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EA's Origin and Ubisoft's uPlay Ganging Up On Steam

Quick! Valve needs a tag team partner!

Steam is so convenient, so useful and regularly cheap enough that many won’t even bother looking elsewhere for a digitally distributed PC game. But the world’s biggest publishers don’t like Valve’s near-monopoly of the market and they launched their own services.

Two such services – EA’s Origin and Ubisoft’s uPlay – are now combining their resources to take on Steam’s dominant position. Origin has hosted content from other publishers before but for uPlay, this deal marks the first time another publisher’s content will appear. It’s not just EA games coming to uPlay, either, they’re also going to allow content from Warner Bros., Bohemia Interactive and TellTale. For their part, EA will be adding Ubisoft titles to Origin for the first time.

Now, it’s mostly a matter of personal taste but I don’t like uPlay very much and Origin is quite frustrating in many ways. Certainly nothing to rival Steam in the usability stakes but services like these are all about content and this kind of partnership, if Valve loses the content involved, is a very powerful one.

Source: PCR-Online, thanks @KillaScorp

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29 Comments
  1. bunimomike
    Member
    Since: Jul 2009

    Whilst competition is good, I don’t want to see content being removed from places like Steam. Meh.

    Comment posted on 20/02/2013 at 11:54.
    • yogdog
      Member
      Since: Feb 2010

      Steam are dominant for a reason, they don’t abuse their customers. Hell, even I have come around to really appreciating what Steam offers, and I used to hate the service. Gotta love Steam sales though!

      Comment posted on 20/02/2013 at 12:02.
      • blarty
        Member
        Since: Apr 2011

        I’d correct that by saying they don;t abuse their customers in ways that overtake the benefits those customers perceive by using their service – locking down DLC and expansion packs to only work if the main game was bought on Steam is pretty much a massive abuse of competition, but as many people buy the main game through Steam anywya it doesn’t even register in most people’s minds.

        Comment posted on 20/02/2013 at 12:21.
    • Peter Chapman
      Team TSA: Editor
      Since: Forever

      it’s the fact that I have to have more than one of these things on my PC that bugs me. I bought Far Cry 3 on PC – it works through uPlay. I’ll be pre-ordering SimCity – it works through Origin. Even retailers are pushing their own download services with always-on clients running now too – I bought Skyrim super cheap from GameStop and it has its own client.

      I just want one library and store rather than all that bloatware and resource drain. I don’t care who makes it, although Steam is the best I’ve used.

      Comment posted on 20/02/2013 at 12:09.
      • bunimomike
        Member
        Since: Jul 2009

        Agreed, fella. The GUI appears to be fairly solid but, in fact, it’s supremely well done when you realise the amount of content they have on there. It is truly staggering! Equally, they’re always pushing development and now we have the Big Picture (?) version for media PCs, Windows 8 fans, etc.

        I’m so, so impressed with how it’s turned out as I remember joining eight years ago or so and thinking “uh-huh… this kinda looks okay, I guess”. If it can win Yogdog (Jon) over it can do anything! :-)

        Comment posted on 20/02/2013 at 12:23.
      • blarty
        Member
        Since: Apr 2011

        Playing Devil’s advocate here but look at the other side of only having one store in PSN – the prices on there for digital versions are ridiculous. I would rather have a couple of apps, that if I need to I can exit or set not to start on boot (like I have done with Origin) and have Steam always on at boot than pay over the top prices that have little to no variance in them

        Comment posted on 20/02/2013 at 12:23.
      • TSBonyman
        Member
        Since: Dec 2009

        I’m with Peter on this, i dislike when i’m playing an EA or Ubisoft game on my psn account and it’s prompting me to sign up for another service which i really feel is unneccessary.

        Comment posted on 20/02/2013 at 12:33.
      • Avenger
        Member
        Since: Oct 2012

        Agreed I don’t want my PC full of crap. Not to mention that various game clients and Uplay don’t merge well with Steam, often interfering with the overlay and various other features.

        Valve have a good formula with Steam, Uplay is inept and Origin intrusive. I hope Steam manages to fight it out (if they need to).

        Comment posted on 20/02/2013 at 12:34.
      • jimmy-google
        Member
        Since: Feb 2009

        I wonder whether Origin, Uplay stores on the PSN will be apart of tonight’s announcements.

        A real break through would be to see digital price competition on consoles.

        Comment posted on 20/02/2013 at 12:35.
      • bunimomike
        Member
        Since: Jul 2009

        Good point, blarty. Competition on the PSN would be great.

        Interesting that even before the likes of Origin and uPlay, Steam had their pricing pretty much nailed. Sure, there are the usual stubborn prices of COD/MW but that’s Activision not budging because they don’t need to. Outside of that, everything adjusted accordingly and the sales are to die for!

        Comment posted on 20/02/2013 at 13:30.
      • KeRaSh
        Member
        Since: Nov 2009

        @blarty

        I’d love to have Steam access through the PS3! :P
        Your comparison is the wrong way, though. In your example, the standard store would be Steam, while the PSN store is the competition. Why would we want to have the PSN store on our PS3s if we already have Steam?

        Comment posted on 20/02/2013 at 13:52.
      • ron_mcphatty
        Member
        Since: Sep 2008

        It’s difficult to like having to use Origin and Steam, so I don’t! I deleted Origin, just Steam will do me fine as I tend to only buy Indie or older games on PC. I’ll always buy EA games for the PS3 instead, I’d say that buying habit is a direct result of not having any affection for Origin.

        Comment posted on 20/02/2013 at 15:13.
  2. jimmy-google
    Member
    Since: Feb 2009

    You don’t want anyone to have a monopoly, usually good for the consumer in the short term only.

    The real question for is how will this impact the Steam Box? If they will potential lose some big games it will make it a lot harder to complete with consoles which do have them

    Comment posted on 20/02/2013 at 12:10.
    • bunimomike
      Member
      Since: Jul 2009

      I suppose it comes down to simple maths with a side order of stubbornness. If Origin sells something 100,000 but research shows it could’ve shifted 250,000 on Steam then they really need to rethink their strategy… even with Valve’s cut.

      Comment posted on 20/02/2013 at 12:24.
      • jimmy-google
        Member
        Since: Feb 2009

        They’ll take a longer term view of it. It might seem a lot now but what happens when Steam is the only viable method of sale on PC?

        If they want their own services like Origin to take off then they will some short term profit for bigger long term gains.

        At what point would Value turn around and accept a smaller cut in order to keep games like Fifa, Assassin’s Creed etc… on Steam?

        Comment posted on 20/02/2013 at 12:32.
      • Avenger
        Member
        Since: Oct 2012

        Why can’t and EA and Ubisoft just accept Steam. Jeez.

        Comment posted on 20/02/2013 at 12:42.
      • eye8have9you3
        Member
        Since: Aug 2009

        Ultimately EA and Ubi need give consumers a reason to shop on origin/uplay. In spite of valve’s cut steam is always cheaper on price. Surely the main benefit of buying direct from the publisher is not paying for a middleman

        Comment posted on 20/02/2013 at 13:01.
      • KeRaSh
        Member
        Since: Nov 2009

        If we don’t pay the middle man on Origin or uPlay, why are the games not cheaper when we get them directly from EA or Ubisoft? Apart from Steam sales they charge the same prices which means EA and Ubisoft are putting the Steam tax directly into their own pockets. That’s them being greedy, not consumer friendly.

        Comment posted on 20/02/2013 at 14:21.
  3. Sad Panda
    Member
    Since: May 2010

    Steam accounts for such a vast majority of digital PC sales, I don’t see the business sense in removing your content from Steam. As for steambox sales, Valve just have to make Half Life 3 PC and Steambox exclusive, it will sell.

    I detest origin and find their pricing to be ridiculous at times for PC games. Especially when you can pick the disk up online for much cheaper. I’ve not had the pleasure of usin uplay on PC yet, but my ZombiU experience with it was pretty much pants.

    Comment posted on 20/02/2013 at 12:28.
    • Peter Chapman
      Team TSA: Editor
      Since: Forever

      uPlay was literally unusable for me when I tried downloading something a while ago (Anno 2070, I think) but was much better for Far Cry 3. Still a bit clunky but improving, at least.

      Likewise, Origin has come a long way, I think. It’s still far from ideal but much more usable than when it launched.

      But yeah, even though I agree with everyone pointing out the importance of competition for the consumer (me!), I think Steam, DRM and all, is the best out there by an almost immeasurable distance.

      Comment posted on 20/02/2013 at 12:34.
  4. Avenger
    Member
    Since: Oct 2012

    The only one additional thing I’d say is that Steam have got a massive step ahead of the game, with top up cards, game guides, collector’s editions, friends chat, big picture, controller support, massive library of games/software/server hosts.

    With prices of Origin’s content too, I can’t help thinking this is no skin off Steam’s nose unless both publishers with their respective content partners go exclusive, and I honestly can’t see developers wanting that because of the customer/install base being so small.

    Comment posted on 20/02/2013 at 12:40.
  5. eye8have9you3
    Member
    Since: Aug 2009

    It annoys me that people claim this is good for competition, neither Uplay or Origin will undercut each other and given the monopoly they will have on big name games (Crysis 3, Simcity and Dead Space 3 are the three featured games at the top of the origin store and none of the are on steam nor cheaper than fifty quid) they’ll have no reason to compete on service. Meanwhile steam will continue to thrive and PC gamers (being one of the few demographics fickle enough to carry off a good boycott) will flock to it

    Comment posted on 20/02/2013 at 12:52.
  6. KillaScorp
    Member
    Since: Jan 2009

    That was quick – posted about 15 mins after I sent the email/tweet!

    Comment posted on 20/02/2013 at 12:52.
  7. gazzagb
    Master of speling mitakse
    Since: Feb 2009

    Valve focuses on their customer base, EA and Ubisoft just care about the money, that’s the big difference. Origin and uPlay come nowhere close to Steam. Even so, between the two I prefer uPlay so it’s good to know there will be Origin games available through it as I hate Origin.

    Comment posted on 20/02/2013 at 13:06.
  8. teflon
    Community Team
    Since: May 2009

    uPlay’s venture into selling anything at all is a very new proposition. If they want to expand it, then I’m not at all surprised that they and EA team up like this, but it’s not breaking a particular trend on either side of things… The only hurdle to having EA back on Steam is for Valve to allow for timed exclusivity with DLC, giving in to EA’s demands.
    But that won’t happen, which is admirable.

    What I’m most disappointed in is that these are all just more invasive forms of DRM, masquerading as store fronts. It’s most brazen when you buy from one client and then have to jump through log ins and further clients. It’s a complete and utter travesty.

    I’d be happy to see this turn into a truer form of competition, where in a few years, once they’ve established themselves, uPlay and Origin back down from their current oppresiveness and take a more internalised, modular form within games. So that I could buy Far Cry 4 from Steam, and only encounter uPlay in game, when I want to go online. No extra client. No stupid fuss.

    Comment posted on 20/02/2013 at 13:56.
  9. yiddo
    Member
    Since: Jun 2010

    I’ve not read all the comments, but does this mean as well that the uPlay points and reward feature will be in most of those publishers games? Or will they still be stricly Ubisoft games only?

    Comment posted on 20/02/2013 at 14:37.
  10. Sympozium
    Member
    Since: Aug 2009

    I find Uplay to be the most annoying… its just awkward to me. The layout is just lame. Although I like Origin I don’t mind having that on my PC. Its just that I’ve bought Ubisoft games on sale at Gamersgate only to be greeted with a poor system.

    Comment posted on 20/02/2013 at 17:49.

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