Steam primary service is to allow its users to download games and other software that they have in their virtual software library to their local computers. Steam-integrated games are stored as single non-compressed archive files with the extension
.gcf Steam allocates space on the user’s hard disk for
.gcf files before downloading in order to reduce fragmentation which may occur when downloading large files and performing disk access. Game Cache Files help to make games more portable, stop users from accidentally overwriting important files, allow for easy modification of resources, and allows for validation of content for errors. For games that do not integrate, a ‘No Cache File’ system is provided. Here, a
.ncf index file points to a directory of loose files somewhere else on the system.Users can enable Steam to automatically patch software packages as they are updated by their publishers, or alternatively allow users to manually initiate this patching process. The client allows users to back up game data files to other media, and remove game content files to free space on their machines.
Origin (formerly EA Store) is a digital distribution, digital rights management system from Electronic Arts that allows users to purchase games on the internet for PC and mobile platforms, and download them with the Origin client (formerly EA Download Manager, EA Downloader and EA Link). It is currently in Beta.
Origin features social features like profile management, networking with friends with chat and direct game joining along with an in-game overlay, sharing of game library and community integration with networking sites like Facebook, Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. Electronic Arts has stated that it wants Origin to match Valve’s Steam service, Origin’s leading competitor, by the end of March 2012, by adding cloud game saves, auto-patching, achievements and rewards, and cross-platform releases.
Origin users are identified by their unified Origin account, which supersedes an EA account and may be canceled if left unused after 24 months if there are not any premium games on it. As of September 2011, Origin has been installed by 3.9 million users.