so you can't play EA games without Origin?
It's starting to become that way with newer ones, but I'm not sure if there are any games like that yet besides BF3 and (soon) ME3. Of course I'm sure there are/will be cracks for both that allow running the game without Origin but that would cut you off from the multiplayer aspect.
but you can play Valve games without Steam, if you are so inclined, right?
Anything purchased on Steam generally requires Steam to play, but I don't find that to be a big deal given the value-added services Steam brings to the table. If one is so inclined it's usually just a matter of finding a cracked .exe for any given game to play it without Steam, but I rarely find this necessary.
What I don't want is a bunch of Steam clones (like Origin) with exclusive titles forcing me to keep track of multiple accounts and install multiple clients to play my games. As of right now, most Origin games are no longer available on Steam (if they ever were - Crysis 2 was pulled from Steam after Origin launched)