Electronic Arts revealed today it was bringing its games back to Steam after an absence of eight years. Don’t get too excited, though, Steam faithful: you’re still going to need the Origin launcher in order to play your games.
Around 2011, EA shifted gears from Valve’s storefront over to Origin. Jedi: Fallen Order will be the first EA game since that time to release on Steam (you can pre-order it there if you haven’t already). EA will also release some of its single-player games shortly after this, including Sims 4 and Unravel Two. Multiplayer games like Apex Legends, FIFA 20, and Battlefield V will be available next year and will play cross-platform between Origin and Steam. According to Engadget, you’ll even be able to join your friends lists on both platforms at some point.
— Electronic Arts (@EA) October 29, 2019
This is the first time we’ve seen a subscription service on Steam. Normally, companies restrict them to their own storefronts — Xbox Game Pass, Uplay+, etc. EA‘s already made an effort to expand Access to PlayStation, which received the service earlier this year. Players will have access to a vault with around 80 games, assuming the library on Steam is sized similar to the ones on console and Origin. We’ve contacted EA for clarification.
So what does this mean for Origin? Well, for starters, it’s still got Origin Access — don’t worry, this confusing for me too. Origin Access is the subscription service exclusive to the PC storefront, which offers a vault of over 200 games and access to new titles (depending on whether you have the Basic or Premier subscriptions). We’re on record praising Origin Access Premier — it’s a relative bargain as far as gaming subscriptions go.
Also, buried in the Jedi: Fallen Order Steam page, you can see the words “Download & Installation Of The Origin Client Software Required To Play.” So clearly, you’re still going to need Origin in order to boot up your games, which is how Ubisoft games work these days. That’s not exactly ideal — you’re going to be forced to download the Origin launcher no matter what.
There’s something else the company could use Origin for: EA‘s also been quietly working on its own cloud gaming service (yeah, I know, another one) called Project Atlas. The company’s been working on this for a while — the initial announcement mentioned “an awesome upcoming dynamic world game called Anthem,” which just feels kind of sad now. But putting that aside, I can see why Origin would make a good place for Atlas. Ubisoft managed to make Uplay a vessel for its subscription service without removing its games from Steam, so there’s some precedent for companies retrofitting their personal storefronts for other services.
So Origin’s sticking around no matter what, but at least gamers who want to consolidate their libraries in future will be able to stick with Steam.