DICE has confirmed that even retail copies of Battlefield 3 will require the installation of EA's download manager and online store Origin.
EA's certainly trying hard to push this Origin thing on us. Back in June, the publisher revealed that it was planning to make a number of titles exclusive to the service, with arguably the most high profile of these being BioWare's MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic. EA's also had a number of spats with Valve over Steam's licensing agreements, leading to several of EA's titles no longer being available for purchase or auto-update via Valve's platform.
With Battlefield 3, though, EA's taking a new tack again -- forcing players to install the Origin client software, even with new retail copies of the game. DICE community manager Daniel "@zh1nt0" Matros confirmed this via Twitter.
This isn't a new practice -- Valve has been requiring users to install Steam with retail versions of their products ever since Half-Life 2. There was upset over this at the time of Half-Life 2's original release, but since then most PC gamers have accepted Steam as the de facto standard for digital distribution and community features. Origin, conversely, is still an unknown quantity at this time, currently focused solely on EA games (though the publisher hopes this will change) and seen by many as a service that is gutting Steam of EA's best titles one at a time. Some users have also claimed Origin itself is a resource hog, causing performance issues with the recent Battlefield 3 alpha trial on lower-spec machines.
Battlefield 3 will not be available via Steam, with EA giving the usual non-specific excuse about Valve's supposedly restrictive business terms as the reason. It's the latest casualty in the growing rift between EA and Valve, following Crysis 2 and Dragon Age II's removal from the Steam store.