Well that wasn't particularly surprising. Origin will be required to run all PC versions of Mass Effect 3 - both boxed retail and digital download - although activation will only require a one-off connection and you'll only need a constant internet connection in order to get stuck in to the multiplayer, which is nice.
Not a good day for Steam fans, although the relationship between EA and Valve's marketplace had already started running into trouble back in October last year, so this wasn't exactly a huge surprise. Once again, the issue appears to be Steam's terms and conditions:
"During initial release Mass Effect 3 will be available on Origin and a number of other 3rd party digital retailers, but not on Steam at this time," said BioWare's Chris Priestly. "Steam has adopted a set of restrictive terms of service which limit how developers interact with customers to deliver patches and other downloadable content. We are intent on providing Mass Effect to players with the best possible experience no matter where they purchase or play their game, and are happy to partner with any download service that does not restrict our ability to connect directly with our consumers."
Priestly also responded to allegations that Origin was a form of spyware and deployed nefarious executable files on innocent consumers' PCs.
"Origin is not spyware," he said, "and does not use or install spyware on user’s machines. In order to allow Origin to install games and their patches for everyone to use, Origin implements a permission change that results in Windows, not Origin, reviewing the filenames in the ProgramData/Origin folder. This is an ordinary Windows function, not an information-gathering process."
Vocal forum-dwelling gamers, being the cool, calm and collected bunch that they are, naturally kicked off a bit, with 200+ pages of bile and invective, but also some genuine concerns. We're not entirely sure what the situation is regarding Steam save game files from previous titles and their potentially integration (or failure thereof) with Origin's ME3. Priestly did produce a further post, though, plainly stating that the blame for this mess should be left at Steam's door:
"I really do not accept the criticism that WE, BioWare and EA, are wrong for not offering it on Steam. We would like to offer it on Steam. We used to have a good relationship with Steam. The more stores and digital retailers who sell our games, the more customers can buy the games and the money we can make. We are working with digital retailers like Direct2Drive and others so we are not Origin exclusive by any means. Unfortunately, Steam changed their policies and we are currently not able to come to an agreement that allows us to be on Steam. We were on Steam for ME2. We were on Steam for Dragon Age II until we had to remove it, again because Steam changed their policies. We would be on Steam now if their policies allowed us to be there. I do not know if a significant number of fans complaining to Steam that they want Mass Effect 3 to be on Steam will have an effect or not, but it certainly will not hurt. Steam is a great service and I would hope that we will work with them if it becomes possible for us to do so."
The issue, of course, has to do with DLC, the distribution of that DLC and compatibility (or, again, lack thereof) with Steam-bought products. Still, it could be worse. Origin could be Games for Windows LIVE.