We’ve heard a few times before that Battlefield 3 might make its way to the popular game service Steam, with EA and Valve reportedly in negotiations over the past month. Now new evidence has emerged that might give us some hope in seeing Battlefield 3 on Steam after all.
The new evidence comes from the latest Punkbuster update, which includes a new install directory at “C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\SteamApps\common\battlefield 3\“, in addition to the Origin install directory. This is by no means a conclusive piece of evidence, but it does bring some hope in seeing Battlefield 3 on Steam in the near future.
EA has released Battlefield 3 on dozens of digital distribution services, with the exception of Steam, which places restrictions on publishers regarding downloadable content and expansion packs — the main reason EA decided against offering Battlefield 3 on Steam.
Via Kotaku. Thanks, Will!
According to an anonymous report BF3Blog received from inside Valve, the developer/publisher is currently in late-stage talks with EA in bringing Battlefield 3 to the Steam digital distribution service. The rumor says that Battlefield 3 would be available on Steam just in time for the game’s release on October 25.
According to the report, EA and Valve are very close to reaching an agreement regarding sales of DLC content, which is the main reason Battlefield 3 is not on Steam: Valve requires that all DLC is sold through Steam, while EA would prefer to sell via its own channels. This was the cause of another EA title, Crysis 2, for being pulled from Steam earlier this year.
Many PC gamers have lobbied both EA and Valve to put Battlefield 3 on Steam for a while now. It looks like it’ll finally happen soon.
We’ve reached out to EA and Valve for a comment on this story.
There has been some confusion over how EA’s new Origin service will be integrated into Battlefield 3. Battlelog plays a big part, with the ability to browse servers and join a game directly from the browser. But according to DICE’s Daniel Martos, Origin will be required in order to play Battlefield 3 if the game is bought in retail. We don’t know whether this is true if the game is downloaded through a digital download service other than Origin, but we suspect Origin will be required no matter what.
This isn’t a big surprise, as many games these days require a client to run in the background, most notably games from Valve, where Steam is required. However, it can become an issue if the client is draining CPU power, which was the case with Origin during the Battlefield 3 alpha trial. Of course, it was only an alpha, so many tweaks and fixes are bound to happen. Another issue is memory usage among these clients, both Steam and Origin appear to use somewhere around 50 MB of memory during a game (but that can depend on the game and other system specs).
Last week, EA confirmed that Battlefield 3 would not be released on Steam due to certain Steam rules where DLC and patches must be provided via Steam.
After months of wondering whether the whole debacle between Valve and EA would mean no Battlefield 3 on Steam, we’ve finally got it confirmed: EA has announced that BF3 will not be on Steam, and they’ve given their reason in a forum post to fans:
“Gamers can pre-order Battlefield 3 at Origin.com as well as over 100 digital retailers worldwide. EA offers games to all major download services. 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.”
Steam’s terms of service were the reason why Crysis 2 was removed from the digital retailer earlier this year (later, more games were removed). Many speculated, including us, that it was simply EA trying to promote Origin, but this proved to be false, after Battlefield 3 was revealed to be available on many digital retailers across the globe.
Many gamers were waiting to pre-order Battlefield 3 until it was available on Steam, but this looks to have been a waste of time. Despite the bleak news, EA says that they are hoping to work out an agreement with Steam.
Last week, game analyst predicted that the lack of Battlefield 3 on Steam would cost EA 100,000 BF3 copies less sold.
By all accounts, we won’t be seeing Battlefield 3 on Steam, to many gamers’ dismay (including ours). Game analyst Michael Pachter, whom we’ve heard from several times here on BF3Blog, answered a question during his latest Pach-Attack! show, concerning Battlefield 3 and how much in sales it would cost EA not to offer it on Steam.
Pachter predicts total sales of 8 million for Battlefield 3, with 10% of the sales happening on the PC platform. That’s 800,000 units, and he believes that Steam would have accounted for half of that — 400,000. Since it’s not on Steam, EA’s Origin will be offering BF3, but Pachter still believes that EA will take a hit if about 100,000 copies — 100,000 copies less sold if Battlefield 3 is not on Steam.
This isn’t a big deal, financially speaking. Many expect BF3 sales to top 10 million, and a loss of 100,000 represents only 1% of the total sales. We can imagine the vast majority of PC gamers who are disappointed about lack of Steam support will eventually buy the game, either via Origin, or another download service, or get in retail.
One things that surprised us about Pachter’s prediction is that PC would only account for 10% of the sales — this seems quite low, as Bad Company 2 has seen somewhere around 2.5 million units sold on PC, out of 9 million in total. In other words, PC sales represented a 27% take. With the anticipation and marketing money behind Battlefield 3, it’s easy to see it sell far more then the 800,000 units on PC that Pachter estimates.
There has been a lot of doubt whether EA would release Battlefield 3 on Steam. Today EA revealed a list of digital retailers around the world where gamers will be able to purchase Battlefield 3, and the big omission was Steam. This adds to the uncertainty of whether we’ll ever see Battlefield 3 on Steam, which is by far the biggest and most popular digital games distributor in the world.
It all started a few weeks ago when EA removed Crysis 2 from Steam and instead added it to its own service, EA Origin. From a business perspective, it makes sense for EA to offer Battlefield 3 on its own distribution, since Steam usually takes around 25% of the cut. However, many of Steam’s competing services, like Direct2Drive and Gamersgate, are listed, so this could be something just between EA and Steam.
According to GamaSutra, who interviewed EA Origin’s David DeMatrini, there is some conflict between EA and Steam, although DeMartini didn’t clarify on that. He said it was “interesting that some of the ways they’ve [Steam] built their business are specifically some of the areas of conflict between us on a going forward basis”.
Steam is bigger than Direct2Drive, GamersGate, GameStop’s Impulse combined — without a doubt a huge chunk of Battlefield 3 digital sales would come from Steam. If EA is saying no to the kind of sales Steam can provide, it’s pretty obvious that the conflict and disagreements between EA and Valve run deep.
While it’s not certain that we’ll never see Battlefield 3 on Steam, it doesn’t look good the way things are now. Hopefully this will get sorted out soon, as in the end, both EA, Steam, and gamers stand to lose something.