Origin, the Electronic Arts PC game storefront, may be coming back to Steam rather soon. The company posted a simple teaser to its official Twitter, which was little more than a coffee cup. But keen users observed the steam rising from the cup, assuming that it was some kind of coded message from EA about intentions to return to the dominant PC games distribution platform. Other people quickly began digging, and what they uncovered all but confirmed the news. The Steam Database has listings now active for various Electronic Arts games, many of which were exclusive to Origin.
The company made the decision back in 2012 to stop selling new release PC versions of their games via Steam, and instead made the decision to grow their own branded store with the Origin service. The also attempted to buoy the effort with paid premium services that would allow interested gamers to have access to a library of EA titles for one price of admission. By 2013, the service had more than 50 million registered users, but it had its fair share of problems. For one, many issues of user privacy and security arose over the years, leading to some abandoning the service. Contrast this growth with the 67 million monthly Steam users in August 2017, and you begin to see just how far EA is behind their biggest competition for users.
There’s plenty of potential explanations floating around in the absence of official clarification from EA. Some see this move as an acknowledgement of the widespread rejection of Origin, as the service has had its fair share of hiccups over the years. The laser-focus on EA titles left the overall selection fairly hamstrung in terms of variety, and the constant stream of backlash over low-quality games and bad monetization practices hasn’t helped at all.
The move could also be seen as an attempted backstop against the growing influence of Epic and their own proprietary launcher. The Epic Games Store has been throwing a ton of money, and controversial exclusives, around, much to the joy or chagrin of gamers depending on who you ask. A lot of major EA properties have lost a fair bit of market share as they lack a Steam presence, like FIFA. The mega-publisher could be looking to benefit from the massive Steam userbase in a major PC push, but this has not been confirmed.