Digital Distributors Creep Into Retail Space As EA Pushes Origin Client

Written by Matthew Lentini     16/08/2011 | 02:24 | Category: PC

What originally looked like a battle between digital distributors has evolved beyond the online download front and spilled into the retail sphere.

A tweet from Battlefield 3 developer DICE's community manager, Daniel Matros, confirmed that PC players of the upcoming title will require EA's Origin client - even if they buy the game through retail.

Gaming giant EA originally stated that its fledgling Origin online game store and client was not a competitor of the most popular gaming download service, Steam, despite their similarities.

EA stressed that the earlier drop of Crysis 2 from the Steam store was not their doing but instead a by-product of Steam's rigid rules that "forbids publishers from contacting players with patches, new levels, items and other services - it disrupts our ability to provide the ongoing support players expect from us."

It came with little surprise after earlier pull-outs from Steam that Battlefield 3 would be delivered on the back of Origin, though now it has been revealed that even physical disc buyers will need to run the Origin client software in the same way that Steam customers must run that in the background of their games.

Players on PC will also use the 'Battlelog' system to launch the game, search for servers and set up matches online. PS3 and Xbox 360 users will access the game as normal on their consoles.

The move follows other gaming companies' 'online pass' features that are slowly seeping in to do away with revenue lost to the used game market. Under the online pass system, video games sold in the retail sphere would hold a one-time key to access content on the game.

The latest developer to head this way has been id Software with its upcoming Rage game. The online pass will block part of the single player content (rather than just online content) for second-hand buyers.