EA is once again selling its games through Steam, and it'll offer its EA Access games subscription service through Valve's platform as well. The partnership starts next month with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, and multiplayer games such as Apex Legends and FIFA 20 are on the way to Steam too. When the latter games do arrive, you might find that your Origin and Steam friend lists are integrated.
"We are working with Valve and Steam to connect our friends lists together more effectively, so that you can play together across multiplayer games, regardless of which platform you're choosing to play the game on," Mike Blank, EA's senior vice president of player networks, told Engadget in an interview.
With that in mind, you'll need to create an EA account (if you haven't already done so) to buy or access EA games on Steam. You'll also need to use EA's Origin launcher during the setup process, Blank said, but once you've linked your accounts, you'll be able to launch the games directly from Steam.
For the time being, though, you won't be able to launch games you bought on Origin through Steam. That may change eventually, as the "relationship between Steam and Valve is evolving." However, you can, as always add games from other launchers to your Steam library as shortcuts through the "Add a non-Steam game to My Library option." That doesn't launch the game directly, however.
After several years of releasing PC games exclusively through Origin, EA decided to bring them back to Steam to help players have easier access to its titles. "We want to be where players are," Blank, who oversees Origin and EA Access, said. "We want to make it as frictionless as possible for people to play our games, where they want and when they want to. [It makes sense] to bring our games back to a platform like Steam, where there are millions of people playing games today."
We've seen another notable example of this shift in approach lately, with EA Access arriving on PS4. It had previously only been available on Xbox One and on PC as Origin Access. Steam will be the fourth method of, well, access for the subscription service, which will be available "sometime around spring next year," Blank noted.
It's not clear as yet whether EA plans to release all of its future games on Steam. However, Blank noted that there are more announcements to come beyond the already confirmed titles: Fallen Order, Apex Legends, FIFA 20, Battlefield V, The Sims 4 and Unravel 2.
As the PC gaming landscape fractures -- with Epic Games locking down exclusives for its store, and Blizzard and Rockstar having their own launchers -- it's encouraging to see major publishers work with potential competitors' storefronts. Not only are EA games coming back to Steam, but Ubisoft has games there too and started selling titles through the Epic Games Store, beginning with The Division 2.
Blank wouldn't discuss specifics of the partnership with Steam, including whether EA got a more favorable revenue share from Valve than other publishers and studios, nor whether Valve will receive a cut of in-game purchases. There's also no word as yet on whether you can expect to see EA games on other digital storefronts, such as Epic's store. The publisher isn't ruling that out, however.
The executive said EA is open to new partnerships that let people play games on different platforms. The publisher, he explained, continues "to explore and evaluate other potential gaming services on the market where we could bring our games to players."