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Origin Lifting Sanction-Fuelled Block Against Myanmar

I get it: keeping up with news is bor-ing. It’s all, “This person said this, the other person said that” with only brief joy in “this skateboarding otter saved that family from a fire” before plunging back into “our country invaded that country, this policy is doing that” and it’s like ugh, I’ll wait until Hollywood make movies out of the exciting bits, thanks.

So I entirely understand why EA have overzealously blocked Origin users in certain countries, blaming trade sanctions that are already lifted: it’s all boring to keep up with.

Over the weekend, someone living in Myanmar (also known as Burma) posted on Reddit that they had, some time after early September, started getting “access denied” messages when trying to log into Origin. This meant they couldn’t play any of the games they’d bought. The initial response from an EA representative explained:

“The short answer here is that this occurred due to the US government trade embargo on Myanmar. In accordance with US law, EA is legally required to restrict online services to residents of countries that are embargoed. This isn’t an EA-specific issue — it’s an issue that impacts all companies offering services that are covered by trade embargoes.

“As the OP has noted, the embargo on Myanmar appear to have been lifted earlier this month. Accordingly, EA is internally reviewing the situation and looking into whether and when service can be restored to Myanmar residents.

“It’s unclear to me whether we can do anything for residents of other countries that are still similarly embargoed, but I’ll bring the topic up for discussion internally.”

EA had apparently let people buy and play games from Myanmar into September, which is a bit funny as trade embargoes have been against Myanmar for many years – and the Origin block supposedly came after the US had announced plans to lift them. The sanctions were formally lifted on October 7th.

So yes, the Myanmar block is going. An EA community manager followed-up yesterday:

“We are working to restore access to Origin for our players in Myanmar. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused, and we’ll share updates on timing as soon as possible.”

Myanmar isn’t the only country blocked on Origin due to trade embargoes. Other places affected include Iran, Cuba, and North Korea. Yes, some Iranian players reported in September that they too had been blocked and lost access to games they’d paid for and previously played.

It looks like EA did a bit of a sanction sweep, deciding that the trade embargoes required them to be stricter than they once had. Some have accused EA of being overzealous, of taking unncessary steps to make double-sure their bum was covered, but I couldn’t tell you whether those accusations are warranted. The timing of the blockfest and the Myanmar sanctions lifting does make it look jolly silly, though.

That there digital distribution and DRM, eh? Quite the sticky wicket. But did you hear about the one-legged fox who became best friends with a baby after saving it from a crashed car?

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Alice O'Connor

News Editor

When not writing news, Alice may be found in the sea.

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