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Valve/Steam vs EA/Origin


The NZA
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so, this discussion happens all over the net - a week or so back, i was half-awake discussing why id rather not use Origin with gunsmith and bishopcruz, who seemed baffled by what strikes me as simple logic, so i thought i'd try it here. Being that they're libertarians/corporate apologists, I assumed this was their default stance, but the two genuinely didn't seem to understand why one should be favored, so i thought i'd throw some points out here and get a conversation going.

 

To begin: they're both Digital Download/distribution networks, so gun oddly argues that he treats all his purchases there as "rentals" - since the EULA has vague, likely indefensible claims within, he posits to "own" games on neither service. It's an interesting approach, but I can't see investing in nearly 300 games now with this mentality. Here's a brief list of known ways in which you can lose access to your games to either service:

 

both: If they close tomorrow, or are eaten by another company that has to sort licensing rights, as D2D is experiencing with Gamefly now owning them. Given that EA is among the biggest, and Valve is not only privately owned but still among the most profitable, both feel quite far-fetched, though I suppose in the long term this option must be considered. I'm in agreement with both of them that the rumor/idea of Gabe "flipping a switch should they go under" and removing the store's mild DRM is both unfounded and pretty much impossible, as well.

 

Steam: Never ever chargeback - it's not something you should do before contacting a vendor in the first place (as they lose both the $ and the product, ive had this happen on ebay and it sucks) but the bggest problem they have here, aside from needing better customer care, is the fact that chargebacks can lock you from your entire account. I've read this can be fixed, but it takes effort, and is something they should address.

 

Origin: 1) getting banned on EA's forums bans can ban you from all your games, even single player ones. I can't stress enough how weak gun's equivocation is here: EA has been continually lying about this problem, and it still persists. read the links; there's people who were banned for quoting other members (or not even being involved), and this precedent strikes me as horrendous.

 

2) says one of GAF's wisest mods:

 

Origin's already had reports of banning people who modify their in-game credits for ME3, and banning bans you from all your other games and multiplayer services through Origin. So it's basically playing with fire.

 

this is all before you consider the problems of their EULA and its clause that you can be charged a fee to download games a year or two later (a bit fuzzy as there's varying claims here, i think this will be highlighted more as origin's service ages).

 

 

Now, with any such service, a modicum of faith is required, clearly - so, for the sake of argument, we're focusing on this dichotomy rather than the swath of other great options, from GOG, to amazon, to impulse, to green man, etc. However, i think a company's history with its associates and clientele are worth considering, so here's my quick & dirty take, which you're welcome to argue with:

 

Valve

+ Picked up PC gaming after MS (and companies like EA) fucked it to death and left it DRM'd and irrelevant for a while, and by working with devs/publishers, created a flourishing scene for both indies and major publishers, while listening to its customers and constantly improving their service.

+ privately owned, meaning they dont have to appease short-sighted stockholders with draconian DRM

+ constant work to cross over to mac/other platforms

+ pioneered blocking 0 day piracy while most companies were still saying PC gamers were all pirates

 

- while it's one of the least invasive forms, steam is still DRM, and there've been reports of trouble with offline mode (though I havent encountered this).

- they built this by tying Half-Life 2 to steam accounts, which Origin apologists say EA is also doing. I personally don't weigh these the same, given the 7+ years of distance here, but it's a point.

likewise, some say Valve not releasing their games on other platforms is just as anti-competitive - ive they've recently started doing just this, but i agree it was overdue.

 

EA

+ Have one of the strongest PC libraries from the 90s (which they largely do not offer on their own service, or GOG/etc)

+ gunsmith likes reminding people they started 2 new IPs back in like 2008 (they were both good, too)

+ bishopcruz says their customer service is good

 

- they have an awful track record of anti-consumer activities from SecureROM to on-disc DLC (the latter obviously worse than the former). Additionally, they have one of the shortest periods of maintaining servers for their online games, even P2P ones close with 2 years if not sooner, from what ive read.

- likewise they have a long track record of acquiring & gutting studios, here's a fun list:

 

* 2001: Bullfrog Productions in Surrey, England - acquired in 1995

* 2002: EA Seattle in Seattle, Washington - formerly Manley & Associates, acquired in 1996

* 2003: Westwood Studios in Las Vegas, Nevada - acquired in 1998

* 2003: EA Pacific (known for a time as Westwood Pacific) in Irvine, California - formerly part of Virgin Interactive, acquired with Westwood in 1998

* 2004: Origin Systems in Austin, Texas - acquired in 1992

* 2004: Maxis in Walnut Creek, California - acquired in 1997, moved to Redwood City

* 2006: DICE Canada in London, Ontario (created Battlefield 2: Special Forces expansion, Battlefield Vietnam, and all BF2 patches). Acquired DICE fully October 2, 2006; closed DICE Canada studio hours later.

* 2007: EA Chicago in Chicago, Illinois. Closed due to failure to meet profit targets.

 

let's not forget Pandemic. Bish rationalized a few of these, but not very well.

 

honestly, i think it's about a lot more than people not liking EA for similar reasons to Activision (milking licenses/creative bankruptcy stuff, or just being massive etc); one company has a history of fostering PC gaming, the other spent the greater part of the last decade taking a dumb on it. This doesn't inspire me to look past the waves of bannings (or excuse vavle's chargeback problems, natch). I'm simply arguing that if i can do without Origin, as a consumer, i'd prefer that.

 

Mind you: nothing wrong at all if you just want to play BF3/ME3/etc, that's your choice and im not judging, i just don't dig the really weak equivocation that there's no difference between these 2 companies, and they both should instill the same level of confidence from a consumer.

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It's a fact that you can lose access to your purchased Origin game library for alleged speech violations on their forum. I hear people say "well, then don't talk". That seems like it should be a libertarian sticking point to me. It's like if your car could be taken away for cursing in a dealership, and the sensible response was "well, better not curse then".

 

If their customer service is great, then they're the victim of a widespread smear campaign and a grand conspiracy. Seemingly unrelated chat logs and screenshots being doctored and posted by the thousands daily. No doubt perpetrated by secret Valve employees.

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The biggest thing for me between Steam and Origin is that I semi-Trust Steam. When Gabe says he will flip a switch and make all games DRM-free IF Steam were to ever close, I actually think he will, or at least try and offer some sort of compromise. EA on the other hand I think would do everything to keep you from getting those games.

 

The thing with ALL of these models is everyone is waitng for some place to fail to see what will happen. Because I garauntee if a big name digital distributor were to close and everyone who thought they had bought a game LOST all of it, then they will fuck the rest of the industry as people will suddenly realize that they really don't own these games even though they paid for them. It won't hurt only that distributor that closed, but every other

 

The real reason I am not worried about losing my games IF Steam were to shut down is because...

1. I have most of the games I own, backed up on an external

2. I have the ability to get Steam cracks for most of the games meaning I won't need Steam, if they were to just close their doors and say "Fuck you" to their customers.

 

GoG.Com is what all of these digital distributors should be doing. DRM-Free games. But in the meantime when it comes to choosing between the two (Steam v. Origin) I am going to back the guys who are friendly, offer FREE DLC for their own games, and at least TRY to be as uninvasive as possible. Maybe it is because Steam is privately owned (and you better believe I will definately buy stock when they go public) but they at least seem like they are trying to listen to their customers. Now there are plenty of people who bitch and may or may not have been fucked by Steam, but in my own experience of years and hundreds of games and thousands of hours spent playing those games Steam has rarely ever let me down.

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  • 1 month later...

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Update: We have received the following statement from EA: "Rock Band for iOS will remain live - the in-app message users received yesterday was sent in error. We apologize for the confusion this caused. We're working to clarify the issue that caused the error and will share additional information as soon as possible.

 

a F.A.Q. wrote itself in error! just like that error that keeps getting forum users banned from their origin accounts, right EA?

ahaha...never change. for real though; DD services are about trust, and you have not earned that.

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