Gamers who don’t fancy making the January sales can now download some of the biggest games of 2008 straight to their PCs. The world’s largest games producer Electronic Arts (NSDQ: ERTS) has announced it will make three of its recent releases available as digital downloads via the Steam platform, which is run by Half Life developer Valve. The games, available to “most parts of Europe”, are Spore, Mass Effect, Need For Speed Underground and Fifa Manager 2009, with Mirror’s Edge, Command and Conquer and others coming soon. EA already has direct games downloads available from its own store, but with 15 million users worldwide, Steam is growing in popularity and the developers want to be where the gaming community is — plus rivals like Far Cry maker Ubisoft are already on board.
And in a move set to please avid gamers, EA games on Steam all come DRM-free. EA annoyed ranks of committed games fans by putting DRM technology on the Spore game that limited each copy to being installed on a maximum of three computers — gamers argue that they should have unlimited install rights as they upgrade their machines more often than most and would like to bring their software with them. In response to the controversy, EA issued gamers with a download to “de-authorise” a computer so the game could be installed on another.