EA Forum Bans Can Lock You Out Of Games

By John Walker on March 11th, 2011 at 12:50 pm.

The very definition of quick and dirty

UPDATE: EA are now saying this was a mistake, and Arno has access to his games during the ban.

Original story: Be careful what you say. That’s the lesson BioWare forum user Arno has learned in the last 24 hours, after an ill-advised comment on the BioWare forums has led to his EA account being locked, such that he cannot play his purchased copy of Dragon Age 2 for 72 hours.

It reveals a clause in the terms of service that accompany buying an EA game that will surprise the vast majority who do not read the microprint. Misbehave in the forum (as Arno fully admits he did), and you can have your right to play a legitimately purchased game taken away from you. Forever, if they want to.

Arno made a mistake. He posted a comment in which he said,

“Have you sold your souls to the EA devil?”

In the world of forums, it’s a relatively innocuous remark. But if you’re EA, and someone’s come into your front room, you may not want to put up with such insults. Sure, go say them somewhere else, but not in our house. Constructive criticism it was not.

A response we might expect would be – well, here we’d just mock you in our comment thread, or edit your comment. Keep doing things we’ve asked you not to and we’d block your account. Which is essentially what happened. Arno received a 72 hour ban. But not only from the forum, but it seems his entire EA account.

A scene in the BioWare forums, yesterday.

In the last few years EA have tied an increasing number of their games to one universal user account. The same login is used for Burnout Paradise as for Mass Effect 2. It’s pretty convenient as a gamer. But it turns out it offers them a greater power than you might think. Because now Arno, despite wanting a copy of Dragon Age II that unlocked at midnight last night, is unable to authenticate the game with the account it’s tied to (by pre-release DLC), and thus cannot play.

He’s also locked out of an enormous amount of other gaming content. For instance, Arno tells us, if he wanted to play Dragon Age: Origins, he’d now have to start a new game since all his save positions are tied to DLC. Try to play those without being logged in an EA assumes it’s pirated DLC and refuses to run. And his second forum account has been locked because he suggested that bans like this could lead people to piracy – something he’s stated he does not intend to do.

We’ve seen Arno’s correspondence with BioWare, and it’s fair to say that he’s not been as controlled as he could have been. While there’s been no abuse or inappropriate language, he’s certainly cocky. BioWare’s response so far has been to repeatedly state the rules to Arno, with a moderator explaining to him,

“It’s not like you get to pick and choose your own punishment when you break the rules. The various punishments, up to and including permanent bans, EA account termination, and loss of access to entitlements, is very clearly laid out and is part of the rules you agreed to follow and be governed by.”

They’ve also locked threads discussing the matter.

During Arno’s attempt to find out what he’d done wrong, the EA live chat told him,

“You have been banned due to some inappropriate content posting on forums and we can not reveal it due to some security polices.”

Perhaps most confusingly is the moderator comment in the locked thread, in which he attempts to explain the crossover between BioWare and EA rules:

“1. BioWare community bans are forum-only and can be for as little as 24 hours. These bans should have no effect on your game, only your ability to use all the features of this website/community. these bans are handed out by BioWare Moderators as the result of our travels around the forum and/or issues reported by fellow community members.

2. EA Community bans come down from a different department and are the result of someone hitting the REPORT POST button. These bans can affect access to your game and/or DLC.

Because the BioWare community now operates under the same umbrella as all EA Communities, community members here have all explicitly agreed to abide by and be governed by both sets of rules. Consider it an added incentive to follow the rules you say you’re going to follow.”

And there’s no doubt that they can do this. It certainly does state this in the EA terms. They, without question, reserve the right to take away your access to games you’ve bought at their discretion, and no refund will be offered. It says so here:

EA may also terminate your Account(s) (and access to all related Entitlements) for violation of this Terms of Service, illegal or improper use of your Account, or illegal or improper use of EA Services, Content, Entitlement, products, or EA’s Intellectual Property as determined by EA in its sole discretion. You may lose your user name and persona as a result of Account termination. If you have more than one (1) Account, EA may terminate all of your Accounts and all related Entitlements. In response to a violation of these Terms of Service or any other agreement applicable to EA Services accessed by you, EA may issue you a warning, suspend your Account, selectively remove, revoke or garnish Entitlements associated with your Account or immediately terminate any and all Accounts that you have established. You acknowledge that EA is not required to provide you notice before suspending or terminating your Account or selectively removing, revoking or garnishing Entitlements associated with your Account. If EA terminates your Account, you may not participate in an EA Service again without EA’s express permission. EA reserves the right to refuse to keep Accounts for, and provide EA Services to, any individual. You may not allow individuals whose Accounts have been terminated by EA to use your Account.

If your Account, or a particular subscription for an EA Service associated with your Account, is terminated, suspended and/or if any Entitlements are selectively removed, revoked or garnished from your Account, no refund will be granted, no Entitlements will be credited to you or converted to cash or other forms of reimbursement, and you will have no further access to your Account or Entitlements associated with your Account or the particular EA Service. If you believe that any action has been taken against your Account in error, please contact Customer Support at support.ea.com.

To summarise, EA can take away your access to your purchased games at their sole discretion, and not offer any refund. That’s what you agree to when you buy an EA game. And of course this is not unique to EA. We are very aware of other services with similarly draconian bans, and are actively investigating them.

So be warned. There’s no legal recourse here. The EA terms are clearly laid out, and you are required to agree to them before you can install a game they provide. And their rules are ambiguous enough that they can choose to ban you at their own discretion. Oh, and of course it can all be avoided by just not posting on their forums. Or at least not being rude if you do.

EDIT: All this makes it a bit strange that three years ago EA told Shack News that they’d certainly not allow forum bans to affect game playing.

“Posting in EA Forums is enabled by an EA Nucleus account — but access to the forums and access to the games are separate. Players who have been banned from EA Forums are not automatically banned from online access to their other EA games. Players can be banned if they breach the Terms of Service or Code of Conduct in a forum, game or service. Each forum, game and service is managed independently by customer support representatives responsible for that specific forum, game or service.”

So, er. Thanks to kyrieee for the tip.

EDIT EDIT: The moderator responsible for dealing with this incident has got back to us. I asked him to explain why this happens, and for how long a ban could potentially last. His reply, quite bizarrely, was:

“Sorry, but I have no comment for you.”

So there you go.

, , , , , .

309 Comments »

Sponsored links by Taboola
  1. NukeLord says:

    So EA are taking a leaf out of Valve’s book now?

    • kharnevil says:

      Wait, wait, do Valve have precedent on this?

      *starts thinking about all the complaints initiated about King Arthur & Battlestations”

    • NukeLord says:

      Steam subscription T&C say Valve can ban you any time for any reason they like.

    • Premium User Badge

      cyberninja says:

      Yes, but at least the steam forums are separate from the client.

  2. obvioustroll says:

    Has anyone answered the question… have they sold their souls to the EA devil?

    • georgemoshington says:

      they sold their souls to make baldur’s gate II the masterpiece it was. now the devil has come back to pick up the tab.

  3. x25killa says:

    Not going on the forums then. Problem solved.

  4. Anyxxi says:

    Tweeted this:

    @ea @dragonage #ea #dragonage #dragonageII #bioware “Have you sold your souls to the EA devil?” Ban me too — cspeters@gmail.com

    I’m curious if they will. At this point, I don’t care. I’ve been trying to ignore how they’ve been pissing in my pocket because I liked the Dragon Age mythos THAT MUCH, but this is too much. Screw Dragon Age II, screw Bioware, screw EA.

  5. bwion says:

    Whether it’s legal or not (and I can’t even begin to speculate), this is terrible, terrible business. If I were in EA’s or Bioware’s customer service department, particularly in any kind of management capacity, I’d be dreading work today.I literally cannot see any advantages for EA here.

    Sure, they have the guy’s money whether he can play his new shiny game or not, but they almost certainly won’t have his repeat business. And customer retention is the holy grail of just about any business.

  6. Hatsworth says:

    I think I’ll just avoid this issue by not buying EA games. Congrats EA!

  7. Duffin says:

    Valve have been doing this forever but I don’t remember seeing a front page post about that.

    • Lilliput King says:

      Exactly. Like I said above, Valve actually dish out perma-bans for this shit, which isn’t something EA/Bioware have done yet.

    • Premium User Badge

      JB says:

      From the article: “And of course this is not unique to EA. We are very aware of other services with similarly draconian bans, and are actively investigating them.”

    • suibhne says:

      Wait, you’re saying that Valve bans people’s Steam accounts for objectionable forum posts? I thought Steam bans and forum bans were two totally different critters for Valve.

      The complaint here isn’t that EA’s banning accounts. It’s that EA is conflating forum bans with account bans.

    • Premium User Badge

      TheApologist says:

      Yeah what suibnhe said – there are two related issues here and the article and comments tend to conflate them.

      One issue is should a games service provider such as EA or Valve be able to prevent a user from using the services they have purchased.

      The other is, on what basis might a service provider be generally regarded as justified in taking such action.

      Valve certainly do ban people, but the instances I have heard publicised in the games media have been in relation to cheating in online multiplayer games. So they are certainly relevant to discussion on the first basis. But most people wouldn’t equate a forum post criticizing the provider with cheating in online games.

    • Duffin says:

      Two people on the forums in the last couple of weeks. One had a problem with his paypal account stopping a payment to Steam. The other put a link on the Steam forums to a Steam hacking website. Both had their WHOLE accounts banned, allegedly thousands of pounds worth of games locked from their owners.

      The guy who EA banned got just his EA published games locked for 72 hours for a slightly provocative forum post.

      Yet the EA example is front page news immediately after it happened. Whilst the cases concerning Valve haven’t received any coverage at all despite the injured parties involved emailing the hivemind. Why not? It reeks of favouritism.

    • dux says:

      @Duffin – The second example I have no problem with. If someone is stupid enough to link to a Steam hacking website on the Steam forums then they deserve to get their account banned, so I’m not surprised it didn’t make front page news.

      As for the first example, I’ve also heard of a few people having problems with Paypal stopping payments, but TBH that’s more a problem with Paypal itself than it is to do with Valve. I do agree that banning access to a whole account is harsh and only access to the game(s) in question should be restricted and/or removed from the account, but in each of the examples I’ve seen the issue has been resolved through Steam support and access to the accounts reinstated once Paypal has got its act together and sorted it out. Moral of the story – don’t use Paypal if at all possible.

    • Premium User Badge

      wengart says:

      How did Valve manage to ban them for what they did on the forum? Last time I checked my forum account and my Steam account are not connected.;

  8. mandrill says:

    Pirate it and you don’t have to put up with any of that shit.

    When are games publishers (not developers but the suits in charge of the money) going to realise that every time they screw legitimate customers over with behaviour like this that its just going to drive more and more people to pirate games?

    Lets look at their track record so far:
    Over-priced products: Pirates 1 Publishers 0
    Draconian DRM: Pirates 1 Publishers 0
    No Extra Crap (GFWL, Steam, etc): Pirates 1 Publishers 0
    EULA which strips you of your rights as a consumer: Pirates 1 Publishers 0
    Denying you access to a product which you have legitimately paid for: Pirates 1 Publishers 0

    If there is a war on piracy then it is being lost very dramatically by the Publishers and the legitimate customers that they’re scamming out of their cash.

    • Kadayi says:

      Yeah let’s pirate EVERYTHING!!!

      /s

    • mandrill says:

      That’s not what I’m saying at all. What I’m saying is that if the games industry seriously wants to minimize piracy then it is going about it in entirely the wrong way. Instead of adding value to their products that the pirates can’t (though this is changing slowly) they are making the legitimate versions of their products less and less appealing.

      From the customer’s point of view there is no good reason not to pirate in an awful lot of cases (apart from the moral/legal/ethical one, but when have moral considerations ever trumped individual comfort and convenience lets be honest?)

      When you have no more rights to use the product that you have legitimately paid for than those laid down by those you buy it from, and these rights can be withdrawn seemingly on a whim, then an alternative which bypasses the whole hassle of having to deal with an unreasonable amount of guff from publishers begins to look more and more appealing.

      Publishers should be offering carrots rather than trying to use sticks of balsa wood against people wearing plate armour.

    • Kadayi says:

      @mandrill

      Whose paying the developers? Think about it.

  9. Kadayi says:

    Call me cynical, but before reaching for the Torches & Pitchforks I’d like to see something that supports this Arno’s assertions regarding what he did in order to breach EAs policy. So far it just seems to be a case of taking him at his word. How about some investigative journalism on the matter?

    Nice to see the calls to piracy popping up btw…classy as always people.

    • GenBanks says:

      There’s NO possible reason to ban someone from playing a SINGLE PLAYER game they bought imo. No matter what you’re doing in it it won’t affect anyone else.

    • Kadayi says:

      I want to see the evidence he was actually banned. So far we’ve just one side of the story.

    • Premium User Badge

      Crimsoneer says:

      Bioware provides a SERVICE.

      You walk into a barber, and telling him he’s shit at cutting hair, expect him to tell you to jog on.

      Same thing goes for games. Seems perfectly rational.

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      More like, a barber cuts your hair, and when he’s done you regard the creation and let him know your unfavourable opinion: “It looks like you went at it with the hedge trimmer.”

      Suddenly, your hair is no longer cut.

      Actually, scratch that, that’s much better than the current situation.

    • Memph says:

      @Crimsoneer
      not so much. the difference being your barber doesn’t then take all their haircuts back, they can’t, at least without doc brown ricing their car.

      you can’t analogize a single use service that’s paid for and completed on the spot with purchasing a product, or subscription service (that you can’t even use yet in this instance) and then being denied it’s use further down the line.
      ‘Service’ i feel is a misnomer anyway when applied to T&Cs and especially for a single player game that only requires said ‘service’ in the first place because of mandatory DRM.

    • dux says:

      It’s not rational at all. When I go into GAME or HMV to buy the latest piece of EA shovelware, I don’t get interrogated at the counter and forced to promise to only ever say nice things about EA and its business practises.

      At the end of the day, you’re buying a companies product, and you should not have to encounter difficulties in using said product just because you made a single off-the-cuff remark intended for comedic effect. Entering a store and insulting the proprietor has no comparative value whatsoever.

      In these tough economic times, companies should not be going out of their way to ostracise and alienate their customer base. That’s just plain stupid.

    • Kadayi says:

      @dux

      The guy is a troll nothing more. If he were getting squashed over a legitimate complaint then that would be something (the truth being suppressed), but this (if it is to be believed) is just a case of an overbearing mod.

    • GenBanks says:

      @Crimsoneer it’s not a service at all. It’s a self-contained product. World of Warcraft is maybe a service because you’re provided access to lots of other players in the world whose enjoyment could be affected by your actions, and they need to run servers and a moderation team to enable and protect that.

      In DA2, you bought the product, and it wouldn’t matter at all if your game and the computer it’s running on were forever disconnected from the outside world. Whatever you do in the game affects only your own enjoyment of it.

      And anyway, however much you want to defend the right of this company to remove YOUR consumer rights, it still boils down to the fact that there is NO POINT in banning someone’s game account because of being a dick in the forum. You’ve already stopped him in his tracks by banning his forum account, why the need for a disproportionate response? I hate trolls as much as anyone, but this is a matter that shapes our rights as gamers/consumers in the long term.

    • Kadayi says:

      @GenBanks
      So far I haven’t seen any evidence to suggest the guy was even suspended, or if it was actually for simply saying “Have you sold your souls to the EA devil?”. For all anyone knows the reality is he got suspended for using hacks in BC2, or posting up pornography links. There is merely so far a general assumption that his account was suspended for saying what he said, because that’s his version of events.
      If he felt he’d been mistreated in some way I’m fairly sure EA have a support system in place to deal with those kind of issues and reach a resolution. Those are the people he should be contacting, not game journalists.
      I’m fairly disappointed that RPS even ran this non – story tbh. It’s Friday, loads of people got wasted in Japan by a Tsunami, but let’s all get indignant over the ‘alleged’ 3 day suspension of some pointless ‘EA are evil’ troll. Quality. Still I guess when baby needs some new shoes, page hits are more important than standards.

  10. LennyLeonardo says:

    Seems to me that stories like this do more damage to publishers than any ‘Wah wah company x sux” forum post ever can.

    That’s what makes this so unbelievable: that, whatever your moral perspective, this is just seriously bad PR, generated by a moderator who was ostensibly trying to limit bad PR on the forum.

    Does not compute.

  11. laddyman says:

    I did not watch my buddies die face down in the muck so that this fucking strumpet…

  12. mondomau says:

    I feel a few people are missing the point here –

    1.) Valve never, to the best of my knowledge, banned anyone from their entire steam account for being a prat on the message boards

    2.) The whole argument about whether this guy deserved it is irrelevant – If companies are allowed to ban people from access to bought games for something unrelated to the game itself, how long before they begin (seriously) abusing that privilege?

    • Lilliput King says:

      1) They have before and I dare say they will again.

      http://www.pcgamer.com/forum/showthread.php?t=6846

    • Astalano says:

      Voicing an opinion and linking to a pirate site and 2 totally different things.

    • Premium User Badge

      TeraTelnet says:

      Well, your counter-example was of a chap that posted a link to a flipping Steam hack site in a Steam chatroom. Not quite the same as ‘being mean on the internet’.

    • mondomau says:

      Ok, but:
      a.) One example.
      b.) How do we know that’s all there is to the story, or that the guy’s being totally honest?
      c.) Linking to crack/warez sites is different to being a prat.
      Try again Y/N ?

      :P

    • Axyl says:

      a) Irrelevant and unconnected example
      b) We don’t, but that’s not what we’re discussing. We’re discuss the fact that the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.
      c) Yes they’re different you moron. Legally different as well. Plus, one was actively enabling and promoting the use of illegal steam hacks, and the other was calling EA/Bioware a mean name.

      I called you a Moron. Does this mean that I’m breaking the law? Does this mean that if my house was raided by police, this would be taken into account along with any pirated software i may have? No. It doesn’t.

      You’re a fool, and EA/Bioware have crossed a fucking line. End of.

    • Starky says:

      That PC gamer link is a nice example of digital selection – anyone stupid enough to link to a steam hack site, on a steam forum with STEAM MODERATORS in the chat is so beyond retarded that they deserve to lose their account.

    • mondomau says:

      Axyl,
      Whoops!
      I fear you may have misunderstood – my response was to Lilliputking, who gave me a single paper thin example of Valve apparently doing the same shit as EA.
      In fact, all the replies here are to my original comment where I express more or less same sentiment as you :p

    • Deano2099 says:

      Err, while the Steam guy arguable ‘deserved’ it far more than this one the point is that it’s the EXACT SAME terms and conditions in the EULA that allowed Valve to ban that guy as allow EA to ban this guy. We can all draw the line wherever we want, but there’s no legal line here. EA can ban people for whatever reason they want, so can Steam.

      In the Steam case, the guy eventually got his account back, but Steam made it quite clear that it was a goodwill gesture and they could do whatever they liked.

      Personally I’d argue that it’s not Valve’s job to directly punish consumers, even if they do something illegal. That’s why we have the law and legal process. I mean, take for example a guy that posts a link to child pornography on EA’s forums. Clearly he’s a dick. A grade A arsehole that deserves everything he gets. He should be locked up. But even then, should EA take his games away? I mean, it’s got nothing to do with them has it?

    • Premium User Badge

      wengart says:

      The guy Valve banned was in a Steam chat thats different than the forum and I suspect that if he had posted that link in the Steam forum his forum account would be banned, but his Steam Account would remain operational because they are not connected.

  13. GenBanks says:

    Wow, that’s fucking disgraceful.

    I don’t care if they were right to ban him from the forum, it shouldn’t affect his ability to play a bloody SINGLE PLAYER GAME…

  14. Talorc says:

    Quite frankly, it is like they are pretty much daring and /or trolling their loyal, paying customers to pirate their flipping game.

    Want to play our brand new hot game at the same time as all your other mates around the world on internet gaming forum XYZ? Too bad little man, you have to wait a couple of days to suit our arbitrary retail crap! Even if you want to buy it digitally – hahaha!!

    Played along with our BS pre release marketing hoopla and earned some of our 19 pre release “entitlements”? (YES NINETEEN FOR CHRIS SAKES!!) Loyally bought our game at retail and waited for the unlock time?

    BETTER NOT SAY ANYTHING NASTY TO US OR YOU ARE GONE PUNK!!

    They might as well just put a bloody hyperlink in the EULA / Terms of Service to somewhere to download the game crack / pirate version so you don’t have to deal with their stupid shit.

  15. Premium User Badge

    Big Murray says:

    The guy was obviously a bit of a Richard-head. But if you start taking your customers products that they’ve purchased away from them because you don’t like the way your customers talk, you’re pretty soon going to find out that you don’t have any customers.

  16. Delusibeta says:

    Old news. There was a similar case involving the Battlefield forums a couple of years back. Except that case was a permaban. Not to mention the dozens of similar cases involving Steam (and other digital distributors, but usually Steam).

  17. Unaco says:

    Wow. Seems like Bioware have sold their soul to the EA Devil.

  18. SRSavior says:

    Fuck EA. Seriously. I am not trying to flame, but I am really angry that EA owns Bioware. EA represents all of the bureaucratic nonsense in the gaming industry. EA represents what happens when stupid people who know nothing about games get a master’s degree in Business Administration, and then go on to buy and sell companies.

    I would advocate for piracy in this instance. I think Dragon Age 2 is an alright game so far, but I will never pay for it, or any other product from EA. I have pirated copies of many of their games that I do enjoy, but, as a consumer, I do not support their business practices and release history.

    Even Dragon Age 2, a game that was pretty well hyped up, was released with bugs, a certain lack of polish, because EA wanted it released ahead of schedule. Fuck them.

    Hopefully, gamers who have a conscience will actually make a difference by refusing to pay for shoddy products, or from companies that never cared about the people who bought their games, just that they buy them.

  19. Deano2099 says:

    No need to resort to piracy.

    As long as you buy from a shop and not direct download, your contract with the retailer is different to one you agree with EA when you install the game. If you get home, find you can’t play the game as your account is banned, you take it back to the shop, say it’s unfit for purpose and get a refund. That’s legally allowed.

    If the game then starts working again in 72 hours when the temp ban expires, well lucky you.

    Yes, that’s clearly fraud. So is what Bioware is doing. But the laws to sort all this don’t exist yet, so EA are exploiting what currently exists. I suggest everyone else does the same.

    If EA want to make access to their games entirely account-based rather than based on the project or disc, then they’ll have to deal with the consequences of people exploiting that as long as games are still sold as physical products.

    • mandrill says:

      Good luck with that. Most retailers operate on a policy of once the seal on the cellophane is broken, you can’t take it back. Right or wrong you will have to go through endless amounts of hassle to get a refund or even an exchange on a PC game. I know this because I used to work at GAME and we were told never to refund a PC title, no matter what laws were quoted at us. We were to refer the customer to our customer service department, from where it would go to legal and be dealt with from there. I’m sure that in the majority of cases people got their money back if they could be bothered with the bureacracy, but I doubt many people did.

      They do this at the behest of publishers who are trying to combat piracy (once you’ve broken the seal what’s stopping you from taking an image of the disc.)

    • Premium User Badge

      oceanclub says:

      Has anyone tried the equivalent of the small claims court (*) after attempting to get a refund for a PC game for a valid reason and being refused?

      (*) Irish one described here: http://www.courts.ie/courts.ie/Library3.nsf/PageCurrentWebLookUpTopNav/Small%20Claims%20Procedure

    • Archonsod says:

      Funnily enough I’ve found Game tend to back down on that policy as soon as the words court, solicitor or trading standards are mentioned.

    • Deano2099 says:

      @mandrill

      Just out of interest, what happened when you got a stubborn bastard like me in there? I mean I’d be polite, but I’d damn well stay there until I got my refund or you called the police to remove me from the store. And be sure to tell everyone else in the store why I was there. You want me to talk to legal you damn well call up legal and get one of them down here to talk to me. It’s not my job to chase.

      Alternatively, buy it on a credit card and if the retailer does refuse a refund just do a chargeback.

      It’s obviously hugely open to abuse as DA2 has no disc check, so once I’ve registered the code the game is effectively worthless. But then, GAME are the one selling service contracts without getting anyone to sign anything and selling them as goods. If they’re being taken for a ride that’s for them to sort with the publishers.

    • 7rigger says:

      @Deano2099
      I’ve worked in GAME and GameStation, and in both cases if you stood and kicked up a stink they’d just ask you to leave. PC customers aren’t worth anything to them and they wouldn’t really worry about losing you to another retailer.

      I know that after my store got ripped off by PC gamers (When they still had a ten day return policy) the company lost a ton of money and the policy got stopped (What’s a few customer complaints? There’s nowhere else to go for games) and the PC section started to shrink from one whole wall to barely one metre of wall space.

      True that this is really a disagreement between the publishers and the retailers (GAME weren’t informed about online registration, and took back copies of mmo’s opened and redeemed in the early days) that has simply caught customers in the middle.

      In my experience, getting on the phone to their customer services will usually solve the problem

  20. Xiyng says:

    And here I thought EA’s been getting a lot better for the last few years. Guess I was wrong, I don’t think I’m buying too many EA games from now on. Luckily the only loss, I think, will be Battlefield 3.

  21. MiniMatt says:

    Interesting split at moment between reviewer scores and user scores on Metacritic – currently 84/100 reviewer score and 3.9/10 user score. Doesn’t seem to be internet shenanigans either but a genuine split between reviewer’s opinions and end users. A split not really seen in other games (eg Bulletstorm reviewer = 83, user = 7.8.

    (tinfoil) Out of main review sites and end users, only one of these groups are currently plastered in (presumably paid for) EA advertising

  22. Baka says:

    So, when’s the Wot I Think coming?
    Reaaaally curious what one of you has to say about this game.

  23. jti says:

    Yet another reason to pirate the game. They are making it really hard for us to want to be a paying customer, that is for sure.

  24. StreetCleaner says:

    So, in short, the answer is Yes, they have sold their souls to the EA devil.

  25. cjlr says:

    The capability to do this has been around for a long time; not just EA, but anything on Steam, or Impulse, etc… Some of us called it years ago, if you’ll recall.

    If you try to return a game by saying, “I don’t agree to the licence agreement” you’ll get laughed at. That’s illegal, on one or both ends, but shit, nobody I know who would care has anything near the money or time necessary to get a firm legal precedent set.

  26. blackmane says:

    So, you buy a car, get the keys to it.

    You troll the car company´s forums, get banned from the forums and they take the key for the car from you?

    Yeah… right… *facepalm*

    Where is this going to end? Unavailable DRM-servers? D´oh!!

    • Archonsod says:

      Nah, it’s more like you park your car in a company car park, act like a dick to the company manager so they kick you off the premises and don’t let you in to pick up your car.

      Of course, when that happens in the real world they even have the cheek to charge you for parking and then clamping and towing services.

  27. Grey_Ghost says:

    Absolutely ridiculous! Banning someone from their single player games over a damn forum comment? It’s no wonder the whole EA = EVIL thing continues to propagate.

    • Kadayi says:

      Suspended, not banned.

    • Grey_Ghost says:

      Technically yes, but look at the post itself, mentions Bans quite a bit so I guess that is why I used banned. My post still stands however.

  28. frenz0rz says:

    In a comment thread consisting almost entirely of both Steam and EA bashing, I feel it my duty as a faithful RPS reader to have a go at Games for Windows Live for being shit. Just throwing that one out there.

    • Ravenger says:

      You forgot to mention DRM, especially UbiDRM. :-)

    • Deano2099 says:

      Isn’t that like the one thing GfWL does well though? Wasn’t this in the Sunday Papers this week? That for its many, many flaws, GfWL downloads will still play without the client or the single player works without being logged in or something?

  29. hjd_uk says:

    I’m already boycotting Activision, if I keep the Moral high-ground I’m not going to get to play any games at all – stop being such self-centered bullying pricks, mega-publishers!

  30. Binman88 says:

    After reading about this, I briefly thought to myself: “well, people should just not be dicks and they won’t have to worry about being banned”. Then I realised how inconsequential such a remark is, and how petty EA are being by doing this to their own paying customers. If anything, Bioware/EA should be the bigger man and ignore or simply delete the comment. There’s nothing big about preventing a frustrated customer from playing their game.

  31. Vinraith says:

    More games-as-service bullshit. When you allow publishers to treat something you bought for $50 as a revokable-for-any-reason-at-any-time service, this is the kind of thing that happens. Expect more of it, and take precautions where possible.

    • Premium User Badge

      mcnostril says:

      Didn’t you hear? The new trend is $60 now.
      Wooo.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Support your local indie. It’s the only way. As indie studios grow, they’ll be capable of creating more ambitious games. Just hope they stay small enough so they’re not sucked into the vortex of evil.

      Every year, it’s becoming easier to resist the temptation of buying AAA games. No shooters with big single-player campaigns, no RPGs with deep gameplay, etc. There’s literally nobody making most of the games I want to play – I fully expect Deus Ex 3, Thief 4, and Skyrim to be mainstream-ified piles of shit.

      I’m down to Football Manager and a big pile of indies. And some quality time with DOSBox, replaying a bunch of games I was a bit too young to appreciate the first time around.

  32. Robert says:

    People disgust me.

    Both the pact of the devil you must make to play EA games, (referring not the incident, but the absolute power you give them) and the people that use this to validate their criminal behaviour : piracy.

    Disgusting, the lot of you.

  33. v_ware says:

    Hey, I am the suspended guy.

    I like the article John. ;) Thanks for bringing these kind of practices in the spotlight.

    For all you cynics: John contacted me and I sent him screenscaps of emails, forumthreads, pm’ing with Stanley Woo…. He did his job thorough.

    You’ll also see something on reclaimyourgame.com, they too have contacted me, and have asked for proof, which I provided.

    Too bad, this is reality.

    Arno
    x

  34. Premium User Badge

    Rinox says:

    On the bright side, the 50 € I save on not buying DA2 will in part be spent on a new graphics card for when The Witcher 2 comes out.

  35. Pemptus says:

    Wow, it’s like they’re terrified of my money. That’s ok, I’ll stop scaring them.

  36. Premium User Badge

    heretic says:

    This really isn’t good news for EA or Bioware, a lot of people will be thrown by this, regardless of whether the dude is a troll or not :-/ this is just not good for business…

    Bioware used to be a legendary company, I will never pay for any of their games again.

  37. ChromeBallz says:

    Actually, there is a pretty solid legal recourse to be taken. Clickwrap agreements usually come only after the game code has been used on your account (and therefore made impossible to return to the store). Essentially you’re buying something and only offered the terms of usage AFTER you spend money up to the point where it’s non-returnable.

    I fail to see how any (not absolutely corrupted) judge would ever validate this. I added the corruption disclaimer because i already heard of some precedents set here >_>

    EA would save them a LOT of trouble in the future if their bans would only apply to the online part of games.

  38. Valvarexart says:

    So, the best way to actually “own” a game is to pirate it? Hah, sure thing! Be right back, downloading DA2. Might pay for it later if it’s any good. Oh wait, it’s not. No big deal, huh, not my loss, right?

  39. Turbobutts says:

    End of line.

  40. colinmarc says:

    RAGE RAGE RAGE. I’ll be mad when they start banning people left and right for no reason. I quite like the game and I’m going to go play it.

  41. Duckmeister says:

    I have registered just to say this:

    THIS IS NOT NEW.

    VALVE HAS BEEN DOING THIS FOR A VERY LONG TIME.

    If any of you ever bothered to read the fine print on Valve’s “Steam Subscriber Agreement”, you would see that you do not own any of the games you purchase, and Valve reserves the right to take away your access to them at any time, for no reason whatsoever.

    This isn’t just for cheaters that VAC detects. It is for everyone.

    This is why I cannot stand all of the praise that Valve is being given, seeing as these kinds of draconian measures are being used against both cheaters and innocent people every day.

    Remember the “you owe me sixty dollars” debacle with the Modern Warfare 2 VAC false positives? That wasn’t the first time that had happened. There are many documented cases of false positives happening in other games, and the only reason why Valve reversed the bans (which is against their stated policy) is because the story actually got to the press.

    As with any online service (excluding very few), when you purchase a game, it functions only as a semi-permanent rental, you will never own that game.

    If this kind of hate is to be directed at Bioware and EA, I suggest that you look at the forerunner of these types of schemes.

    • Stupoider says:

      Or perhaps we’ll focus on the subject at hand. Do people usually get their Steam accounts and games banned for unruly forum posts?

      Regarding the article, I did enjoy the irony of the comment made and the retaliation.

    • Memph says:

      To my knowledge at least, you cannot have your Steam account banned by doing whatever they deem to be misbehaving on the forums, only your forum account (although i’m inclined to believe it possible if you really, really try for it). Whereas it may be easy to land a forum ban from a tetchy mod on occasion, that said Steam’s forums are rather liberal with how much off-the-cuff ranting and raving (against valve and their games in particular) one can get away with, without it being deleted on the spot, at least compared to other dev/publisher hosted sites. I have never heard of a full Steam account ban of any length for simply posting opinions, however troll-flavoured and dickish.

      Generally your forum and steam accounts are completely seperate (so if you do use the same logins for both – change them, stat). You have a 3rd account seperate entirely for tech support so being locked from one does not knacker any hopes of at least requestiing help.

      Yes, i see where you’re coming from though. Steam is as dodgy a ground as any other license agreement for those who think they own every title bought on there forever, regardless of anything and i do very strongly feel it’s something consumers must openly identify as a massive problem and be very loud about our concerns regarding where we will in fact stand when/if a service eventually goes down / is taken away and we instantly lose a grand’s worth of games just because said services tie-in launcher UI no longer works. It’s a very uncomfortable thought for those who deem games today to be the same value as those purchased on cartridge. I can still plug in a NES and play the Megaman & Final Fantasy games i bought, or even get 16bit PC games going with a bit of technical fiddlery, but can i really say the same for playing Mass Effect or Portal, 10 – 15 years down the line? They may compare games to music with regard to a user not ‘owning’ it, but i can still put a knackered old Beatles LP on my stereo and it won’t spit out 3 pages of legalese bollocks explaining in nonsensical made-up terms why i can’t listen to it anymore.

      In this particular instance though, without clear citation Valve can’t be directly linked to this truely draconian brand of banning users willy-nilly merely for the posting of disparaging remarks on their forums, of which there are squillions (blimey, just look at the L4D forums when more L4D2 DLC is announced).

    • Duckmeister says:

      Does it matter? The point is that these companies don’t have to have a reason to deactivate your account and take away games that you have purchased. False accusations of cheating, unruly forum posts, etc. are all justifications for a much more potentially (and sometimes realized) sinister thing. Theft.

    • Deano2099 says:

      Err, if you read the article a bit more carefully, you’ll see John basically says that they’re investigating Steam AS WE SPEAK:

      “And of course this is not unique to EA. We are very aware of other services with similarly draconian bans, and are actively investigating them.”

      There’s also a good chunk of discussion on Steam doing this over on the RPS forums (see the thread entitled ‘Disabled’)

    • Duckmeister says:

      I am aware of that “investigation” line you mention, but I think something as widely used as Steam requires at least a namecheck, not just a “we’ll be looking at other services” line. That’s not specific enough. Steam has always had this from the very beginning, back when CGW was getting letters from military men about not being able to play Half-Life 2 while on deployment (and people think Ubisoft was the first in always-online DRM).

      I think people overlook too many problems that Steam has, simply because Valve is the company who makes it, and there’s some unwritten agreement that Valve is incapable of doing wrong. I guess any company who runs “outrageous” sales on games licenses to access games can get away with a lot. Reminds me of a saying, “Sell it at 50% off, then make ‘em buy it twice”.

    • Deano2099 says:

      Fair enough, but this is part of Walker’s brilliant RIGHTEOUS Games Journalism and investigative reporting stuff. And one of the key aspects of that is the way he is ‘doing proper journalism’ which means fully investigating all sides, getting rights to reply and all that stuff.

      If he offhandedly mentioned “oh Steam do this as well” then he’d have to go to Steam and ask them for their position and it’s an entire other article. Which I don’t doubt it will be. But not actually naming Steam works nicely around that.

  42. mouj says:

    When i was a kid and did not know better, i’d play pirated games; eversince i’ve been able to, i’ve been very happy to pay for the games i want to play : even if it’s a minor pebble i’m adding, it feels like i’m supporting an industry i love. I don’t mean that paying for it implies they owe something to me other than the ability to play it, and if a problem shows up, some kind of customer service.

    But if i can’t express my opinion or frustration about something, especially something i paid for happily, it feels like i’m being muzzled. One surely needs to be reasonnable in their comments, in the ways to express frustration or discontent, but this sounds more like a general rule of behaviour to me.. and it so happens that people may get over their heads too.

    EA / Bioware’s reaction here seems a wee bit out of proportion, i guess if it were to happen to me, even if i had been silly in my behaviour, i’d feel upset and i’d want my money back.
    They make games, and as any other product, it can be flawed, or not correspond to what i was expecting when buying it, but should the fact that i bought it bind me to not being able to say something about it, in the fear that by doing so, i may be unable of using it ? Or am i being idealistic here ?

    For all it’s worth, it’s at least good to know how far it can go and how far their “power” over use of their products extends, be it ‘legal’ or not in the way it would stand up in court.

  43. Beardface says:

    God, I hope they use this more often. Would get rid of some of the mind-numbing idiocy found amongst their forum users.

  44. bhlaab says:

    The lesson? Always read the EULA! It will include vital information about the product except when it doesn’t:

    http://vividgamer.com/2011/03/10/ea-fails-to-disclose-securom-in-dragon-age-ii/

    “After losing the lawsuits over the mishandling of DRM in Spore and The Sims 2, EA was compelled to make full disclosure whenever SecuROM was included in one of their products,”

    “We have CONFIRMED from testing that it DOES contain SecuROM, and that it DOES leave files behind. We can also confirm that nowhere on the package, in the EULA or on the Website for the game is thee ANY mention of the inclusion of SecuROM. EA had been ordered by the courts to disclose the use of SecuROM on any game that uses it. And it is contradictory of what Bioware has been saying for the last 3 weeks.”

    • Kaira- says:

      Oh wow, it’s as if they don’t think their customers deserve any kind of truth and respect.
      Wasn’t DA2 promoted to take timeframe of 10 years, but only seven were included? (because I haven’t played the game and I really don’t know, it’s just a hearsay)
      Also, forgetting to include auto-attack on console-versions and telling about it some 12 hours before unlocking [http://social.bioware.com/forum/1/topic/141/index/6395493/4 BioWare’s answer on page 3]

  45. HeavyStorm says:

    What I really would want is for someone (read RPS) talk to some legal experts — layers and whatnot, and check if this kind of T&C is legal.

    First thing to note is that a citizen cannot abdicate from a right or “privilege” granted by law. Meaning that if the T&C goes against whatever consumer code the country in which it was signed, then the T&C is illegal. Otherwise it would be possible, for example, to agree on being killed and it would be murder.

    So, that said, it doesn’t see to me that all those EULAs are legal. Even though they make it seems like you are hiring a service when buying a game, you are not. The reason I think makes this clear is that, if it was a service, then there should be a service level agreement (SLA) between the provider and the customer. But they also state that the software comes with no guarantees, may have bugs and other issues, etc., and are sold “as is”. Besides, when hiring a service, I expect that, once I suspend it, I would no longer be charged. But if I bought it “for life”, then I’ve already paid. So there should be a refund.

    Moreover, the EULA is single-sided (is that the correct term?), because the publisher (provider) can suspend the service at any time, by a non-stated number of rules, but you can’t (of course, since there would be no benefits).

    Finally, I think that the user’s freedom of speech was compromised at that particular event. He was banned to express his feelings over a game. Of course, that is a forum rule, but again I return to the previous topic: a Forum cannot have a rule that goes against a country laws. So maybe EA wanted to shut someone up, and are trying to make it legal by a bunch of legal terms that are “automagically” singed if you push a button in a screen (bullshit, in my opinion — has no validity — what if I can’t read?).

    • Deano2099 says:

      I imagine these things are just about on the right side of the law, but only because the law hasn’t caught up yet. They trample all over the spirit of consumer protection legislation, and in 10 years time I’m confident this sort of thing will be illegal.

      The problem is getting the legislation passed when most of the lawmakers don’t use the service in question.

      The second problem is the sheer amount of apologists amongst gamers who defend practices like this, or those who have got so used to this stuff creeping up on us that they just roll over. Just for fun, try explaining this, or the people who got Steam accounts banned to a non-gamer friend. They’ll be genuinely shocked and astounded that this stuff goes on. Because frankly it’s the biggest trampling of consumer rights I’ve ever seen in my life.

  46. Delusibeta says:

    Did I mention this is old news? http://forum.ea.com/eaforum/posts/list/1075227.page http://forum.ea.com/eaforum/posts/list/446573.page

    It’s not really news, since it’s enshrined in the Terms of Service. (See also the following Reddit comment: http://www.reddit.com/r/gamernews/comments/g1y4u/ea_forum_bans_can_lock_you_out_of_games/c1kc1te?context=3 )

    I look forward to JOHN WALKER JOURNALISM on EULAs and companies finally being able to follow through with them.

  47. Premium User Badge

    Carra says:

    Haven’t seen any EA hating posts lately. Activision seems to be the bad guy these days.

    Glad to see that EA is still evil.

  48. My2CENTS says:

    Haha guess why EA uses Persona’s everywhere, they just want the customers to hate them, pretty much like VALVE – they fuck up their legit users too. What’s the morale of the story – don’t use EA forums for any reason, 99% of the time they are not helpful at all.

  49. Resin says:

    This is why I stay far away from any game account related forums. EA can shoot themselves in the PR foot as much as they like because their foot is huge and cloven hoofed, they do not need their customers to like them to avoid pirating they just need more draconian DRM. They are big business and frankly I like some of the products they make. At the end of the day this is one more why I support Indie developers. I’ll still play big budget games, they can do somethings that the little guys can’t – I just won’t participate on their forums or have any sense of brand/company loyalty.

  50. hamster says:

    Erm constitutional rights only apply to government agencies from what i recall…they don’t govern individuals.