of $10, I was getting all of the DLC I hadn’t yet bought, plus Awakening, all in a neat little package my save games could happily transfer over to.

      Now here’s the rub; DA:O has always had an internal DLC downloader. I can launch it right now and see it’s familiar “Downloadable Content” menu option, and upon clicking it receive my BioWare Points balance and contrast it with the DLC I haven’t purchased yet. If I should choose to purchase unredeemed DLC, the exchange, download and installation of it will happen right there in-game, or I can choose to add BWP to my account, resulting in an automatic alt-tab to my browser where I’ll have to log into my BioWare Account, go to the Market, et cetera et cetera. A similar, but much more unstable and underwhelming implementation, exists in Splinter Cell Conviction via its Uplay crapware as well.

      So why aren’t these games also feeling the burn? If this
      really is about Valve pulling a Steve Jobs and wanting a piece of every bit of action that passes through its gates, then many other games than Crysis 2 and Dragon Age 2 meet the finger wag requirements. Unless there’s some sort of date-based “prior signing” contract clause for these games, I can’t see this as anything else except EA attempting to strike out on its own with Origin and taking its latest and greatest content with it. And considering the recent article regarding their latest Earnings phonecall, this strategic redeployment thinking may indeed be on their minds.

  2. Icarus says:

    Oh for fuck’s sake.

  3. Crimson Rising says:

    Ha! I know its wrong of me but I love this EA/Valve thing going on. I guess its just because I buy games based on if I want it, not because its on Steam. Fight, Fight, Fight! some more!

    • godgoo says:

      Thanks goodness it’s not just me that goes ‘Huh?’ every time someone says ‘No Steam, no sale’. Maybe I’m just the wrong type of consumer or some type of dinosaur but I generally buy games from the cheapest source available which here in the UK tends (99.9% of the time at a games launch) to be online retail. I get an actual product I can hold which won’t mysteriously disappear and can be tied into my steam a/c anyway. Plus when I buy from shopto they almost always deliver BEFORE the game unlocks on steam.

      Sorry about that; rant over.

    • PoulWrist says:

      Indeed, I’m having a laugh and hoping that we’ll see cheaper games for everyone as a result of this clash of the titans. Although the cynical part of me thinks that both will just monetize on each of their exclusive content :p
      But yea, here in ol’ Denmark Steam manages to be on average 35% more expensive than online retailers. That’s a lot, considering that those retailers include the 25% VAT we have here, and steam only has to include 15%…

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      I love Steam, but I hate the whole ‘No Steam, no sale’ mentality. For God’s sake, this is the PC we’re talking about, don’t turn it into a Valve console. If there’s a better deal at Gamer’s Gate or something, go there.

    • Lemming says:

      Just playing devil’s advocate here, but remember there is a lot of goodwill surrounding Steam that was earned over a long period of time. People were very wary of it to begin with. So you can’t blame people who’ve been using it all this time as their one reliable content-delivery system on PC, for not wanting to share their personal details with a second, or third download service.
      Personally, I think there is more to this than it seems. I just wish Valve would comment in some way. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it turns out EA are violating those ToS deliberately for PR reasons.
      /tinfoilhat.
      I mean, it’s not like Valve are Apple is it? If their ToS were THAT difficult to comply with don’t you think we would have heard about more issues before now? The fact it’s coinciding with EA’s Origin Launch should be ringing the most alarm bells.

    • ucfalumknight says:

      I agree, I prefer steam. But I buy from all of the digital download services. GamersGate and the just turned to the darkside Impulse. I look for the good deals, and when I see them, I buy them. This whole If it’s not on Steam I don’t buy it just adds to the unfortunate PC Gamer snobbery.

    • Kadayi says:

      “I suspect the key difference is that you can also buy both addons through Steam too; whereas with Dragon Age you can only purchase via the in-game store.’

      But that’s been the case with EA/Biowares stuff for quite some time. you’re always buying externally and you’re always downloading the DLC either separately as with ME2, or via an internal downloader as with Dragon Age: Origins & DA:2 none of which is back-boning off of Valves infrastructure (which would be an issue).

      I’m wondering perhaps if this might not somehow relate more to the new download approach Valve are trying out, which might have issues with externally applied DLC (after all it does check which files to DL., and might run into problems with altered files). Just a thought.

  4. gropingmantis says:

    What what? But Ubisoft games games use an in-game updater and they haven’t been kicked off Steam? And GFWL can be used to purchase DLC not avaliable on Steam?
    Somebody isn’t telling us everything…and I suspect it is EA.

    • amishmonster says:

      I’m not sure what the exact conditions were, but I believe Anno 1404/Dawn of Discovery was pulled from Steam due to some update policy violation. Not sure about games with traditional DLC like AssCreed.

    • MiniMatt says:

      Thing is, EA are pretty much the only people who have told us *anything* – Steam are remaining rather schtum on the whole affair. And as much goodwill Valve have at the moment, the interwebs they are fickle.

    • Psico_Payaso says:

      What about GTA though? You can buy both Addons (Ballad of Gay Tony and Lost and Damned) through GFWL, without any problems! There are several other games that include their own Game Updater/Market client or whatever.. Wings of Prey, also does that i think via that Uplay Client..
      Conclusion: ActivisionBlizzard is controlling Valve to “punch” EA in the groin. EA then uses it’s evil tricks to kick back to ActivisionBlizzard by taking their games off Steam.
      Ha! I knew it!
      (kidding of course)

    • zeroskill says:

      This pretty much. There are alot of games on Steam that use ingame stores or shops, just look at GFWL. Its pretty obvious that this is a first step to lure gamers to their very own distribution platform. I personally think its a stupid step by EA, because fighting Valve on the PC is pointless. They wont stand a chance in a direct confrontation with Valve.

    • meatshit says:

      “Thing is, EA are pretty much the only people who have told us *anything* – Steam are remaining rather schtum on the whole affair.”

      Valve really needs to a take a lesson from the political sphere. Staying silent while your opponent spins lies and half truths doesn’t help you. People have have a bias towards any information, no matter how unreliable it is, over no information. They need to come out and give their side of the story before EA can cement the narrative in their favor.

    • hotcod says:

      Do you want to know why valve are keep quite? because they are likely in talks with EA over how to deal with this issue. Battle filed and Mass Effect are on the horizon and valve will want them on steam. If valve gets out spoken EA walks away and what this means is that EA can spin the PR to make them self’s look good just at a time they are bringing out a DD service to compete with steam. I’d be willing to bet that at some point soon the games will return and EA will make a big PR song and dance about how they’ve persuaded valve to be reasonable.

      We don’t know what’s going on. What we do know is that EA is seemingly doing things that valve does not like and that other companies are not. This leaves a lot of room for either side to be playing the bad guy and the truth is likely simply that both sides are trying to do what is in the best interests of their side.

    • Dreamhacker says:

      It might be too little, too late for Valve to release a statement. The question is, will Valve back down on it’s draconic policies, or will other publishers start pulling games?

    • gropingmantis says:

      What draconian rules? Sorry but if you can find some T&C that EA has broken that other games still on Steam have not broken then I will submit to that theory.

    • PoulWrist says:

      @frightlever it’s fine. Works sort of like Impulse did/does (haven’t tried it since Gamestop took over) and it isn’t required that it runs to play your game. Dunno about the community features, savefeatures and whatever else steam has, I don’t use them, so they’re not something I look for.

    • Archonsod says:

      “What about GTA though? You can buy both Addons (Ballad of Gay Tony and Lost and Damned) through GFWL, without any problems! ”

      I suspect the key difference is that you can also buy both addons through Steam too; whereas with Dragon Age you can only purchase via the in-game store.

    • Vagrant says:

      There are older GFWL games that allow content purchased through GFW. Look at the recent Super Street Fighter 4, though: DLC bought through GFW WILL NOT WORK on the Steam version, and we have to wait for them to release the DLC on steam. So, this may only apply to older games on Steam.

    • donmcarthur says:

      I know that Guildwars doesn’t update thought Steam and I’m pretty sure altitude doesn’t either. So I’m calling hogwash on EA’s reasoning.
      I think EA just want to get all the revenue from their digital sales.

    • Lemming says:

      Zeroskill, “They wont stand a chance in a direct confrontation with Valve.”

      Exactly. Which is why I’m suspicious this is EA’s doing. It’s indirect confrontation: “Oh no officer, it was Valve honest..we were just innocent victims etc”

    • Nielk1 says:

      I say it is quite clear by timing this has to do with DLC, so lets consider the evidence. EA is claiming a change in Steam ToS, so no matter how much I agree with the points about the DLC and update systems in Wings of Prey (LITERALLY downloads a Steam like client) and various GFWL games, we have to bring up something that was launched after these so called ‘changes’ if they exist at all.
      Now, assuming that there is something selling DLC internally as has always been the case in the past, I think the conclusion is clear. EA is trying to pull crap borking the Steam versions of games by making their DLC entirely unavailable to said versions.
      If there is *nothing* new selling DLC internally, then it might very well be that Steam wants to sell DLC via its store. Of course, with Borderlands Steam has already demonstrated how an appid of a DLC can easily be nothing more than a KEY (the DNF Early Access Key). In fact, for Global Agenda, to have a paid account if you had bought the game before the whole F2P thing, you get a KEY.
      It is clear it is not update related since many of the new F2P MMOs use internal updaters and they were added post the supposed changes in ‘ToS’. Clearly EA is spinning this to their advantage.
      So, as I see it, Steam could easily offer the DLC as APPIDs that just link a key. They have done it in the past so it is a system possibility. I am of the thought that EA is pulling something to nurf the Steam copies of their games and Steam simply refuses to allow an inferior broken product to be sold on their service, but I have no proof, only suspicion.

      I know that SSF4:Arcade Edition is offering its DLC via Steam at a delayed date from when it is on GFWL, and it will not work on the Steam copy unless bought through Steam. I have to ask, does the Steam copy of that game even HAVE GFWL? They could easily have left it out and thus need to release a Steam Edition of the DLC and further more due to deals with Microsoft for GFWL be forced to delay its release. As I said before, Steam is perfectly able to sell just Keys as DLC (at a system level, can’t speak for ToS).

    • Vagrant says:

      SSF4:AE does include GFWL on the steam edition, and you can even buy the content through the GFWL store, but it doesn’t work on on the Steam version. The first patch for the game added a ‘Steam Storefront’ menu item to the game.
      All the games stated so far are from before EA started pulling games from the service, so the contracts for these games are possibly all from before the theoretical Steam policy change. I’m a little suprised that no news site has gotten hold of the Steam TOC to see what, if anything, has changed.
      Should EA actually be telling the truth here, Valve really is the bad guy in all these. I’m sure there’s more than meets the eye on both sides of the argument.

    • dirtyword says:

      I own the Steam version… So I guess EA won’t sell me the DLC? Bümmer – it looked interesting.

    • Veracity says:

      @dirtyword: get the key from your Steam version and register it on Origin. Not guaranteed, but usually works for anything recent, including some things you’ll see people saying it doesn’t work for because Steam doesn’t expose the key through its front end (eg NFS: Shift) – in that case, try digging through the registry for the key.

    • Clash says:

      I agree. I for one don’t want to use Oracle because it’s just another piece of software I don’t need and more than likely won’t use unless there is an update. And you have to boot it up to find out if there is one. I’d rather not have it enabled at start up like Steam because I have too many things starting up then as it is. I’m rather worried about this whole affair. TOR I’ve been looking forward to for years and they announced it would be Oracle exclusive and jacked the price waaaay up. I think this is EA just money grubbing. Watch the Extra Credits Open Letter to EA episode and you’ll see what EA is. They started as a great company so full of hope and dreams and turned into a corporation that eats money and souls. Bastards…

  5. Camerooni says:

    The evil microsoft were happy to have their dlc available through the ingame GFWL client OR through Steam.. which seems to satisfy all parties. From what I’ve seen, Steam sells a code to activate through microsoft, which then downloads the game. It would be the same as current Dragon Age content, with a redeem code feature (which the original game had)..

    There’s nothing stopping EA from selling their DLC through Steam (sans the 30% or whatever) and allow the consumer to enter the code into the game..

    I think Steams got it right.. if I bought the game from Steam, I’d rather buy the addon’s from there as well.. Less evil companies hands in with storing my cc details the better and I sure as hell won’t be giving my cc details to EA directly anytime soon..

    • The Sentinel says:

      I love how you apply terms like “evil” and “good” to these companies. Does buying games from Steam make you feel like Luke Skywalker fighting the Empire? Are you ‘sticking it to the man’ with every Steam sale purchase?

      I do agree, however, with your point about not wanting to give your card details to every game publisher on the planet. Personally, I’m still annoyed about being made to open an account with every online store just for the privilege of being able to purchase something – there’s no need at all for you to leave a permanent presence. Now we’re going one further and being asked to enter an ongoing relationship with each publisher; next they’ll be asking us to swear fealty.

      What worries me greatly about the way gaming is heading is the fact that we now have to subscribe to one company or another to get the full experience out of our games. Ubisoft, EA, Valve…all require you now to sign up with them. No other form of entertainment media asks you to tie yourself to the content provider in such a naked manner, and it only looks like it’s going to get worse.

    • briktal says:

      Clearly in this scenario EA was the old Republic and are now the rebels fighting against Valve’s Empire.

    • Pathetic Phallacy says:

      I think it’s a matter of EA saying ‘fuck you, we can do this on our own and take over your shares’ and Valve replying ‘good luck, asshole’.

    • chiablo says:

      Valve, a privately owned company: Good
      EA, a publicly owned company: Evil

      Generally privately owned companies of any size care about their customers because they know it keeps them in business. Publicly owned companies care about their shareholders so will rape their customers to please them.

    • The Colonel says:

      So 2DBoy are like the Ewoks then?

    • dirtyword says:

      Public companies like EA have a legal obligation to shareholders to maximize profits. They can literally be held accountable and fired for not squeezing every red cent (red pence for you umbrella-toters) from our pockets.

    • Daiv says:

      I think the important question is whose hand we need to cut off.

  6. amishmonster says:

    I really hope there’s more to this than some fine print from Valve. I can’t imagine that losing the DLC market would hurt them that much, even if they still had to host the content.

    Also, wasn’t all Mass Effect 2 DLC purchased through the Bioware store? I don’t recall any of that showing up through Steam, and there’s none there now.

    • Icarus says:

      ME2 DLC was purchased from the Bioware store and downloaded as a separate installer .exe, yeah. Dragon Age: Origins DLC was likewise, but downloaded in-game (if you didn’t have the Ultimate edition, which just downloaded the lot through Steam).

    • Deadpool46 says:

      Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. I don’t understand how some games seem to violate the new terms and conditions but still stay on Steam.
      Both EA and Valve need to come to some understanding, because it’s consumers that are being negatively affected.

    • Orba says:

      Sounds like games that were available on Steam before the change in terms and conditions are exempt from the new rules as long as no further DLC is added, Crysis 2 and DA2 were both only hit after the release of new DLC.

    • Juan Carlo says:

      They were most likely grandfathered in and released their DLC before Steam changed its policy. So it really doesn’t matter that there are existing games that seem to violate the “Steam must sell dlc” rule. Only new games really matter–and DA2 would suggest as much given that it was pulled on the day that it released new DLC.

      the contracts for all the other games that do this (Mass Effect 2, Dragon Age Origins, older GFWL games) were most likely written before Steam implemented this policy, so they probably won’t be affected.

      It does seem like a losing policy on Steam’s part, though. I don’t see how it can be worth it to them in the long run, for example, to lose a huge game like “Battlefield 3″ over DLC. I can understand how they might want to guard against backdoor “free 2 play” games (i.e. having the base game be really cheap, then the creators making all of their money off of DLC while they basically have steam host the base game for free)–but still I think working out some sort of ratio (i.e. distributors have to charge X amount for the base game or they can’t have DLC) might be a better plan than losing all those potential customers.

    • Optimaximal says:

      Valve have likely grandfathered the older products, exempting them from the revised agreements (unless new DLC is released for them).
      As I mentioned in the PCG comments thread, if they applied this rule retrospectively, nearly all the products from EA, Ubisoft, 2K & THQ would probably violate it and be taken down.

      @Juan Carlo – I doubt Valve would have allowed the F2P games onto Steam if they were worried about losing that market (or have all the games released so far been modified with Steam DLC?)

    • Juan Carlo says:

      In fact, now that I think about it it does make a lot of sense, as what is to stop EA or any company from releasing a game on steam, immediately marking it down to 75% off, then selling tons of DLC through their own in game stores?

      In that case Steam would basically be hosting the game for virtually nothing, while the publisher reaps all the profits from DLC without giving steam a cut. So while I may not like it, I guess I can see why steam would want to do this.

    • gropingmantis says:

      @Juan Carlo: You are so wrong. Dirt3 came out after Crysis2 and I have bought DLC for that through GFWL and none of the DLC is avaliable via Steam. So frankly EA are bull****ting

    • Hallgrim says:

      @gropingmantis: PLUS look at Section 8… small indie game with DLC only available from the GFWL store. Surely if valve was going to strongarm people, it would start with someone smaller than EA?

    • Archonsod says:

      “In fact, now that I think about it it does make a lot of sense, as what is to stop EA or any company from releasing a game on steam, immediately marking it down to 75% off, then selling tons of DLC through their own in game stores?”

      Um, how about the fact Steam can pull a game from their service at any time? Bit of a silly question to be honest, Steam have no obligation to sell a particular game if they don’t want to.

  7. LuNatic says:

    Whilst Valve and Steam appear to be in the wrong,I can’t help but distrust the motives of the evil bastards who run EA. Surely there is more to this story than what shows on the surface.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      So EA’s motives of making money are evil, but Valve’s motives of making money aren’t?

    • zeroskill says:

      Alexander you dont seem to understand one fact. EA and Valve arent just companies. EA is a video game publisher, and Valve is a video game developer. Its two completely different things. Valve is privately owned, they dont awnser to a bunch of shareholders that have never layed their greedy fingers on a video game, in their entire life. Valve are all developers. They dont have managers, or boards, or investment plans while everything EA does has to be justified to a bourd of shareholders that only care about profits. You can read up a little bit on how Valve works here (Develop magazine): http://www.develop-online.net/features/1184/The-Valve-manifesto

    • DSDan says:

      “So EA’s motives of making money are evil, but Valve’s motives of making money aren’t?”
      It comes from looking at their past actions. From that perspective, I’d take Valve over EA any day.

    • DAdvocate says:

      @zeroskill you seem to have a rather idealised (blinkered) vision of a game development company. Do you honestly believe that you could a business with as high a turnover as Valve without hiring your typical corporate types and managers with meetings on investment plans etc?

      Those staff you meet on the trade floor which are so passionate about game development are generally not the ones in charge. Every company has management layers of Bobby Kotick clones even where a “gamer” such as Gabe Newell is nominally in charge.

    • meeper says:

      @zeroskill
      You think that Valve is still just a video game developer? Quaint.

    • Jockie says:

      The number of people who try to boil this down to Good vs Evil are frankly kidding themselves. Valve are developers yes, but that is one arm of a company that also runs one of the largest digital distribution services for gaming in the world. And guess what, that service does not exist purely because they are nice people!

      The fact is, as Alec states, we don’t know the specifics of these current circumstances, we can only speculate. Sure, we can demonize EA and deify valve all we want, but without knowing the facts, that strikes me as fairly naive.

    • Commodore says:

      @DAdvocate: I’ve been to valve (toured) and I can attest to zeroskill’s assessment that they lack a managerial structure. The same fact is repeated in the link he gave, and your response is telling in that you pretty obviously didn’t even click the link, much less read it.

    • Optimaximal says:

      Yes, they lack a defined management structure that fits in with typical tropes (as defined in the Develop article) and they don’t answer to faceless cash-grabbing shareholders, but there are people in the company who do decide its direction and what does/doesn’t go on there. They don’t just decide what they’re doing with a few pints of beer and a dartboard.

      Yes, forcing the availability of DLC through Steam is great for the consumer and good for Valve (assuming the cut is decent), but they [Valve] have made an anti-b2b decision and this is EA saying ‘wait a second…’ to them, hoping to strong arm a revision to the terms by purposely not listing a massive title as being available by them.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      zeroskill: you don’t seem to understand one fact: Valve are a for-profit company. Their aim is to make money.

      Oh, and incidentally: they are also a retailer. And a publisher (albeit of a very limited range of titles).

    • DAdvocate says:

      @Commodore, if you believe that fluff then I’m sure you’re relieved how Shell’s main priority is now to save the planet by investing a little cash in wind farms.

      Inside the game development bubble you can seemingly do away with the horrors of the real world and finance, but where there is money, there are accountants and their opinions will carry a great deal of weight despite the apparent freedom felt by those within the bubble. It is only when the game designers attempt to forge a path into unprofitable territory that their bubble independence will be promptly burst.

    • V. Profane says:

      The big distinction, however, is that Valve is NOT a publicly traded company, so they are inherently a-typical amongst their peers. They run the company as they please, e.g. taking years and years between Half-Life games rather than being forced to shit one out every 12 months to give “value to the shareholders”.

    • meatshit says:

      Corporations aren’t evil by default. Wall Street is however. Once a corporation goes public, Wall Street sinks its dual fangs of unrelenting greed and shortsightedness into it and sucks it dry of anything resembling moral character.

    • LuNatic says:

      @Alexander: EA’s motives of excessive control* are evil. Valve’s motives of making money aren’t necessarily good, but they haven’t done anything to earn my distrust like EA have.

      *Taking established and respected series and running them into the ground for quick profit (Need for Speed, Command and Conquer)
      *Buying respected studios, taking their IPs and shutting them down (Westwood, Bullfrog, Origin)
      *That whole unpaid overtime thing
      *Encrypting their more recent games to stop the community from creating content, then charging for DLC in the same areas.

    • dirtyword says:

      The distinction between public and private companies is actually very important. EA is required to maximize profits. Valve is required to do nothing.

    • stupid_mcgee says:

      @ DAdvocate: Are you seriously trying to compare Chet Faliszek and Robin Walker to Bobby Kotick? I don’t think anyone’s saying that Valve is some autonomous, anarcho-syndicalist commune. TI’m sure Valve does have meetings, plans, etc. However, I’m sure the two working environments are nowhere near the same and you’re insane if you think they are. By their vary nature, highly corporate businesses are much more stifling than privately run businesses with direct owners.

      Having worked a few highly corporate restaurants, I can tell you that they suck. Rules, rules, rules, and most of them don’t make any damn sense. Uniforms, “do as I say not as I do” attitudes, “I know best because I’m higher ranked” snobbery, etc. Having worked primarily for local and privately run businesses, there is a world of difference in employee freedom. You can wear your own clothes (within health code and reason), you can usually listen to your own music, control over specials, and just a generally much more relaxed atmosphere.

      It might not sound like much, but having to wear a dumb hat, goofy-ass clothes, and shout slogans to customers can be incredibly demoralizing and soul-crushing after a while. Some can handle it and great for them, but for a lot of people; expression of the individual is a strong and personally liberating feeling that can greatly increase a person’s mood and (gasp!) their productivity.

      Yes, both are business and probably follow similar protocols, just like Apleebees and Local Restaurant are similar and require employees to abide by health codes. But one lets employees listen to their own music, which keep the cooks happy and sane despite a stressful environment. The other only allows cable radio to be played, which keeps the cooks irritated at having to listen to Celine Dion for the 8th fucking time that night while being in a stressful environment. One lets them wear whetever they want, as long as they wear a hat and appropriate clothes. The other requires they dress up as a walking billboard of moronic gimmickry. It might seem silly, but I’ve balked at jobs because of shit like that. Something as simple as being able to listen to their own radio stations/CDs can mean a great deal to a worker’s happiness and productivity.

  8. Kuroko says:

    And nothing of value was lost.

  9. zipdrive says:

    Although buying through steam is convenient, I don’t like all the power (or all the money) to be in one party’s hands.

    Can’t Valve be content that their excellent service will get players buying through them rather than an insistence on not allowing other ways of purchase?

    Of course, them allowing in-game stores opens a loophole that may make publishers put up free download clients or skeletal “games” on steam, only to have the bulk of the content sold as DLC, thus boning Steam.

    • Hallgrim says:

      The alleged issue here isn’t that Valve won’t allow EA to sell their own games. It’s (again allegedly) that Valve wants EA to sell DLC via Steam if the game was purchased via Steam. Which, frankly, sounds like an untruth or a halftruth because there are *lots* of games on Steam that do this already (sell DLC via in game menu, or sell it exclusively on GFWL).
      Are you really unconcerned that you’ve only heard EA’s side of the story here?

  10. Dzamir says:

    It remembers me the troubles I’m having developing and publishing an iOS app for a magazine.

    • Nathan says:

      Urgh, the iOS terms are such a quagmire of uncertainty about when or when you don’t have to pay 30%, especially if you’re making magazine like content available both in and out of the app store. Such a mess.

  11. Jams O'Donnell says:

    All I can say is that if EA doesn’t want my money they’re going about it the right way.

    • cheesetruncheon says:

      But it’s Valve that took down Dragon Age 2 due to a recent change in their ToS….

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Yeah, and EA didn’t have to do it that way, did they? If it was an honest mistake, they would have already figured it out from the Crysis 2 incident. Instead, this is completely transparently something EA wants to happen, regardless of whose ToS the rules are written in.

      Still, at least EA seem to have stopped making games I want, so there’s no loss to me.

    • bleeters says:

      Yeah, the nerve of these sinister EA types, carrying on doing what they’ve been doing for years now. How dare they not change their way of selling dlc when Valve says so.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      @bleeters

      And yet, tons of other games are sold on Steam but sell DLC through other avenues, and they haven’t been kicked off.

      But surely a company with a reputation as infallible as EA’s doesn’t need to present both sides of the story, since we can just take everything they say at face value.

  12. mbp says:

    I find myself strangely torn on this one. I love Steam and it is my first choice stop for almost all games purchases but I also have a niggling discomfort about monopolies and putting all my eggs in the one basket. In the long run I think we might all be better off if Steam didn’t always get things its own way.

    • DSDan says:

      Predominant market share does not a monopoly make–there are plenty of other places (digital and brick-n-mortar) to buy games.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      If Valve were insisting that EA not maintain their own online store, that would be a monopoly. Instead, Valve have ignored EA’s online store, until EA tried to effectively set up a store within Valve’s store.

      It’s like a pharmacy that sells a particular brand of cough medicine as well as their generic version. By stocking a competing product, they’re being the opposite of a monopoly. But then the makers of the brand-name medicine try to sneak their own kiosk inside the pharmacy where customers can buy the medicine direct from the makers. Understandably, the pharmacy would be upset and remove the kiosk from the property.

    • ShadyGuy says:

      I’ve bought a couple of games from Origin and added them to my steam game list as non steam games, as to have all my games in one place. As long as I can still do this I’m not too fuzzed about it.
      However, it’d be good if the public got some more info as to why this is happening instead of having to speculate the whole time.

  13. Schadenfreude says:

    The thing is, it would be the easiest thing in the world for Valve to come out and say that EA are lying. Which they haven’t done. So either there’s more of a nugget of truth in EA’s accusation that the games were pulled by Valve or Valve are biding their time before they launch some kind of court-case.

    Personally I don’t really care. Living in Ireland it’s cheaper to import boxed games from the UK than to purchase on Steam or Origin so it’s not like I have any loyalty to either.

    • Jockie says:

      I wouldn’t say it was that easy for them to do so. Whatever the disagreement/motives behind the current trend of EA games being removed from Steam, neither company will want to burn bridges. They’ve had strong partnerships in the past (IIRC retail distribution of L4D was handled for Valve by EA).

      Starting an internet slagging war would be in neither party’s interests.

    • Nielk1 says:

      Don’t forget, the publisher sets the price on Steam. Only Valve games of large foreign price should count as a Steam specific offense.

      The fact fact that new titles allow for DLC to be sold through systems other than Steam, titles post the Crysis 2 removal, indicates that the current thought on the ‘why’ is wrong.

    • Kaira- says:

      Well, no. Valve makes an offer of the price game is sold to publisher, and the negotiations go on from there.

    • Nielk1 says:

      “Well, no. Valve makes an offer of the price game is sold to publisher, and the negotiations go on from there.”

      So they reach an agreement? Duh? Steam wants the game to sell for a price that nets them some sort of profit. As we don’t know what their cut is, we only know it is far far far less than any brick and mortar, we can’t say how much the price matters. Maybe the cut is variable, whom knows. A short email with barely a sentence about price setting can’t really be used to say Steam sets these prices, it just says that Steam suggests a price and a cut.

      AH! Maybe the cuts are case by case?

  14. Mistabashi says:

    I would be very surprised if this (and the similar previous occurences) wasn’t part of EA’s long-term plans for Origin.
    Valve’s “No comment” is a classy move compared to the marketing spin EA regurgitated last time.

    • Diziet Sma says:

      Valve need to comment on this though.

    • amishmonster says:

      They really do. It’s not like the media picked up on it with Crysis 2 and then let it go – it’s been a pretty consistent story with only slight variations. Valve really ought to say what’s going on, even if their usual policy is stoicism and polite silence.

    • Mistabashi says:

      I suspect the reason they aren’t commenting is because A) they don’t want to get publicly involved in a PR slanging-match and B) they don’t want to piss off EA, since regardless of these recent games getting pulled they still do a lot of business with them.

      I reckon EA is very aware of the latter and is capitalising on it. We don’t know what specific terms of Valve’s contract that EA’s games have supposedly been ‘pulled’ for, but theres a bajillion other games on Steam that seem to do the same sort of things as EA’s games do, so my hunch is that EA have deliberately done something that infringes the terms and then spun it for the sake of PR, knowing that Valve will be in a position whereby they can’t comment on it without jeopardising their sales of all the other EA games they still list.

    • The Sentinel says:

      Valve have had ample opportunity to speak up when it really mattered to PC gamers – during the “PC is dying” phase most of all – and failed every time they were asked. What makes you think they give enough of a shit to open their mouths now?

  15. Snesso says:

    I know that people that already had the game will still be keeping it, but what about future updates? Does Steam still support the game and release new updates, or do I have to download them manually elsewhere?

    • gallardo1 says:

      or have you to buy it again? that’s a more interesting question!

      I don’t think Steam will disappear anytime soon (though it surely will then or before), but problem like this one are more likely to happen.

      support drm free games guys!

    • mejoff says:

      Origin registers from a serial number and autopatches, just like Steam. From a practical point of view we, the consumers, lose nothing.

  16. busfahrer says:

    When they say “removed from Steam”… will the game in question remain playable for people who already bought it on Steam?

  17. jezcentral says:

    But neither EA nor Valve are doing anything different from ME1, DAO or ME2.
    If this is a recent T&C change, then which one was it? It must be on public record somewhere.

    Plus, the DLC is very good.

    • cheesetruncheon says:

      The trouble started after Steam Started selling ‘Free to play’ games, which is when they would have changed their ToS. Because they’d have to handle DLC differently.

    • jezcentral says:

      Ah, cheers!

    • Durkonkell says:

      So why isn’t DA:O being booted off, since I can load that up and buy DLC through the game client without involving steam?

      With that said, this all seems very suspicious to me. Have Valve got so bigheaded that they are throwing games off their service, saying “you need us more than we need you!”? Even knowing that EA are setting up their own competitor service and kicking their games off steam is playing right into their hands?

      I love Valve, I really do, but I can’t believe that EA could get away with saying “It’s all Valve’s fault!” without valve even issuing a statement unless… it really is all Valve’s fault. I really hope it’s not though, and they’ll get back to RPS saying something like “The game in question was removed by request of the publisher”.

      Additional: I don’t really want to give ANY money to Bioware/EA for belching out something as half-arsed as DA2, but I probably would have bought a complete edition in a steam sale at some point. That obviously isn’t a possibility any more.

    • Optimaximal says:

      @Durkonkell Older games w. DLC are likely grandfathered, exempt from the change to the ToS. If EA suddenly released new DLC for DA:O, it would probably also result in the game being removed.

  18. Panopticon says:

    This is bullshit on EA’s part. While I advocate using alternative software and programming paradigms for adapting a game on a particular OS (like using OpenGL over DirectX, or, well, Steam over GFWL), it’s ridiculous to engineer an entire content delivery system just for the publisher to vacuum direct profit. This is really what it’s all about, as well as forced dependency of the gamer to EA’s brand name.

    I mean, all of the DLC-related framework shenanigans is already integrated into Steam, so why not use it? Better than coding more third-party bloatware-laden utilities in the final binary, FFS.

    • DAdvocate says:

      @Panopticon did you even read the article? The motive is to retain the estimated 25% cut that steam take. Remember that proportion is taken regardless of the cost of development, so it can massively hurt the profit margin. For example if dev costs equate to half the DLC price, you could double you profit by removing Steams cut.

    • zeroskill says:

      you can type “estimated 25%” in very big letters.

    • ahac says:

      > so why not use it?
      That would mean that they have to use Steamworks with every copy of the game… even those sold on D2D or Impulse and we know how much those guys love to sell games that integrate a competing store.
      It would also mean that most of the DLC would be sold through Steam (with Valve taking their cut) even if the game itself was not.

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      @ahac:
      No, it wouldn’t require Steamworks for all versions. Refer to SSF4:AE: the DLC goes through Steam in the Steam version, through GfWL in other versions.

  19. KillahMate says:

    Hundreds of games on Steam have various content available from outside of the store. This is ridiculous.

  20. Ondrej says:

    There certainly is more to this than we get to see. Let’s just hope this won’t turn against customers.

  21. Flint says:

    Starting to worry about the inevitable fate of Mass Effect 3 now, considering the games have such strong ties between eachother and I’ve got the first two in Steam…

    • YourMessageHere says:

      Whatever happens with ME3, you should still be able to import saves irrespective of where you bought it, as they get saved in the same place (i.e. MY Docs/Bioware, not inside Steam). I mean yes, it’d be best if it were on steam too, but it’ll not affect your eventual continued ME1+2 game if it’s not.

  22. RenegadeRed says:

    Finally, my long-held paranoid beliefs of Steam’s secret plans for Microsoft-scale world domination have paid off. Gabe Newell worked worked for Bill Gates how long, 15 years? I suppose he inevitably learned the value of a monopoly. Haha, just wait till you Steam-o-philes get half your catalog removed because “terms and conditions have changed” or some other such nonsense.

  23. Lars Westergren says:

    I’m guessing Valve are afraid that publishers will get into the habit of selling “inferior” versions of their games via Steam, which in the long run might lessen consumer perception of the store compared to the competition. “Steam? Oh, the place where they sell the crap versions of games.”

    Another problem could be publishers essentially just selling a thin wrapper on Steam to get free advertising on Steam’s frontpage, and once the small executable is started you have to pay for the real game content, with all the profit going to the publisher.

    On a related note, I refuse to buy Minerva’s Den for Bioshock 2 until I can do it through Steam, even though it looks great. On Steam I know there will be max 30 seconds between me deciding to buying it and the transaction being complete. Last time I got involved in Games for Windows I spent 5 hours with CAPTCHA, being forced to enter lots of private information, waiting for mails, being rejected, being redirected to xbox, blank pages, being nagged to get a Hotmail adress instead, etc. The blood pressure spike and angry mood probably shaved days off my life.

    • Juan Carlo says:

      Exactly. As much as I hate this, I really don’t see how steam has any other option. What’s to prevent EA, for example, from releasing a super cheap version of Battlefield 3 on steam, then selling all of the “real” game content through their in game stores? It would essentially be a back door free 2 play model where steam would have to host the game for virtually nothing, while the publishers take all the profits.

      I’m not sure how Valve can be construed as greedy in such a model as they really aren’t charity. If they aren’t getting a sizable cut from hosting the game then they really shouldn’t host.

      I’m not saying that EA is going to do this, but if Valve doesn’t make a hardfast policy, it opens the door for such forms of exploitation in the future from other companies.

      At anyrate, I don’t see how this will benefit the gamer as it really does seem like it’s just starting down the inevitable road to every publisher having their own download service.

    • FataMorganaPseudonym says:

      Since we’re doing nothing but speculating here and all…

      “It would essentially be a back door free 2 play model where steam would have to host the game for virtually nothing, while the publishers take all the profits.”

      (emphasis mine)

      Steam doesn’t have to host anything. If someone pulls that kind of crap, they can and probably will do exactly what they’ve done here with these EA games that suspiciously started having “problems” with Valve’s TOS right around the time that Origin was unveiled: boot them off the service.

  24. kikito says:

    “Let’s also not jump to conclusions.”

    Are you new on the internet?

  25. Out Reach says:

    Original Duels of the planeswalkers (not the new 2012 edition) is gone too… can’t buy myself any card foil dlc (or more importantly the actual real DLC’s that unlock decks :( ).

    • A Pair of Pliers says:

      DotP is still on Steam — they just bundled all the DLCs together into DotP Gold. If you have the base game, you should get a discounted price on the gold pack, too.

    • Xocrates says:

      As A Pair of Pliers said, it’s still there, only now it’s only sold as a complete pack, this was coincidental with the release of 2012 so it was probably intentional.

  26. deejayem says:

    Interestingly (or not) Apple have just done something similar with apps. They’re now refusing to sell apps that allow you to buy further app content outside the app store, which is basically their way of preventing Amazon et al cashing in on e-book sales on the iPhone/iPad etc.

    The times they are a-changing.

    • YourMessageHere says:

      Except, as a zillion people have already said, plenty of games on Steam have done and continue to do exactly this, e.g. via GfWL or ingame shops.

    • Nodja says:

      Two totally different situations. On iOS there is no other way of getting apps for your phone beside the app store (unless you jailbreak it of course), therefore apple controls the whole iOS market and gives people no other choice of distribution channel forcing people to do stuff their way.

      In comparison, steam is just one channel of distribution on the PC, you have other online retailers and many other means of getting something onto your computer.

      Which reminds me, the PC is the only “free” gaming platform, consoles require not only that you buy their SDK, but also have to pay fees to be able to release a game “officially” on their platform [Citation needed] i.e. all distribution channels give a cut to the console company.

  27. Heliosicle says:

    It seems like EA are purposefully doing this so that they don’t have their games on Steam… or they care more about having direct contact with consumers rather than selling more copies.

  28. Tei says:

    The “worst fear” of Valve seems a game companie selling a cars game trought steam, that is very expensive to distribute (lots of problems, big download, etc…) but only cost 4€. Then this game including a shop to buy cars, races, etc… to complete the game is mandatory to buy elements “in-app” to be able to finish the game. So you pay 4€ for the game, then 15€ for a ferrari to use in the game.

    Serve has a “download tool” for other people shops.

    I don’t think is a realistic fear, but I kind of understand that hosting the files of “day 0 dlc’s”. then having the 0% of the sale of such dlc be pocket, is somewhat like paying for a bed, and having other dude using the bed. Bussines don’t usually work like that. And again, I think is exagerated fear

    • TheFatDM says:

      I am not so sure it’s correct to talk about Valves fear here. I think this is a strategic, and correct move, on EAs part due to their fears. I think a comparison could be made to Twitter, Facebook etc and also console manufacturers. In the social apps comparison, FB etc maintain free applications so no third party developer can come to own the customer exclusively. Console manufacturers have/had exclusive deals with developers, not just titles, to make sure they owned the customer. (I know I wanted to be a friend of Sony due to Square being console exclusive, back in the day).

      Well, maybe not the deepest analysis, but thats my thoughts.

  29. bwion says:

    I genuinely do not get the “IF I CANNOT BUY IT THROUGH STEAM, I WILL NEVER EVER BUY IT AT ALL” attitude, though this may just be because I launch everything I buy from shortcuts on my computer (stuck in a folder so my desktop isn’t all cluttery) rather than through the client.

    On the other hand, buying DLC for EA games, or, worse, getting the game to recognize that free/included DLC is legitimately mine, when I bought the original game on Steam, has often been a source of frustration for me, far more so than any problems I’ve ever had with, say, GFWL. So I am choosing to believe, absent any evidence, that the terms and conditions that EA are violating may well just be “have a way of delivering DLC that doesn’t completely suck”.

  30. Axyl says:

    What with Space Marine and Saint’s Row 3rd getting removed from the UK Steam Store recently as well (tho those two games aren’t out yet) this is getting bloody stupid now. :(

  31. Frosty840 says:

    If this is due to the Steam T&Cs forbidding sales of items via other services, then how the bloody hell did Sims 3 ever end up on Steam, with its ingame item store?

    • Optimaximal says:

      It was released prior to the recent ‘DLC’ change in the Publishing Agreement. Of course, come the next content release, it’ll likely disappear into the ether.

    • Durkonkell says:

      Do you actually have a copy of the Publisher Agreement, or is it online somewhere? Because it sounds a lot like you have specific evidence that this really is Valve’s new policy, and I’d like to review that myself.

    • Optimaximal says:

      Nobody has access to it unless they publish stuff and it’s likely under NDA.

      I’m basing everything on what EA have said so far (as they’re the only ones to speak up), the timing of several events (EA products disappearing on the eve of significant DLC releases) and what’s going on with products from other publishers (including Fable 3 suddenly offering all its DLC via Steam, despite the game using Games for Windows: Live).

    • Nielk1 says:

      Apparently, Dirt3, a game released after the supposed ‘ToS’ change, has an in game DLC store. If this is true, EA looks like they are executing some evil plan rather than fighter a bad Steam ‘ToS’ condition.

      What if the DLC would only work if the game was installed by Origin? What if the DLC would only work if the game was BOUGHT from Origin? The truth is that we know NOTHING about this other than what EA says, and EA PR has been shown many times in the past to be a bunch of lies and slander.

      As I am at work and the lunch hour seems quite up, I can’t go looking into the Dirt3 thing, I can only relate what someone else said. If it turns out to be true though, it is a massive stop to all of the current thought and a good reason for pause and consideration.

      Something is afoot here, something is not right. I suggest everyone do what they can to not be a puppet of either party and to try to find evidence of every oddity. We might not be able to prove what is going on, but we certainly can prove what is not, empirically.

    • Hematite says:

      @Nielk1: I’m with you on this one; this whole affair has the stench of business politics. I spend enough time near businesspeople to know that you NEVER badmouth a business partner unless you intend to never work with them again – and badmouthing is exactly what this business about ‘broken TOS’ is.

      Everything I’ve heard makes sense if we assume that EA wants to leave Steam entirely and use their own service (Origin). They couldn’t just pull all their content from Steam without looking like massive douches (snide remarks left as an exercise to the reader), so some bright spark with an MBA decided to use the DLC terms of service as an excuse to leave Steam while making Valve look like the bad guys.

      You can be sure that if EA wanted to be on Steam they would either massage their DLC to meet the TOS, or cut a deal with Valve for altered TOS. If both parties want it, the deal gets made and it’s just the details that are negotiated. If EA was trying to bluff Steam for better terms (“Oops, you accidentally banned our games with your draconian TOS, maybe you should give us A BIGGER CUT”) they would be making statements about what a regrettable circumstance it is, and the removal is only temporary while the legal teams amicably sort out the fine print in the latest version of the agreements.

      Instead they’re making Valve out to be the bad guys, which implies that they never want back into Steam. How convenient that they have their own store now!

      It seems that the terms of service for distributing games through steam are not publicly available* – it makes sense, especially if the terms are agreed separately with each publisher. Probably more influential publishers get significantly better deals, and if that was public knowledge it would screw up the rest of Valves negotiations. I imagine Valve are keeping quiet in the media due to policy about not commenting on licensing specifics, and shouting a lot in private negotiations with EA.

      * Where’s Cliffski? I’m sure he’s not allowed to tell us about his agreement with Valve, but it would be fascinating if he could tell us something about the precise rules of what he’s not allowed to tell us!

  32. Carra says:

    This looks very similar to Apple’s system for iPhone’s. You cannot add an in-game buy button which allows you to buy directly from the developers without paying the insane 30% costs to Apple.

    • Starky says:

      30% is far from insane, in fact it is pretty damn reasonable – in any other method of retail (physical, or mail order – which is basically the same thing really), you’d be lucky to get 30% – smaller companies would probably only see 10% of RRP (the rest going to the stores and publisher).

      Of course every company wants to keep 100% of any and all profit, but 30% is a reasonable fee as these things go, if they want to make money from an Apple product, they need to pay Apple their percentage.
      Just how if EA want to make money off Steam they need to pay Valve their percentage.

      If they don’t like it they are free to NOT make and sell things for apple products, just like EA are free not to sell games on Steam.

  33. qrter says:

    Here is what I do not get in regard to this article – as far as I know, the new DA2 DLC is not bought ingame.

    When you hit the ‘new DLC’ button, it starts up the webpage on the Bioware Community site where you can buy the Legacy DLC using Bioware Points. You then download an exe of about 850Mb and install it – this is all outside of the game. You do have to be logged in ingame, the DLC is linked to your EA account.

    • Durkonkell says:

      That… is very interesting.

      This means that one of the primary assumptions – that the ‘new TOS’ disallowed games that sold DLC in the game client without involving steam – is invalid, doesn’t it?

    • Optimaximal says:

      The problem is you cannot click a link in the Steam Store to buy the DLC from Valve.

  34. Ucodia says:

    For the few last years, DLC have been a large revenue for publishers and for Steam. Just look at the success Borderlands and Black Ops DLC had. Also recent news shown us that some new games would be released as “Free 2 Play”, redirecting revenues through micro-payments.

    A new trend is showing up and spreading fast. Therefore Valve is taking measures to preserve its revenues. Following this new trend, tomorrow any publisher can release their game $25 instead of $50 and then sell additional contents through an in-game shop, in the same time cutting Steam revenue by 50%. That is not so unrealistic I think.

  35. Jimbo says:

    Personally, I’m fine with having to buy games and content direct from the source. Steam aren’t doing anything for me which deserves ~30% of the purchase price, so I’d rather all (or some) of that money go to whoever is releasing the game. If the source overprices their own stuff (which it looks like EA are going to do with TOR) then I just won’t buy it at all – there are plenty of competitors’ games to play.

  36. Tony M says:

    Surely the best outcome for gamers, is if we get to the point that we can buy all Valves games (and DLC) on Origin and all EAs games (and DLC) on Steam. Then they can compete on service and price instead of artificial exclusives.

  37. Brutal Deluxe says:

    This is no different from Apple’s policy on in-app purchases. Their reason for doing it is so that you can’t distribute a free bit of software which then becomes upgradeable for a fee, with Apple excluded from any of the monies.

  38. Deano2099 says:

    Yep, Apple do it for in-app purchases. The problem is this needs individual case-by-case consideration. Because just blanketly allowing it is open for abuse. I can easily see EA selling Dragon Age 3 for £5 on Steam with a £25 DLC which contains the last 3/4s of the game.

  39. CerberuX says:

    I hope this crap gets resolved soon. It’s starting to get really annoying to me. I view Steam as a virtual shelf with all my games on it, to keep getting games from other sources to me is comparable to having to get on a train, go to someone elses house, pick up my game, bring it back home, play it then have to take it back. It might sound a little weird or a bit of an over exaggeration but to me it is exactly that, a pain. Even if something better comes along I’ll most likely stick with my current “shelf of games”. It isn’t that bad at the minute with what, 2 games is it? Crysis 2 and DA2? But if this is the start of many.. ugh. Not sure who is to blame but I’ve never felt screwed over by Valve yet so EA is currently leaving a bad taste in my mouth. Hope it gets sorted.

    I can’t see this as a move for Origin though, cause they keep giving Steam the better deals purposefully screwing Origin over, case and point Alice Madness Returns, £30 Steam, £35 Origin. £40 BF3 currently and what was it £45 for TOR if I remember correctly…….. Hmm..

    • mejoff says:

      Sorry what?

      Minimise Steam (assuming it’s open), Open games shortcut folder or Origin/other platform, run game. 5 clicks tops, including double clicks.

      You consider this even vaguely comparable to going to someone else’s house a trainride away?

      What?

      And where does having to take it back come from? You close the game and…

      What?

      I’m sorry but this is one of the stupidest arguments I’ve ever read on any subject ever.

  40. DK says:

    Anything that screws over DLC is fine with me. Fuck that hideous trend and may it die in a fire as soon as possible.

  41. BobsLawnService says:

    I’m thinking Valve have very good technical reasons for this. For example how do they validate installs when third parties change files? They can’t to a binary diff of files if they keep changing. This is just off the top of my head.

    • IDtenT says:

      Fucking finally. Someone gets it.

    • Nielk1 says:

      I think this is already an issue with some games. Don’t a lot of the F2P games use their own internal update mechanisms rather than the built in? Doesn’t “Wings of Prey” use a Steam-esc sub-client of its own to update and thus modify from the way Steam base files are?

      I am expecting to find that we are all looking at the wrong things on this issue and that something entirely different is afoot.

    • Wooly Wugga Wugga says:

      Two pages of rampant conspiracy theories and bullshit beofre someone takes a rational approach.

    • BobsLawnService says:

      Nielk1:

      I’m approaching this from a software engineers point of view so bear with me.

      The recent changes to Steam that allow patches to be much smaller means that they use a binary diff to determine what has changed. This means that they compare the ones and zeros of the old files and only. Ship those that change and the information required to put them in the right place. If even a single one is out of place the whole thing fails. If Steam doesn’t have full control of all versions they open themselves up for huge problems. In the past Steam have shipped whole files or even whole games as patches so they might have gotten away with third party Shennanigans (Although I doubt it.). This would explain them changing their terms and conditions dealing with this sort of thing recently.

      I wish RPS had done some research and raised the possibility of this before posting this. It might have saved a lot of people from having to wade through 300 comments of “OMG Steam/EA are EEEVVVVIIIIILLLLLL!” Comments.

    • Kaira- says:

      So… what would this mean to mods and modding on Steam?

    • Hematite says:

      @Kaira:
      Probably not much. Most mods are separate external files which the main game deliberately loads up for extra content. There are only a few mods which actually alter existing files (usually mods which go beyond what existing toolkits allow), and they tend to be a problem with Steam already.

      The one that comes to mind is Nehrim for Oblivion – it overwrites some of the base game files, and I never got the damn thing working with Steam Oblivion.

    • Hematite says:

      @BobsLawnService:

      It would be more complicated, but not much really. As long as the game registered its version number (and DLC, if it modified the base files) correctly with Steam, Steam should still be able to pick the correct binary patch from the half dozen or so possible alternatives. If EA wanted their games on Steam they would make it work, through technical solutions or negotiation with Valve.

    • BobsLawnService says:

      Hematite, it sounds easy enough on a forum but to co-ordinate release management with dozens of large companies like that would be a nightmare. If you were Valve would you be willing to risk the wrath of hundreds of thousands of disgruntled gamers who find themselves unable to play a game for a week because someone didn’t get a memo?

  42. The Sentinel says:

    You’ve got to feel a little sorry for Valve, really. They go to all the trouble of showing the rest of the industry how to run PC Gaming as a profitable (and fun) enterprise…and as soon as that message gets through to everyone else they suddenly turn around and want a piece of the lucrative pie they didn’t just abandon but actively worked hard to destroy.

    What pisses me off most is that everyone now wants to be top dog, creating chaos for the consumer in the process, rather than all getting together and really creating a future PC gamers can be proud of. It’s pathetic.

    • Zogtee says:

      It is pathetic, I agree. A lot of people sneered and mocked Steam for years, and now those people are falling all over themselves in a hurry to grab a bit of cash.

      Regardless, I expect this trend to continue. EA’s claim that they want to sell their games through as many channels as possible really means as many channels as possible, except Steam. They’ve had it in for Valve and Steam for years and it’s no coincidence that they decided to make their push now, with TOR as a battering ram. Expect shit to get even uglier when Plants Vs Zombies 2 and other future Popcap games make a non-appearance on Steam.

      It would be interesting to know what sort of sales hit DA2 and Crysis 2 took when they disappeared from Steam, but we will of course never get to hear genuine numbers.

  43. jezcentral says:

    What I don’t understand is not why DA2 is off Steam, but why DAO, ME1 & 2 are still on it.

    • Optimaximal says:

      Because those games have been grandfathered, released before Valve changed the Publishing Agreement.

      If new DLC was released now, they’d disappear almost immediately.

    • jezcentral says:

      Has it really been that long since The Arrival? Blimey, yes it has!

  44. gtb says:

    …And nothing of value was lost.

  45. mickiscoole says:

    My theory is that when Valve changed the T&Cs for steam to allow for steam to handle free to play games, they added a clause that all the dlc and transactions in those games would have to use steamworks, otherwise there would be no point to covering the cost of putting it on steam for it to be sold for free and all the revenue goes via a different system.
    And maybe Valve didn’t specify that it was only for Free to play games, and all EA are doing is interpreting the T&Cs differently to the rest of the publishers and trying to avoid risk down the track.

    To be honest, Valve’s T&Cs are usually fairly scary documents.

    • shoptroll says:

      If that’s the case, any game using GFWL for DLC going forward wouldn’t be in the store.

      Which would mean no Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition

    • Hatsworth says:

      Shoptroll:
      GFWL DLC for SSFIVAE actually doesn’t work for the Steam version. Capcom has stated that it will be released directly on Steam eventually. They’re taking their sweet time though.

    • shoptroll says:

      @Hatsworth:

      That’s interesting and would explain why Fable III DLC is offered in the Steam Store as well.

      I wonder how much effort it would take EA to do the same with their games? Assuming we’re still talking about 20-30% cut to Valve… We’re looking at less than the cost of a sandwich in terms of what they’d give Valve for each transaction. Hardly anything for EA to get their knickers in a knot over.

      Then again, this is the same company that recently declared open war on pre-owned game sales with Project $10.

  46. Calabi says:

    I hate Valve now. I dont understand why they would do this.

    • Nielk1 says:

      The complete lack of information and wild guessing by everyone probably doesn’t help. Who knows, maybe Steam is protecting us from some evil practice EA wants to do. Or maybe Steam is in he wrong.

      There is evidence contrary to the current thought on why, and evidence for. We just don’t know what is actually going on and the unknown is feared and hated.

  47. shoptroll says:

    Alec, why are mommy and daddy fighting all the time? It makes me uncomfortable.

    I love the smell of FUD in the morning. It smells like… desperation.

    I’m going to call BS on this. If it was due to in-game downloading they’d have yanked The Sims 3 (which has a microtransaction store) and DA:O (which pulls its DLC from the EA servers after you purchase it on BioWare’s website) at the same time they pulled Crysis 2. If it’s about DLC being run through other download services, Steam would’ve pulled games like Arkham Asylum, Street Fighter IV and Bulletstorm, since they use GFWL.

    It’s pretty clear Ricitello (who I might add is probably on his way out if he doesn’t manage to get EA’s stock price back up to where it was before he became CEO) is trying to drive a wedge into Steam by pulling out select titles under the guise of DLC in order to drive gamers to Origin. Valve’s fairly secretive about the sausage making with Steam, so I don’t think they have much incentive to fire back. There’s a little list in the Steam forums about games which have been removed from the store and there’s rarely been much public comment if someone decides to pull their titles. I’d also wager that despite the brand recognition, EA doesn’t represent a large amount of business for Valve these days. Most EA games drop off the Top Sellers list after a few weeks, and while they do participate in the regular sales they’re not usually some of the biggest sales. Why care about EA when you have plenty of smaller games like Terraria which have a higher amount of staying power?

    It would be nice if Valve would comment on the situation, but maybe it might be more productive to have John start asking around to see if there actually was a change to the distribution agreement. Someone is bound to have either loose lips or an axe to grind (Randy Pitchford maybe although I can’t imagine he’s that unhappy with Valve with DNF staying in the top spot for a while).

    • shoptroll says:

      Upon poking around the BioWare social, it does look like DA 2 is using a similar setup to DA:O in terms of purchasing / downloading. Buy at BioWare, game downloads when you launch it.

  48. Deano2099 says:

    One has to wonder if people who already own DA2 on Steam will be able to continue to update it that way too.

  49. kyrieee says:

    Good riddance

  50. Deano2099 says:

    And to throw out another idea, it might not be that Valve don’t allow the sale of DLC outside of Steam, it might just be that they only allow the sale of DLC outside of Steam IF that DLC is also available through Steam.

    That’s actually a much more reasonable position to take, and in theory better for the consumer: they have choice, they can get everything in one place or do it directly. It’s not saying “you can’t sell direct”, but rather “you can, but you also have to sell through us”

    AI War does this, for example.

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