EA Snubbing Steam for Battlefield 3 Launch?

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You say hello, EA says goodbye, or maybe just "take that, Valve." The Battlefield 3 publisher put up a list of digital distributors set to sell its modern-military first-person shooter at launch this October, and guess who wasn't included.

Or maybe leaving Steam off the page was just an oversight. The page (noticed by Joystiq) is currently throwing up a 404 error.

But assuming the snub was intentional, it probably has to do with the recent EA/Valve kerfuffle between EA's dossier of digitally sold games and Steam's terms and conditions. That whole mess hit the public airwaves when sci-fi shooter Crysis 2 inexplicably disappeared from Steam mid-June. Everyone assumed EA yanked the game, until EA said it hadn't.

"It's unfortunate that Steam has removed Crysis 2 from their service," said EA in a statement at the time. "This was not an EA decision or the result of any action by EA."

According to EA, Steam "imposed" sale terms that conflicted with Crysis 2's (EA refers to agreements Crysis 2 has with other download services), culminating in its "expulsion" from Steam (again, by Valve, not EA).

EA's not entirely free of suspicion here. It sounds like the rub had to do with downloadable content specifically contracted to not appear on Steam, which prompted Valve to yank impacted EA titles entirely. The timing of the disagreement also roughly coincides with EA's launch of its own rival distribution service, Origin, last month. Origin tops the list of Battlefield 3 digital distribution services, a list that includes other majors like GamersGate and Direct2Drive.

But not Steam, or at least not currently. This, despite EA's claims that Origin is not a Steam competitor (except that: please EA, of course it is).

While Valve's been habitually coy about Steam-related issues and disputes, EA's a bit more direct, spinning its position on digital distribution as a matter of "choice."

We want our products in all the places gamers go to download the best games and services," writes the publisher on its support site. "To that end, we offer games to EVERY major download service including Amazon, Walmart, Gamestop, and Steam... Every download site that hosts our games sets business terms for our relationship. These terms are often complex, but the goal is to provide a hassle-free experience for the gamer."

And here's the obvious Steam reference: "However, when a download service forbids publishers from contacting players with patches, new levels, items and other services - it disrupts our ability to provide the ongoing support players expect from us. At present, this is the case with only one download service. While EA offers its entire portfolio to this site, they have elected to not post many of our games. We hope to find a mutually agreeable solution to this issue soon."

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