Before I begin this ramble, I'll make two things clear:

1. Even if BF3 doesn't land on STEAM, I'm still going to buy it because I'm a fan of the game, not just the distribution.
2. I love Valve.

I saw that Crysis 2 got pulled from STEAM recently. I was a bit surprised. But what really surprised me is how out of the woodworks the Valve white-knights came crawling out in the comment section. Again, I love Valve and STEAM. I think STEAM is what turned PC gaming around in the past few years. I think it's a wonderful product. But it of course begged the question: Will this affect BF3? Possibly. Possibly not. We'll know more in the future. Is it possible that Valve overstepped a line with their "agreements" with EA? Possibly. Possibly not.

I've been tooling with in my mind for a while now has been the concept of the "gaming bubble" - similar to the housing bubble. I'm not the most educated man in the world on the housing crisis we saw here in America not too long ago, but I think I understand the basic premise of the bubble - everything can get really huge and explode really fast. Before anyone jumps to conclusions, I don't think the STEAM/Origin thing is something that will "explode." More on this later.

A few weeks ago I bought Fallout, New Vegas. Retail. It was only 20 dollars. At the time, it was full price on STEAM. A part of me wondered why this might have been. At the time the answer seemed obvious - many people prefer a digital copy, especially with STEAM. Heck, I do too. NV activated on steam. I saved 30 bucks, and still had the convenience of a digital copy. I've always wondered about pricing on steam. Sometimes retail copies of games are seriously cheap compared to STEAM. Othertimes it seems like STEAM is giving games away. Just a few weeks ago I was robbed by steam again. They came into my home and forced me to buy heavily discounted games. They took the money right from my wallet. Damn them!

But I did always wonder how STEAM could sell things so cheap, or in some cases, maintain the same price for so long...

So then the Crysis 2 thing happens - "Steam has imposed a set of business terms for developers hoping to sell content on that service many of which are not imposed by other online game services. Unfortunately, Crytek has an agreement with another download service which violates the new rules from Steam and resulted in its expulsion of Crysis II from Steam. "

Origin, probably. While I'm not a fan of EA, perse, I don't openly hate them. They've done really well in the past few years. And while I'd love to have STEAM release BF3, and I don't really want to use Origin just for BF3, I may end up doing so - and I'm not angry. I am actually cautiously excited for a giant like EA to try and cut into digital distribution. It could be better for our wallets - competition can create real price wars. Although EA will probably "maintain" prices more than they slash them like we see on STEAM. And if EA were to end up with no games on STEAM there wouldn't be many STEAM vs EA price battles, huh? We'll see.

Anyway, back to the concept of the gaming bubble. Now I don't think this whole Origin thing is some cataclysm. And I don't think it'll be too major between EA and Valve, since EA has a partnership with Valve to publish all of Valve's console content. I hope this doesn't turn nasty. But the concept is this: What if Valve is not the knight in shining armor we've shaped it up to be? After all, they are a business. Perhaps they don't want "big" competition on the digital distribution front. And from a business standpoint, I understand. But the whole "terms" thing with EA sounds like Valve wants to keep it's share of the pie - which is rather large. While there are other digital distribution options out there, none are as large as Valve, or have the potential resources that EA does with Origin. (Potential. We'll see how EA uses Origin)

I've practically built a shrine to Valve - almost all of my game purchases since 2006 have been exclusively from them. But that really makes me wonder - are they becoming a bit too powerful? I'm not accusing them of being greedy or of shady business ethics - but are they possibly becoming a slow-growing monopoly? And how DO they keep prices so good? It makes you wonder what terms publishers have to sign to get their titles on STEAM to begin with.

This is all speculation, of course. Maybe Valve was like "LOL where the hell is your DX11 support for your console port? Take your crap and leave." Or perhaps Valve does not like too much competition. Or perhaps EA is skewing the story. Who knows.

What I do know is, despite my love of Valve and of BF3, I'm not worried about having to choose sides. I think consumers in the long run stand to benefit if Origin is successful. Or even if it's a failure - can you imagine the pricewars EA would have to start to lure people into using Origin? Who knows.

So before we all get our pitchforks and march to EA HQ demanding answers, it's probably wise we look at what we may have done: We may have enabled Valve to be aggressive. Through our YEARS of hurting retail copy sales, through our years of impulse buying on STEAM, we may have created a baby beast. And after all these YEARS of bitching about EA, perhaps we were slightly misguided at times?