Mass Effect 3: All Origin, No Steam, Mum on ‘Origin Spyware’ Claims

Mass Effect 3: All Origin, No Steam, Mum on 'Origin Spyware' Claims

Well, now I guess I will have to wait until Mass Effect 3 eventually lands on Steam or is a bargain title, because I am SURELY not buying it based on what I am reading on the Bioware ‘social’ forums.

Here is a snip:

1) Will Origin be a requirement to play all versions of Mass Effect 3? (Digital and/or from a retail brick and mortar store)
Yes, Origin is required for all PC editions of Mass Effect 3, physical or digital.

2) Is constant Origin connection required or is it a single one off authentication when the game is first installed. Is there also a limit to the number of installations available?
Mass Effect 3 will require a one time, single authorization for the single player game. There is no limit to the number of installs. Playing Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer will require a constant connection.

3) Is Origin required for the retail versions of the game?
Origin is required for the PC versions of Mass Effect 3, both physical and digital.

4) Will ME3 be available on Steam?
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. 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.

5) Is there an opt in or opt out clause for data collection?
Users will be allowed to opt-out of Mass Effect 3 data collection from inside the game.

6) I’ve seen reports that Origin is spyware. Is this true?
Origin is not spyware, 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.

The emphasis is mine and is the defense that EA (via Bioware’s Priestly) is using … and amusingly enough is exactly the same defense Google used last week when they chose to not include billions of pages of Twitter and Facebook data in their social feed.

And what are the ‘terms’ that are causing issues?
If someone buys a game through Steam, and subsequently buys DLC (downloadable content, typically bought in-game or on a publisher site), then Steam gets a percentage of the DLC sale proceeds just as if the customer bought it through Steam itself. It is in effect saying ‘we brought you the $60, give us a cut of the $1.99’.

But EA is the sole game publisher who has opposed this – they are happy to take the millions of customers Steam will bring them … but unwilling to share the DLC proceeds from that sale. It is a hugely important conflict as it recognizes that while the $60 price of a game is critical, the less-than-$10 DLC is almost entirely profit for a publisher, and EA doesn’t want to lose a penny.

Many complain about Steam and their near monopoly of digital downloads. While they are clearly dominant with ~75% market share, it is a ‘natural’ monopoly like Google and search – in other words, they EARNED it. How? But allowing anyone to publish games, providing excellent service to customers, and integrating features that gamers wanted to the point that they would give up retail boxes and the ability to resell.

Bottom line to my opposition to EA’s position:

– EA has a demonstrated history of buying up developers and trashing them, and destroying franchises. No reasonable person can debate that Dragon Age 2 is *dramatically* inferior to the original – one was a Pre-EA game, the other a post-EA game. QED.

– Origin is an EA property, and they are using it not as a separate effort like Impulse that had separate teams, but as an integrated anti-competitive push. If it was ‘exclusive’, that might ne one thing, but being ‘exclusively non-Steam’ smacks as a different motive.

– Steam is 100% correct here – THEY bring the customers, so when DLC is bought through a game bought from Steam, it is not unreasonable that they should see benefit. Thinking otherwise is being an EA apologist plain and simple.

I would have no issue about Origin being required, sort of like Live for WIndows being required for Fallout 3, so long as I could get it through Steam.

EA and their old ‘EA download service’ has onerous terms that could simply take away your games. We have currently seen people banned from *using games they paid for* because of saying something a moderator decided he didn’t like on the EA forums – MANY times. I have seen people banned from forums elsewhere, but only in-game things resulting in game bans. One method is correct, the other is user-hostile and should have any sane person completely distrust EA.

So … I have played the two previous Mass Effect games, but won’t be touching the last one. What about you?

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About the Author

Michael Anderson
I have loved technology for as long as I can remember - and have been a computer gamer since the PDP-10! Mobile Technology has played a major role in my life - I have used an electronic companion since the HP95LX more than 20 years ago, and have been a 'Laptop First' person since my Compaq LTE Lite 3/20 and Powerbook 170 back in 1991! As an avid gamer and gadget-junkie I was constantly asked for my opinions on new technology, which led to writing small blurbs ... and eventually becoming a reviewer many years ago. My family is my biggest priority in life, and they alternate between loving and tolerating my gaming and gadget hobbies ... but ultimately benefits from the addition of technology to our lives!

1 Comment on "Mass Effect 3: All Origin, No Steam, Mum on ‘Origin Spyware’ Claims"

  1. Carlos enkiire | January 17, 2012 at 10:50 pm |

    I played the heck out of Dragon age and the expansion, but didn’t touch DA2 as the demo wasn’t to my liking.  I only just started Mass effect(I know.  late to the party).  seeing as I played DAO for 849 hours according to steam I look to have a full spring worth of fun  with mass effect 1 and 2.  I will buy ME 3 probably.  BUT it will be from steam if/when it is offered.  I really don’t even look at games that aren’t on steam or don’t have steam codes anymore.

    Basically I’ve made a platform choice, just like some folks choose itunes over amazon for music.  I made a few exceptions by using impulse for Sins of a solar empire(unplayed LoL but on my list for when other stuff runs out) and Total annihilation, but I haven’t used it in at least 6 months. I just don’t have time to be bothered with a third digital game buying platform.  and As you mention Steam has a better reputation.

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