OFFICIAL: Battlefield 3 will not be available through Steam

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Battlefield-3-Reveal-GDC-2011.jpgIt’s official; EA will not be distributing their massively anticipated war shooter Battlefield 3 through Steam, Valve’s digital game store that has become by far the most popular PC online game purchasing platform.

EA have made this decision as they felt Valve’s service restricted their ability to “directly support players,” according to a post on their official forum.

“In doing so, our goal is to not only reach the widest possible global audience with our games, but also to provide ongoing customer support, patches and great new content,” the publisher said.

“We are intent on providing Battlefield 3 players with the best possible experience no matter where they purchase or play the game, and are happy to partner with any download service that does not restrict our ability to connect directly with consumers.

“Unfortunately, Steam has adopted a set of restrictive terms of service which limit how developers interact with customers to deliver patches and other downloadable content. No other download service has adopted these practices.

“We hope to work out an agreement where Steam can carry Battlefield 3; meanwhile, gamers can pick from the more than 100 digital retailers.”

The crux of the argument? It seems that EA want to be solely in charge of patches and in-game DLC distribution. If sold through Steam, Battlefield’s DLC would have to be sold through Valve’s store front (meaning Valve would get a cut of the downloadable purchase), as well as letting Valve handle patches through Steam. This works fine for most developers, but in this case it looks as though EA want complete control.

I’m a big fan of the way Steam automatically rolls out game-fixing patches as soon as they become available, but at the end of the day this isn’t that big of a deal really. You’ll still be able to get Battlefield 3 through the traditional physical retail channels, as well as over “100 digital retailers”.

What’s more intriguing though is the on-going war between Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3 in the marketing stakes. EA are trying to topple the COD king of FPS games this year with Battlefield 3’s release, but are surely hamstringing sales by not making the game available through the super-popular Steam. By doing so, they’ve almost certainly surrendered an attempt at the war shooter throne this year, at least on PCs.

Gerald Lynch

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