If you assumed that Valve would prohibit and/or discourage EA from slapping its Origin client on Steam Machines, then think again. Valve Software head honcho Gabe Newell said on Thursday that he wants Steam Machines to be as open as possible, and if Electronic Arts wants to put Origin on the platform, he would be just peachy keen about it (my words, not his).
Of course, what would it cost Steam Machine makers to have any service running out of the box other than Steam? Valve charges a licensing fee whether it's SteamOS or the pre-installed Steam client for Windows, Mac OS X or Linux. EA may do the same since its Origin client is also proprietary software.
"In very simple terms, you need a license to redistribute our proprietary Steam Client, whether on its own or whether as part of SteamOS, and you need a license to use any of our trademarks in a commercial context," Valve tells Steam Machine builders. "That includes, without limitation, using the Steam symbol and terms like Steam, SteamOS and Steam Machine in any of your commercial communication, whether from product design, advertising or PR. And unless you are a licensee, you should not publicly suggest any connection to Valve or Steam."
As GamesIndustry International points out, Valve and EA had a little "spat" several years ago when Steam's terms and conditions were changed, forcing a number of EA games to be removed from the service (which likely help grow EA's Origin platform anyway). EA COO Peter Moore said the big beef centered on Valve wanting a cut of revenue in turn for not allowing EA to send patches and content directly to customers. This wasn't exactly a "feud," but turned into a relationship that isn't quite so rosy.
What that means for Steam Machines and EA's Origin is unknown at this point. The whole point of these machines is to breathe new life into PC gaming, and as Newell said, remain as open as possible in the process. Competing for living room space with the heavyweight consoles is also the point, of course, of a fight that may be difficult for the builds that take the high road price-wise this fall.