EA has received a lot of well-deserved flak for making certain new games exclusive to its Origin distribution service. All PC releases should be available on Steam, proponents of the competing service say. I'm inclined to agree, as are most of our readers.
Valve hasn't been in a particularly strong position to complain, though. For years, its own titles have only been available in downloadable form via Steam. That's now changed, with GameStop announcing that a collection of Valve games are now available via its Impulse service. Portal 2, both Left 4 Dead games, The Orange Box, and the complete Half-Life collection can now be purchased via the competing distribution platform. Well, I wouldn't call Impulse competitive with Steam, but you know.
Although those games are all available for purchase through Impulse now, you'll still need the Steam client to install and play them. We should be surprised; even the DVD versions of Valve games sold in retail locations require Steam. This is just another example of how Steam is more like Origin and Games for Windows Live than some folks would like to admit. That said, Steam does look a whole lot better than the alternatives.
While it's nice to see Valve cooperating with other distribution platforms, I can't help but wonder if future Valve games will be available on Impulse right at launch. If Steam is required anyway, there doesn't seem to be much point in buying through Impulse. Right now, the service actually charges five to nine cents more than Steam for all the Valve games it offers. Thanks to Rock, Paper, Shotgun for the tip.