Am i ridiculous for just sticking with Steam?
I do most of my gaming sprawled on my sofa with a joypad in my hands. If I was still into multiplayer FPS’s I'd be crouched over the computer desk with mouse and keyboard and there would perhaps be a different dynamic to not just the way I played the games but the way I thought about the platforms PC games now come attached to.
Steam is where my huge library of games are, all my gaming friends, and multiple social groups that just don't exist anywhere else. It's also the biggest store for games; so if I suddenly feel like playing a game from ten years ago then the journey from searching, purchasing, downloading, and then playing the thing is seamless. The Steam ecosystem is just so slick in its Big Picture form. I see it as a console replacement - I hold one button down on the pad and I have every aspect of gaming immediately there and accessible. Sure, I got the mouse and keyboard sat nearby for chats and whatever but it's a very small part of my interaction with Steam now.
I still find the Steam Big Picture launch screen snazzy as heck.
I haven't tried Origin properly for a few years. I didn't like the experience; the layout was pedestrian, there were far fewer titles, the ecosystem that revolves around gaming isn't there like on Steam. I'm sure some things have improved. One of the draws of the Origin platform is that it has a handful of games you can't get elsewhere on PC. The most dickish move EA ever pulled was offering the first two Mass Effect games on Steam and then keeping the last one an Origin exclusive. By offering the first two on Steam the natural assumption of Steam gamers was that the third would eventually arrive there too. Instead it never arrived; a deeply, pretty unbelievable, cynical scam to drive traffic to their own platform. Many people will have invested in the two original titles with the understandable expectation of the third arriving. They were manipulated, defrauded. I'm surprised there wasn't a court-case.
Part of the desperate desire to build their user base leads them to occasionally sell these games at incredibly low prices - they've previously sold the Mass Effect trilogy at a price-point where it's practically been free. Titanfall, both the game and season pass (same thing with Destiny), were being offered at obscenely low prices not long after release. Obviously it was a big push for new users - hey, come play the latest thing around for hardly any money! - but it came so soon after the original releases that it just smacked of desperation. It makes you wonder how much Origin costs to run - is it self supporting, or is it being propped up by the rest of the company? They can certainly do that longterm in the hope that it eventually starts paying for itself, if that's the case.
And this is how you interact with Origin. Balls to that.
The Mass Effect trick/marketing strategy had a real effect on me that, coupled with other distasteful behaviours of theirs in the past, led me to pretty-much boycott their output. If there's a game of theirs I really want to play it has to be available for Steam and cheap as hell and preferably from a third party seller so EA get as little of my money as possible. It's not a big deal to me - I'm lucky enough to be sat on a bunch of AAA titles I seem to be magically collecting somehow, unplayed. I can wait for things.
The thing that provoked this article was a recent deal by the other, smallest of the big players in this field, Ubisoft. Six decent titles, including Far Cry 3, for $5. That's a great deal - of course locked to their UPlay platform. Ubisoft usually go with a different tactic - make things available on Steam so they're still making money there but at a higher price, but often drop their prices insanely low over on UPlay. I find this less despicable - I'm still being given free choice, even if might end with me paying out more than necessary.
The problem for the couch-gamer is this; if I'm playing all these exclusives on three PC gaming platforms am i expected to have all three programs open all the time just incase, sometime, on one of them, someone wants a game or a conversation. My pad triggers Steam with one button push; to use it with Origin or UPlay? I've got to uncouple my controller from Steam and then link to something else. It's a pain in the ass. And i'm not doing it. By all means charge more for your titles on Steam, but at least have them there. Not doing so? It really pisses gamers off, and they'll stop buying your products.
Ugh, what even is this? A PS Vita menu screen?
If you're still still into your precision FPS experiences then you need to be crouched over your PC, and having a bunch of different platforms open at the same time might not be a big deal , but for those who like to kick back while we game there is only one choice. Valve is a titan, hoovering up cash in a variety of ways; some I'm not entirely comfortable with - the amount of Steam Tax charged on sold goods, the cut they take off developers big and small. But at the same time they're great at encouraging and helping develop new indie games and the user experience is just so incredibly polished; I feel like that's almost something worth paying for (which, of course we are in a variety of ways) . The presentation and usability of the consoles and other PC platforms look positively amateurish in comparison.
Ahh, my beautiful beautiful Steam Big Picture
So there aren't any other options. I want to press a button and be able play all my games instantly. And the competition is a mess, desperately hanging onto a handful of exclusives, with no comparible user bases. EA will keep persevering with Origin. Ubisoft too can subsidise their online gaming through UPlay due to their game sales, but the console and Steam user base continue to grow and longterm I wonder if either of the other two will last, given their limited content. Gaming is moving more and more to the Big Screen - literally and figuratively. And Origin and UPlay just can't compete there at all.
I think I just answered my own question.