So this is interesting. After we've hounded EA for over a year about their bans preventing players from accessing single-player games, and after a year of receiving peculiarly ambiguous statements, and promises to fix things in time periods that now gather dust, EA has finally (a full year since we first raised the issue with them) partly fixed this issue. Partly. Being banned multiplayer violations will no longer lock you out of your single-player games, and their DLC. Because, it seems, they've fixed their Offline mode. But there's no word on whether forum violations can still affect gaming access.
We never did receive an official explanation as to why this was happening in the first place. In March 2011 the impression given was that it was an error that needed to be fixed. Despite this, moderators and EA Support staff continued to maintain that it was deliberate, and very many of our readers got in touch to explain that they too were banned from their games, a worrying number of whom had done nothing that could constitute a violation in the first place. This got worse again toward the end of last year, and since then - despite repeated attempts - we heard nothing more from EA on the matter.
However, anonymously we heard all sorts, from some extremely reliable sources, that led us to believe that one end of EA really had no idea what the other end was doing, and fixing the issue - which does seem to be their goal - is far more complicated than you'd imagine. Whatever the reason, however deliberate the bans were, and however elaborate sorting it may have been, they have publicly declared that no longer will it happen. And this is extremely good news, to an extent. You simply go offline.
Oddly, this hasn't suddenly been fixed now. The terms were updated on the 8th March, but they've only alerted people to it now. The cynical will assume that this might be an attempt to garner good press in light of their being the Worst Company In America. Unfortunately, there are still concerning matters...
Bad news is, this doesn't cover the matter of whether forum violations will still constitute multiplayer gaming bans. Because while being locked out of your single player games and DLC was undoubtedly massively wrong, and possibly in violation of all manner of consumer law, being banned from a multiplayer game because you said "e-peen" (or any number of other innocuous offenses, or even without any meaningful reason at all) on an unrelated forum is bewildering, and ridiculous. And has to stop.
We'll contact EA about this first thing tomorrow, and find if there is to be any progress on this matter as well. Half way there? You can follow the whole saga via this tag.
Cheers, Gaming Blend.