Ready for Mass Effect 3 to launch this March? If you're planning to purchase the game on PC you'll need to download a copy of Electronic Arts' Origin digital distribution client, because it looks like the game won't be available on Valve Software's Steam service at launch. After rumors began to circulate that Mass Effect 3 would not be available for purchase on Steam (as has been the case with EA’s recent PC releases such as Battlefield 3) Bioware’s community coordinator Chris Priestly took to the Bioware forums to clear up rumors and address your concerns about the PC release of Mass Effect 3.
Given recent developments in digital rights management like Ubisoft’s always-connected DRM and the launch of EA’s Origin service, plenty of gamers have been curious about what restrictions (if any) EA would place on the PC version of Mass Effect 3. Priestly addressed these concerns in a BioWare forum post, stating that “During initial release Mass Effect 3 will be available on Origin and a number of other third-party digital retailers, but not on Steam at this time.” Priestly toed the traditional EA party line regarding digital distribution, claiming that Mass Effect 3's absence on the Steam service is due to Steam's restrictive terms of service that prevent game publishers from interacting with their customers in the way they want.
Priestly also confirmed that players must install EA's Origin client to play all PC copies of the game, whether downloaded digitally or purchased through a physical retailer. This statement makes the move away from Steam seem like a strategic push for better profit margins, as was the case with EA’s removal of Crysis 2 and Dragon Age 2 from Steam last year. Thankfully, Priestly clarified that “Mass Effect 3 will require a one time, single authorization for the single player game. There is no limit to the number of installs,” meaning that –unlike Ubisoft’s DRM solution– the game only needs to be authorized once and can then be played offline indefinitely; of course, the new multiplayer modes available in Mass Effect 3 will still (obviously) require a constant Internet connection.
While inconvenient for gamers, this might not be terrible news; the sales of Battlefield 3 on PC did not seem to be hindered by requiring players to use EA's Origin service so it's hard to predict what impact similar measures will have on the sales of Mass Effect 3 for PC.