Last night, Electronics Arts(EA) decided to be a little generous and offered few select people a coupon entitling them to $20 off, if they would complete a survey on Origin, EA’s digital distribution service. The coupon made it’s way across the Internet, went viral on Reddit and as a result, a lot of people were able to get the $20 off on few games which were retailing at $20, essentially giving them the game for free.
Now the catch was that the coupon code was supposed to be one-time and applicable for one game — except EA forgot to put in the one-time check. Woops. Few enterprising souls discovered that they could use it multiple times. EA’s servers essentially didn’t bother to validate if the user had applied the code or not. Result: A lot of people got a lot of games for free. The list of games that could be purchased via the coupon code included
- Battlefield 2 Complete Collection
- Crysis and Crysis: Warhead
- Dragon Age II
- Dead Space 1 & 2
- Mass Effect 1 & 2
- Shank 1 & 2
- The Saboteur
The exploit was patched nearly 18 hours after the coupon code was live, by means of making the coupon code as invalid. There were fears that people who made use of this exploit might face bans, but EA Community Manager rep confirmed that “they will honor all sales made with the coupon code.”
Joystiq reports that the puke-worthy EA has actually gone and done something reasonably intelligent with its Origin digital distribution system. Apparently many users of the Day One Patch forums reported that copies of Dead Space 2 – that they had purchased over Steam – had magically appeared on their Origin game library, with the same CD Key (i.e. an identical copy). While this is slightly unnerving, some more data that surfaced said that it was not all that malicious since Origin is known to look through files of the user’s computers (much like Steam itself does) and send back relevant statistics to EA.
It seems Origin looks through the games and filenames present in the user’s computer, match it with its database and if the user had bought an EA game through another platform, it automatically adds it to its own game library. Of course there are some checks here and there built into its system. While this is actually pleasing for once it is slightly creepy and we would all be a little more comfy if Origin announced that it has found such and such game in your system and will be registering it with Origin as well. That way people will actually like Origin. But this being EA, they again missed out on a lovely opportunity to show how Origin is better than other platforms in this respect.
They still have not convinced me to buy Mass Effect 3 though.
It seems EA will go to any lengths to make sure that their Origin digital distribution system is widely accepted. Joystiq reported that if you preorder Mass Effect 3 on Origin (that is, only for PC), you will get a free copy of Battlefield 3 right on your Origin game library. Before you pucker up your face and go “ewwwww Orrriiiggiiiiiiiin ewwwwww”, consider this – for the price you get two games – one of which is brand freakin’ new, and the other one which is quite recent.
Origin has been on the receiving end of a lot of bashing from fans of EA games who specifically did not like being forced into yet another digital distribution store. The fact that Origin tracked your computer information, was buggy as hell and that EA had the worst customer support in the entire solar system did not help its case. However, EA’s marketing team is hot in pursuit of its customer’s wallets. They did the same thing with Battlefield 3’s preorder, giving away a copy of Dead Space 2 free with it.
Keep in mind that Mass Effect 3 will need Origin to play even if you buy the box from a brick-and-mortar store. This way, you are not directly contributing to a lot of paper and plastic usage and also get to keep much of your gaming library online. So, will you be preordering Mass Effect 3?
EDIT: This is only for the customers in the USA and Canada. Aw shucks.
Alright everybody, get ready for a massive s***storm. In a recent forum post on Bioware SocialNetwork, an employee announced that the upcoming final installment of the epic space role playing game Mass Effect will necessarily need EA’s much maligned digital distribution platform Origin, and that Mass Effect 3 will not be available on any other digital distribution service, most notably Valve’s Steam with which EA has had some friction with in the past year.
Is Origin required for the retail versions of the game?
Origin is required for the PC versions of Mass Effect 3, both physical and digital.
Will ME3 be available on Steam?
During initial release Mass Effect 3 will be available on Origin and a number of other 3rd party digital retailers, but not on Steam at this time. Steam has adopted a set of restrictive terms of service which limit how developers interact with customers to deliver patches and other downloadable content. We are intent on providing Mass Effect to players with the best possible experience no matter where they purchase or play their game, and are happy to partner with any download service that does not restrict our ability to connect directly with our consumers.
The post immediately received negative comments from several fans who were not ready to install an accessory software even though they were planning on buying the boxed edition just so they do not have to suffer from such software. Moreover, the lack of a Steam version also invited several negative comments as many people (including this author) prefer their games under one umbrella. The fact that Origin as a platform has not received many commendations in the community just added to the repercussions.
Tell us what you think of Bioware’s latest move.
EA and Sony have become recipients of yet another slew of criticism for the addition of some unsavory legal clauses in their Terms of Service (ToS). When you agree upon these clauses (whenever the user clicks on the I agree to the terms and conditions’ checkbox), you are essentially waiving your rights to sue the company over any legal issue with the use of its products. This is obviously completely unacceptable!
In the age of technology and considering that the products in question are digital distribution platforms, it seems completely cranky that the only way to get yourself released from these binding clauses is by sending snail mail with your dissent to the clause to the company’s headquarters! I mean, think about it, you buy the game online, download it from the net over wireless and you have to go out into the wild urban areas populated by terrifying cars and motorbikes just to send a piece of data to the company!
A bunch of gamers from Chicago have made their website called Gamers Opt-Out that allows you to send the opt-out letter online, for free. Indeed, it will not cost you a penny to send the letters to the respective companies. Just fill up the online form and the good folks at Gamers Opt-Out will send the mail for you. The site primarily functions via the donations received by other gamers that help send the snail mail (it actually costs money! How strange!)
Jokes apart, I think the people here have shown the world that concerned gamers do exist. Mad props to them! (If you can, please donate to them!)
In all honesty, Sony’s lawsuit prevention clause in its PlayStation Network Terms of Service (ToS) is quite fancy. If you agree to section 15 of its new ToS, you are essentially waiving your right to a class-action lawsuit against Sony Network Entertainment International, LLC (SNEI) and in effect you are giving the gaming giant free reign to do whatever it wishes to do with your account and registered games.
Electronic Arts (EA), the gargantuan beast of gaming decided that Sony’s ToS change is pioneering and went about copying that to its own End User License Agreement (EULA) for the Origin digital distribution store that it operates. If you accept these terms of service, you will be denied the right to sue and bring the company to trial by jury. Only individual cases will be considered against the giant.
By accepting these terms, you and EA expressly waive the right to a trial by jury or to participate in a class action.
YOU UNDERSTAND THAT BY THIS PROVISION, YOU AND EA ARE FOREGOING THE RIGHT TO SUE IN COURT AND HAVE A JURY TRIAL.
YOU AND EA AGREE THAT EACH MAY BRING CLAIMS AGAINST THE OTHER ONLY IN YOUR OR ITS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, AND NOT AS A PLAINTIFF OR CLASS MEMBER IN ANY PURPORTED CLASS OR REPRESENTATIVE PROCEEDING.
One can opt out of both of these binders by submitting a written application to the company, but why is that even necessary when these clauses can be done away with entirely?
It is rather sad to see that these pinnacles of the industry put forth these gags against the civil voice instead of making sure that the service they provide is hassle-free and fair for both the users as well as the developers.