Could we be on the cusp of a war between game download services? Valve has dominated the market with Steam, but at least one major title has been pulled from its catalog. Rock, Paper, Shotgun reports Crysis 2 will now only be available through EA's new Origin download store. You'll still be able to play the game if you've already purchased it on Steam. Forget about picking up a cheap copy during one of Valve's infamous Steam sales, though.
EA hasn't issued a formal statement on the matter, but RPS questions whether this could be the first shot in a salvo of Origin exclusives that attempt to draw business away from Steam. Alice: Madness Returns is only available on Origin until the end of the week, and the only alternative after that may be a retail box. Unlike a number of upcoming titles, the game isn't available for pre-order on Steam.
I've not yet used Origin, but I wasn't all that impressed with EA's last download service, especially when compared to Valve's constantly evolving distribution platform. I really do want to play the new Alice game, though, and Battlefield 3 looms large on the horizon. If neither are available on Steam, I may have to kick it old-school and buy both on optical disc. Then again, it seems unlikely that doing so will free me from those false gaming services Bruno mentioned earlier this week.
Update — This one's getting curiouser and curiouser. RPS has word that Crysis 2's removal from Steam was not EA's decision. Valve is reportedly responsible for pulling the plug. The reason? Crytek's agreement with "another download service" apparently conflicts with "new rules" for Steam. Adding to the intrigue, EA Games president Frank Gibeau has revealed that the company is "going to have some of [its] own platform exclusives" and "use exclusive content" to build an audience for its Origin platform. At the same time, he says that other digital distribution services will sell the company's games. Those alternatives might not get games first, though.