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  1. #1
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    EA prevents use of Origin in Myanmar. Dark side of digital distribution?

    https://m.reddit.com/r/gaming/commen...ans_an_entire/

    TLDR: EA has banned the use of origin due to US sanctions which aren't actually in place, rendering thousands of people's games unplayable with no chance of refunds.

    I thought this was quite interesting, and surprisingly not being reported on by the press yet. C'mon RPS, go kick their asses!
    Last edited by danijami23; 30-10-2016 at 04:24 PM.

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    Oh thanks grizzly, i dodnt even notice that!

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    Is the headline misleading, or are countries OTHER than Myanmar affected?

    That said, this is clearly fucked-up. I mean, I'm actually totally fine with them banning access in sanctioned countries. That's kind of the entire point of sanctions, and as more stuff goes digital, it will be affected by sanctions. I am not fine with them suddenly, idiotically banning people from a non-sanctioned country.

    It seems more like this is a fuck-up than intentional to me, to be honest - like the saw sanctions were off and so flicked a switch (metaphorically), only they didn't realize the switch was already in the off position, so flicked it to on.

  5. #5
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    Sanctions is serious business.
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    Network Hub gordianblot's Avatar
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    I'm glad I make it a point to not buy games on Origin. And it's not always something as a big as getting banned outright. I was buying Dragon Age: Inquisition a while back and Origin came to the conclusion that I should be paying inflated Irish prices. So, yeah, regional prices suck too.

  7. #7
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Eight Rooks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LexW View Post
    Is the headline misleading, or are countries OTHER than Myanmar affected?
    Not so much misleading as "THIS COULD HAPPEN TO ANY OF YOU AT ANY TIME, ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, NO, REALLY IT COULD, PHYSICAL RELEASES 4EVAR", I'm guessing. (And if the OP isn't doing that, sorry... but you know someone will.)

    That said, yes, this does seem like one hell of a stupid, poorly-thought-out, borderline criminal move on EA's part. I'm sure there's something in the terms and conditions to allow it, but you know what I mean. For what little it's worth, I'm suddenly rather less keen to pick up Titanfall 2 (or indeed buy much of anything else on Origin)... not because I think it could be yanked away from me without warning, but because I'd kind of like not to support this sort of thing.
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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    Or yunno, just stick to DRM free copies from Humble, GoG and with certain games on any regular exe download site like GamersGate.
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    Sorry if the post title came across as a clickbaity response to news. I found it interesting more than anything else. Also, it does serve to highlight a genuine issue with a global sales platform along with the license-based nature of software sales.

    I don't know where else this may be applicable if anywhere, however in the case of Myanmar, it hardly serves the consumer for an organisation to blanketly stop allowing people there to access games they've already payed for just because of a sanction, which in this case has even been lifted.

    It seems to me that practices like this should be illegal, regardless of the laundry list of nonsense that may be written into an EULA, and besides I think it's fair to say that EULAs are not a balanced document in any way; they are just a symptom of companies using the law to justify their dickish behaviour.
    Last edited by danijami23; 30-10-2016 at 04:16 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Heliocentric View Post
    Or yunno, just stick to DRM free copies from Humble, GoG and with certain games on any regular exe download site like GamersGate.
    That's a fair enough statement. However it's also fair to highlight behaviour like this, since 'buy DRM free' doesn't help the people in Myanmar right now, nor does it help fans of Battlefield games, or basically anyone who is a fan of a DRM protected franchise. I think that reporting on it and speaking up is almost certainly a better action to take rather than dismissing people who buy DRM protdcted games as foolish.

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    Quote Originally Posted by danijami23 View Post
    Sorry if the post title came across as a clickbaity response to news. I found it interesting more than anything else. Also, it does serve to highlight a genuine issue with a global sales platform along with the license-based nature of software sales.
    It does seem pretty clickbaity, yes.

    Quote Originally Posted by danijami23 View Post
    I don't know where else this may be applicable if anywhere, however in the case of Myanmar, it hardly serves the consumer for an organisation to blanketly stop allowing people there to access games they've already payed for just because of a sanction, which in this case has even been lifted.
    I'm sorry, did you say "just because of sanction". Do you have any idea at all what sanctions are and how serious the penalties for violating them can be? Because I'm thinking that's a no and a no.

    It's absolutely justifiable to stop a service to a country because of sanctions. But it should be done consistently and when a country is actually sanctioned in such a way that such services are included, not when a country is NOT sanctioned as appears to be the problem here.

    Quote Originally Posted by danijami23 View Post
    It seems to me that practuces like this should be illegal, regardless of the laundry list of nonsense that may be written into an EULA, and besides I think it's fair to say that EULAs are not a balanced document in any way; they are just a symptom of companies using the law to justify their dickish behaviour.
    This is just nonsense mate. Paranoid nonsense at that. Tin-foil-hat stuff.

    EA are not "choosing to be dicks", as you claim, and then trying to "justify their dickish behaviour". EA are clearly afraid of the extremely serious legal consequences for US companies caught breaking US sanctions. You say "This should be illegal". Well, guess what dude, BREAKING SANCTIONS IS ILLEGAL. You think EA are doing this because they think it's funny or something? All it does is lose them money and earn them bad press, but they are clearly worried that not doing it will mean they get into serious trouble.

    EA can't just decide to ignore sanctions. I mean, you're demanding that there be a law against them doing this - but that would directly conflict with existing law, so all you'd be doing will be causing a court case, and I guarantee you that US govt. sanctions beat company's desire to make profit in US court.

    Yeah, they've fucked up here, because the sanctions are over, but if they shut down Origin in some shitshow of a country because of sanctions, you should not be complaining to Origin. You should either be complaining to the shitshow of a country in question, or to the United States of America.

    Bottom line: literally the only problem here is that Origin is blocking a country which IS NOT sanctioned. If they were sanctioned, this would be a non-issue, and even just.

  12. #12
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    Oh, no I merely meant, when you have the choice, choose DRM free. It's shitty that people are suffering this impediment, but Sanctions effect far more serious things.
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  13. #13
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Eight Rooks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heliocentric View Post
    Or yunno, just stick to DRM free copies from Humble, GoG and with certain games on any regular exe download site like GamersGate.
    But I like clients, and don't mind DRM that much. (I admit I am partly using my GOG account more - since they brought in Galaxy - because of stuff like this, mind you.)

    I haven't bought anything on Origin since Inquisition, though, and this doesn't look to be changing that in a hurry. One way or the other this is pretty scummy and seems to be entirely on EA, no argument there - at the very least, even if the ban did turn out to be something they really ought to have been doing, for example, they still shouldn't get to go "Whoops! Our bad! But we still keep all your money and you don't get your games" without any meaningful consequence.

    Quote Originally Posted by LexW View Post
    Bottom line: literally the only problem here is that Origin is blocking a country which IS NOT sanctioned. If they were sanctioned, this would be a non-issue, and even just.
    I agree that sanctions, regardless of how you feel about the practice, are serious business which you don't just casually flaunt because you'd like to make some money (or, well, you're not supposed to) or because "Information doesn't pay attention to your national borders, man" or whatever. But even if there was a sanction EA were supposed to be obeying... if they were selling a product which was manifestly nothing to do with furthering whatever regime was in charge, then unceremoniously yanked the services they'd provided with no warning to their consumers and tried to hush it all up, I don't think that would be a complete non-issue. "Just", maybe, in a sense. Still an utter dick move by any reasonable metric.
    Last edited by Eight Rooks; 30-10-2016 at 04:29 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LexW View Post
    It does seem pretty clickbaity, yes.



    I'm sorry, did you say "just because of sanction". Do you have any idea at all what sanctions are and how serious the penalties for violating them can be? Because I'm thinking that's a no and a no.

    It's absolutely justifiable to stop a service to a country because of sanctions. But it should be done consistently and when a country is actually sanctioned in such a way that such services are included, not when a country is NOT sanctioned as appears to be the problem here.



    This is just nonsense mate. Paranoid nonsense at that. Tin-foil-hat stuff.

    EA are not "choosing to be dicks", as you claim, and then trying to "justify their dickish behaviour". EA are clearly afraid of the extremely serious legal consequences for US companies caught breaking US sanctions. You say "This should be illegal". Well, guess what dude, BREAKING SANCTIONS IS ILLEGAL. You think EA are doing this because they think it's funny or something? All it does is lose them money and earn them bad press, but they are clearly worried that not doing it will mean they get into serious trouble.

    EA can't just decide to ignore sanctions. I mean, you're demanding that there be a law against them doing this - but that would directly conflict with existing law, so all you'd be doing will be causing a court case, and I guarantee you that US govt. sanctions beat company's desire to make profit in US court.

    Yeah, they've fucked up here, because the sanctions are over, but if they shut down Origin in some shitshow of a country because of sanctions, you should not be complaining to Origin. You should either be complaining to the shitshow of a country in question, or to the United States of America.

    Bottom line: literally the only problem here is that Origin is blocking a country which IS NOT sanctioned. If they were sanctioned, this would be a non-issue, and even just.
    You completely misunderstand what i'm trying to point out here. I don't give a shit if they make the purchase of games unavailable in Myanmar, that's their business and their choice. What i'm highlighting is that people who made these purchases before the sanctions don't seem to have much of a recourse, other that 'haha unlucky you live in Myanmar'. It doesn't seem right that a sanction should be able to retractively impose itself on completed transactions. That's kind of what i was getting at, but thanks for your heavily condescending criticisms of my opinion.

    EDIT: I'd like to add that if the very existence of (in this case a fucking non-existent) sanction would actually have the effect i described above, then perhaps it's an issue with the way sanctions work, not with the way companies operate under them. Even so, people who may or may or not be affected by this should still know what's what, so they can make better informed decisions.
    Last edited by danijami23; 30-10-2016 at 04:33 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eight Rooks View Post
    That said, yes, this does seem like one hell of a stupid, poorly-thought-out, borderline criminal move on EA's part. I'm sure there's something in the terms and conditions to allow it, but you know what I mean. For what little it's worth, I'm suddenly rather less keen to pick up Titanfall 2 (or indeed buy much of anything else on Origin)... not because I think it could be yanked away from me without warning, but because I'd kind of like not to support this sort of thing.
    I don't think you understand what the word "criminal" means, Rooks.

    Criminals are people who break the law.

    Breaking sanctions to make money is most assuredly breaking the law in a very serious way. If EA are supplying games to countries where the sanctions say they can't (and that will depend entirely on the precise and specific sanctions in question - they vary very wildly - I actually have to follow them a bit at my job), then they are criminals.

    If they are avoiding supplying them to sanctioned people, then no, they are in fact the OPPOSITE of criminals, they are law-abiding. You seem to be suggesting that it's criminal that they're not criminals, which is quite an impressively extreme line of thinking. Started any revolutions lately?

    It actually does not matter if the T&Cs "allow it". This is about sanctions. They override existing agreements. For example, if say, a shipping company had made an agreement to ship oil into or out of Iran, then sanctions got applied which made that illegal, half-way through the contract, the company would have to stop shipping, or face the legal consequences (likely in the US, Europe or wherever). The T&Cs do not need to allow for this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eight Rooks View Post
    I agree that sanctions, regardless of how you feel about the practice, are serious business which you don't just casually flaunt because you'd like to make some money (or, well, you're not supposed to) or because "Information doesn't pay attention to your national borders, man" or whatever. But even if there was a sanction EA were supposed to be obeying... if they were selling a product which was manifestly nothing to do with furthering whatever regime was in charge, then unceremoniously yanked the services they'd provided with no warning to their consumers and tried to hush it all up, I don't think that would be a complete non-issue. "Just", maybe, in a sense. Still an utter dick move by any reasonable metric.
    Nope.

    You literally do not understand.

    It doesn't matter whether the product or service actually further the regime. That is not the decision for companies to make. That is a decision made by the US government, the EU, or similar organisations. If they have said "You can't ship X to Y, because sanctions", guess fucking what? You can't ship X to Y! It doesn't matter if you, company, are sad because you don't think it really matters and you want those $$$, because it's not your decision.

    It absolutely is not a "dick move". Where's the "hush-up"? It appears that they actually told people that Origin wasn't available there. If it was a hush-up, they'd have said nothing, just had it fail.

    But the issue is, you don't get to decide what laws to follow. I don't think you even want corporation like EA deciding what laws to follow, do you?

    EA's fuck-up is applying sanctions when there aren't any, not applying sanctions at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by danijami23 View Post
    You completely misunderstand what i'm trying to point out here. I don't give a shit if they make the purchase of games unavailable in Myanmar, that's their business and their choice. What i'm highlighting is that people who made these purchases before the sanctions don't seem to have much of a recourse, other that 'haha unlucky you live in Myanmar'. It doesn't seem right that a sanction should be able to retractively impose itself on completed transactions. That's kind of what i was getting at, but thanks for your heavily condescending criticisms of my opinion.

    EDIT: I'd like to add that if the very existence of (in this case a fucking non-existent) sanction would actually have the effect i described above, then perhaps it's an issue with the way sanctions work, not with the way companies operate under them. Even so, people who may or may or not be affected by this should still know what's what, so they can make better informed decisions.
    That's how sanctions work, Dan. They absolutely can apply to completed transactions for services.

    So you can say "Well the problem here is that games are being sold as a service", and that's fine - I have no quarrel with the people saying "only buy DRM-free games" and the like. My only quarrel is with people saying "It's EA's fault sanctions exist and EA are evil for following them".

    No, EA are numbskulls for turning on the sanctions stuff at the moment a country gets unsanctioned.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LexW View Post
    They override existing agreements. For example, if say, a shipping company had made an agreement to ship oil into or out of Iran, then sanctions got applied which made that illegal, half-way through the contract, the company would have to stop shipping, or face the legal consequences (likely in the US, Europe or wherever). The T&Cs do not need to allow for this.
    Yeah but hold on, you don't suddenly have to give all the oil back that you've already bastard-well bought!

  18. #18
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Eight Rooks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LexW View Post
    I don't think you understand what the word "criminal" means, Rooks.
    Look, I'm no fan of hysterical comment thread hyperbole along the lines of OMG WHEN WILL THE MAKERS OF NO MAN'S SKY GO TO JAIL, but see my other posts. I'm inclined to sympathize with the OP here; you're getting awfully condescending, IMO. As it stands, you're essentially saying "Don't use digital content delivery services which originate overseas, because they could be yanked away from you at any time without warning and you won't get any compensation whatsoever, and if that happens because you live in a third world/developing country... sucks to be you?". As far as I'm concerned, whatever the law of any given country says, that's wrong; EA should not be able to conduct business in that manner without incurring consequences/penalties. It doesn't automatically make one an armchair revolutionary/political studies student or whatever to bring this kind of thing up, you know? I mean, I do understand what sanctions are for, you know? But if they were legitimate/in force in this instance even a public apology from EA would be something, or a pledge to preserve the accounts of legitimate customers until such time as the sanctions were lifted or whatever.

    EDIT: Yeah, no, I'm stepping away from this one - delete this if it's too personal, mods, but Lex, you're clearly identifying way too closely with this one IMO, and talking to people as if they're five as a result. I am not trying to argue people (companies, individuals, whatever) should be free to pick and choose what sanctions they want to obey, and I don't believe I said anything that reasonably suggests I believe such a thing. I am saying that if EA had been running Origin to Myanmar or anywhere else while a sanction was in place, and if they then realised they'd made a mistake, I think they should have both a moral and a legal obligation to make every possible gesture to apologise for their error to the people who had acted as their legitimate customers in good faith, or at least to give them the benefit of the doubt that they were acting in good faith - to assure them they would preserve their account details for however long the sanctions continued to be legitimately in place. I don't give a shit what international law says, to be blunt; if - going by the original Reddit thread - your answer is a 404 page and a "Eh, sorry, you're banned now", whether or not it meets the standards required to not get prosecuted/fined/jailed by the US government, that's still a dick move.
    Last edited by Eight Rooks; 30-10-2016 at 04:53 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by danijami23 View Post
    Yeah but hold on, you don't suddenly have to give all the oil back that you've already bastard-well bought!
    No, indeed you don't - but that's because it's a physical good, not a service.

    The problem here is that Origin, like Steam and Uplay and the others, is a service, not a physical good. Games you buy from it are linked to that service, so if that service is cut off, so is your ability to play those games.

    I mean, to use Iran again, maybe you were in the US and you had a contract with an Iranian phone-answering service to answer your customer queries or the like. Then sanctions come in and say that's a no-no. Even though you've paid them for X amount of service, you're cut off, and you probably can't even get the money back because of the way sanctions tend to be set up. You can avoid paying them more, of course - indeed you'd better! But you are out cash and yes, that's how sanctions work.

    If people want this to work differently with games, the only things you can do are:

    A) Only buy DRM-free games.

    or

    B) Try and convince companies to remove always-on DRM stuff like Steam or Origin from their games.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eight Rooks View Post
    Look, I'm no fan of hysterical comment thread hyperbole along the lines of OMG WHEN WILL THE MAKERS OF NO MAN'S SKY GO TO JAIL, but see my other posts. I'm inclined to sympathize with the OP here; you're getting awfully condescending, IMO. As it stands, you're essentially saying "Don't use digital content delivery services which originate overseas, because they could be yanked away from you at any time without warning and you won't get any compensation whatsoever, and if that happens because you live in a third world/developing country... sucks to be you?". As far as I'm concerned, whatever the law of any given country says, that's wrong; EA should not be able to conduct business in that manner without incurring consequences/penalties. It doesn't automatically make one an armchair revolutionary/political studies student or whatever to bring this kind of thing up, you know? I mean, I do understand what sanctions are for, you know? But if they were legitimate/in force in this instance even a public apology from EA would be something, or a pledge to preserve the accounts of legitimate customers until such time as the sanctions were lifted or whatever.
    Your concerns do not seem to be legitimate. I'm sorry that you think I'm "being condescending", in this post, and others, you have illustrated a severe lack of understanding of how sanctions work.

    It's not EA's choice as to whether a country is sanctioned, or whether a good or service is sanctioned. You previously suggested that it was and still seem to think it might be. You claim they "should be penalized". How the fuck would that work? No, you do need to explain that, and in detail. How would they, a US company, be penalized for following US law? It sounds like you just want a nasty Catch-22 for them. Either the follow the sanctions and cut off access, and then get penalized by your proposed law OR the ignore the sanctions, and get penalized for that, but not by your proposed law. Fucked either way. GREAT. I guessing that whatever law you propose will be less bad than breaking sanctions, which can end up with CEOs in federal prison so...

    Does it suck to be the victim of sanctions? Yes, that's the idea. It sucks to go to jail when you just signed a 12-month contract with Sky TV, but somehow I don't think that means you're going to get all your money back (or, likely, any of it)*.

    A pledge to preserve accounts doesn't make any sense. As the OP's link to reddit shows, the accounts are absolutely fine. You just need a non-Myanmar IP address to use them. So why would they make that pledge? It makes no sense.

    A public apology for following sanctions law would be a bad idea, generally, I'd suggest. No-one wins from that.

    However, the problem remains that EA are bunch of fucknuts because there aren't any sanctions here! This will remain the real problem until EA fixes it.

    Now, if EA don't fix it, and decide to run their own little special secret sanctions, then we've got a more interesting problem, and something a lot scarier. But I'm seeing no evidence of that at this time.

    * = I know a lot less about criminal law than sanctions, so this may not be right, but I think you get my point.
    Last edited by LexW; 30-10-2016 at 05:00 PM.

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