EA: Banned From Forums? Can't Play Single-Player Game Either

from the overkill dept

Tom Landry was the first of a bunch of you to send in the news that EA has taken forum banning to a new level. Obviously forums ban people all the time for whatever reason, but it appears that EA went way beyond just a forum banning in this case. First, the guy was banned for saying in the comments: “Have you sold your souls to the EA devil?” Seems pretty tame compared to some of the stuff that goes on in plenty of forums. But, whatever. If EA wants to be thin-skinned like that, that’s its own insecure decision. Where it goes overboard is that not only did the company ban him from the forums, but it also blocked him from activating a single-player game that he had purchased, Dragon Age II, from BioWare. In the thread where this is discussed, a company rep notes that this is EA’s policy, and since BioWare is a part of EA, this was done at a higher level:

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

That seems ripe for a lawsuit. Selling someone a video game for 50 euros (what the guy says he paid for it), and then telling him he can’t play it, even as a single player game on his own computer, because he said something mildly anti-EA in a forum? Honestly, all that really seems to say is that you should never “buy” (yeah, right, you didn’t “buy” anything) from EA since they can vindictively make whatever you bought stop working if someone who works there doesn’t like you. That seems like a much worse message than some forum person talking about “selling your soul.” Update: And of course, once the publicity came out on the story, EA is now claiming it was a glitch and has been fixed. Doesn’t change that this appears to be part of EA’s official policy, though (also, corrected the name of the game).

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Comments on “EA: Banned From Forums? Can't Play Single-Player Game Either”

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Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Stopped buying EA a long time ago.

They ruined the Command & Conquer series. They have abused DRM quite a lot. This whole activation thing is also lame. I have not bought an EA for a very long time and will never buy another until they respect the consumers. They have given us plenty of reasons to dislike them, and none to support them. The choice is simple.

When did the publishers of games get so much control over the actual game creators? These large companies have assimilated everything they can and are now treating the customers poorly. I am quite happy that thanks to the internet there is competition still popping up from new companies all the time. Gotta love the indie games.

Jess says:

Re: Stopped buying EA a long time ago.

When did the publishers of games get so much control over the actual game creators? These large companies have assimilated everything they can and are now treating the customers poorly. I am quite happy that thanks to the internet there is competition still popping up from new companies all the time. Gotta love the indie games.

As things are going, I can see the similarities between the video game industry and the movie industry. Publishers are under the concept that it takes a huge amount of money to make a good game. You need the best graphics, big name actors (side note, Liam Neeson, I can listen to your voice overs any time! rawr!), tons of advertising, and the rest doesn’t matter. That’s not the only thing games are about. So the big budget publishers are getting separated from the people who actually play the games. I think those same publishers will get disrupted by indie game developers (See: Minecraft for excellent example) the same way that indie/low budget movies are making leaps and bounds.

Anonymous Coward says:

It was a ‘computer error’ apparently:

“Re: the account issue from one player at Social.BioWare.com:
EA strictly enforces the code of conduct at Social.BioWare.com. If a player violates the rules by using profanity, they will be temporarily banned. Unfortunately, there was an error in the system that accidentally suspended a user’s entire account. Immediately upon learning of the glitch, EA took steps to restore the user’s macro account and apologized for the inconvenience.”


HothMonster says:

Re: Re: Re:

“The issue has nothing to do with whether or not he can play the game. His account was disabled, and it he had yet to activate the game. So he could not log in to activate.”

Not being able to activate it = not being able to play it.

He could not activate his game because his account was banned and it requires activation prior to first launch(I still don’t understand why he was hating on the devs on a forum for a game he hadn’t even bought and played yet, but whatever). He also could not play any games he already owned that had DLC attached to them because those require activation anytime you start (technically he could start a new save on those games, but he can not access the dlc and can not load any saved games that had been saved with the dlc loaded).

“It was just a glitch and they’ve already said they are fixing it.”

Now this news, if my foggy brain recalls correctly, is a few days old and I haven’t looked since I first heard of it but….
On the forum post were the guy was asking if this was intended the forum mod just said something along the lines of I can not comment on reasons behind bans blah blah blah this is EA policy blah blah blah.
Point being I saw no mention of oops that is an unintended consequence and we will fix it. They were basically saying hey I work for bioware, EA did this just wait out your 72 hours and you can play.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The end result is still –
A customer makes a comment that EA disliked.
A customer was denied access to his lawfully purchased items.

If it was a booboo or not there should have been no reason for someone responsible for moderating forums to have the ability to do more than block them from the forums.

People are angry about this because EA has created a system that allows them to decide if you can play your game or not based on their mood.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

What does that GM have to say about EA’s TOS that *does* state they can and will shut you out of your games/account?


As an AC stated above, this isn’t a new thing (though rare). I’d have to dig up links, but this ‘mouth off too much – lose access to your games’ thing happened in *I think* a Red Faction forum and also in the Spore forum well over a year ago. Both statements came from forum moderators, both were retracted after some outrage from the fanbase, but true clarification never really happened that I can recall.

I’m all for kicking a-holes from a private forum, but to deny them use of a single player game they paid for is just plain theft. I doubt that’s their intent, but EA should straighten that out for once and for good in their own documentation and procedures.

I haven’t bought from EA for going on 5 years now due to this kind of fanti-paying customer crap and their rather flippant way of dealing with those issues. It was a cumulative effect after many years of being a faithful purchaser. They may be too large to actually learn, I dunno.

The eejit (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

It was a huge fuck-up, I’m not denying that. Literally ten minutes after the story first broke, I contacted my EA acquaintance, to see if he had anything to say about it. He was pretty vocal about it not being what was supposed to happen. He then spent most of his time in work trying to resolve this.

Just a shame that people think it was intentional before asking questions.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Just a shame that people think it was intentional before asking questions.

The real shame is that EA uses DRM at all, which makes situations like this inevitable.

When you build a system like this you intentionally accept the risk that things like this will happen. Personally, I don’t see a big difference between “we built a system which allows us to ban you but we don’t intend to” and “we built a system which allows us to ban you and we did so accidentally.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I am by no means an authorized source of info for this but I have some very, very, very insider knowledge that is very accurate.

The fact that the user was not able to play the game due to being banned on the forums was not the correct system behavior. It upset a lot of people in EA and there was a huge rush to fix it.

The issue is resolved at this point.

From what I can tell there is no conspiracy at EA to screw users. Although it looks really bad this issue was by no means intentional.

Everybody I know at EA is very dedicated to getting the user a good experience… but like everything things are complicated and rarely easy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Although it looks really bad this issue was by no means intentional.

Which part wasn’t intentional? The forum ban to stifle criticism or the game ban. Because if you ask me, banning him from the forums for the comment “selling your soul to the EA devil” is actually worse than stopping him from playing the game. If he had posted some 300 word diatribe against the company I could see them censoring it from their own forums but this was a pretty mild comment and they didn’t moderate the comment they “moderated” the user.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I am not sure of all the details for banning the user, (I didn’t look into that). I was just commenting regarding the banishment also preventing them from playing the game.

It could be the user did something worth banning in another forum topic.

I also happen to know there are a lot of posters to EA Forums saying bad stuff about EA and they don’t get banished. I know a few people who read and moderate the forums everyday.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

From other sources or comments I’ve seen, this was not his first go-round with moderation issues. He was purportedly a repeat offender, but, heh, the devil comment does seem pretty weak for banning. Perhaps the ban was in process for prior bad behavior at the time he posted that one?

Private forums aren’t democracies nor run by the gubmint, so it’s their way or the highway. We can discuss the pros and cons of taking a hardline vs. giving leeway, but in the end it’s EA’s forum, their rules of the road. I can support that, but not denying use of a purchased single-player product by remote control.

Glitch or goof, it was addressed. However, there are definitely communication issues amongst EA employees or reps that need serious attention. When a Bioware dev quotes EA’s TOS *in support* of forum ban = no game on that game’s public forum, you’ve got a very mixed message going out.

It’s true or it isn’t, pick one and put out a damn memo.

An aside: I absolutely believe that an overwhelming number of EA employees are looking out for the customers and are dedicated to good experiences for them. Much like Comcast employees I’ve dealt with over the years. They want to do right by me and their jobs. Yet I still feel ill having to call Comcast for anything, based on past awful experience, and I’m no longer an EA customer based on the same. I’d dump Comcast if I had anything like a choice of providers around here.

With both there are systemic problems that create situations that drive customers up a wall or right over it, situations that could or can be avoided with a bit more foresight or communication, and I wager, like most giant companies, those on the front lines take the brunt of decisions made by those who aren’t as close to the customer as they should be.

indieThing (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

As an ex-EA bod myself, who found myself working there for four years, I was pleasantly surprised, as they are nowhere near as evil as I’d always thought. Admittedly, they’re not perfect, but this seems to be a common problem with large corporations, who have to answer to share-holders.

Knowing a lot of the American, Romanian, Indian and UK staff, I’d say this was definitely a coding bug that wasn’t found in time. Most staff are passionate gamers who ‘get it’ and tend to have a fairly tolerant view on file-sharing and restrictive DRM, the trouble seems to mostly comes from the higher execs and share-holders. I can think of one such exec, that has ruined companies before EA and is now continuing his efforts at EA. Once they’re in a high position, it’s difficult to get rid of them.

But saying that, even some of the execs ‘get it’, as they are implementing some of the newer business models by using the power of free with such things as free online games, skill based prize gaming, free trials and other models.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

His point is: vote with your wallet. Don’t like EA don’t buy their games. The “lost sale” is because their attitude not piracy and unwillingness to pay. The retail product that you paid for should be superior to the cracked version. When a cracker is adding value to your product be removing annoyances, you must me doing something terribly wrong.

BigKeithO (profile) says:

Re: Not as bad as steam...

Steam’s TOS state you cannot sell a Steam account. Digital distribution seems to signal the end of the resale market.

If Steam was really smart they’d open a resellers market inside the Steam store. Allow, hell facilitate, users ability to resell digital games would make Steam that much more popular. Pay users in some sort of Steam credits or something and it would just get plugged back into Steam.

Not being able to lend or resell games from Steam is my #1 pet peeve about the service, otherwise it’s great.

Anonymous Coward says:

The Bigger Issue

This is yet again another example of:
What you “buy” you really don’t “own”.
eBooks, Computer software, games, your Sony products.

If I buy a hammer (A tool) I own it until I die, sell it or give away and I can modify it anyway I want to suit my needs. If I buy Photoshop (A tool) I don’t own it, I can’t sell it or give it away and I can not modify it in any way.

BigKeithO (profile) says:

Dragon Age II

Where it goes overboard is that not only did the company ban him from the forums, but it also blocked him from activating a single-player game that he had purchased, BioWare.

Should actually read, Where it goes overboard is that not only did the company ban him from the forums, but it also blocked him from activating a single-player game that he had purchased, Dragon Age II.

Bioware is the developer, Dragon Age II is the game.

Anonymous Coward says:

Used to like EA somewhat but when they got overboard in the franchises, it got monotonous. Then came along the crap with having to have the net to reg the game to play or to have the net to play at all and make saves.

I don’t mind at all paying for a game. There are some howevers in that. One is that if I pay for a game, I am not going to up with all sorts of BS like having to register to play what I bought, or having to have internet to play the game, or a ton of the other things that game makers seem to want to include to ensure their profit line.

If they are going to do that it makes it a hardship on the buyer. I won’t deal with that with the prices being as high as they are for games, it isn’t worth the hassle. If they go that route, I’ll try their game for free and see if it lives up to its hype (which they usually don’t). It looks as if piracy has a better model as it is more friendly to the user. Too many hoops to jump through equals no sale.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Updated

EA’s explaination sound very legit, actually. I know that a number of online companies tie their marketing to membership in their chat boards or other user experiences. However, if you are blocked from the user experience, or quit from the community, most of them continue to market directly to you be email and as such because the systems “don’t tie together well”.

It appears that EA had their systems tied together a little too closely, and now that they have been made aware of the issue, have taken care of it. Kudos for a company having the nuts to admit when they had a problem and have addressed it.

Anonymous Coward says:


The legit paying user gets banned for an off the wall remark, while thousands of pirates out there play without any problems…. and the trolls on this blog wonder why the freetards do what they do…..

DRM servers shutting down on music, locking out of games, no resale of games, license but not own, the reasons to pirate are endless compared to the risks involved.

Want to end pirates? Give them what they want at a good price and it’s game over for them….. but bah… we all know that will never happen….

Bengie says:


If game developers want to retain control like this over their games, they should have to treat their game as a “service”.

Say you pay $60 for this game and the usefulness of a game is about 10 years. You’ve paid $60 “up front” for a service to be rendered. When that service is removed for any amount of time, the developers should be responsible to refund back some of your money equal to the percentage of time lost off of your service against the amount you paid.

V says:

Justly deserved...

I have no sympathy for pathetic sheep who bow down to corporate self interests.

We have slowly and steadily bowed down and kissed the feet of these game companies while they take away our rights.

We no longer buy a game, but give our 30 pieces of silver to ALLOW them to steal our rights and enter into a one-sided contract that would look Faust’s deal with the devil look benevolent.

The sheep are now reaping the rewards of debasing themselves and allowing corporate shepherds to lead us into the Valley of the Shadow of Death… death of our rights as consumers.

Anonymous Coward says:

Mike, how do you know EA was reacting due to the publicity. It’s possible it just took them a day or two to figure out where the glitch was? It’s normal for trolls and troublemakers to be banned from forums. Did anyone look into the posters history to see if the ban really was deserving? It’s quite possible this was the 50th time the guy was reported. So many unknowns, and the issue has already been resolved, so this is a bit of a non-story.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I disagree. Getting bounced from a private forum for being an asshat is one thing (and really, should be an expected thing).

Not being able to use a product you bought – the use of which has no relation to the forum – due to that bounce is a pretty big deal, because that’s how it was presented by certain EA personnel and EA’s own TOS.

They fixed it, and that’s good. EA should still clarify it for all, from their mouthpieces to their devs to their TOS. It would only help.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I think we’re making somewhat the same point. That it’s normal for trolls to be banned, but in this case the removed access from his games wasn’t intended.

I think any game you pay for you should be able to play on a PC that is not connected to the internet regardless of how much of a jerk you are. I just wasn’t impress with the way Mike handled the story. Sometimes the implied injustice in Mike’s articles is a little overblown.

Mistakes can be made by anyone. EA fixed their mistake in a timely fashion then that should be good enough. It’s a non-story.

BigKeithO (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Funny thing is the guy could still play the game. You don’t HAVE to register to play the game, when you register you get access to a couple pieces of DLC for the game.

Really EA took away his access to the free DLC, not his access to the entire game.

Not that I agree with what they did, I just haven’t seen anyone else mention that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Good point. He still should’ve been able to use his DLC, free or not – it was for those who purchased then registered – and also any game patches (if they’re fixes, anyway).

I’m not familiar with this game and could be mistaken, but wasn’t it a requirement that you go online to autheticate before you could play? I might be thinking of something else.

TDR says:

I’d like to ask why everyone seems to be assuming that EA was telling the truth that the game ban was accidental. How do we know it wasn’t deliberate, and their fixing of the issue mere damage control (since it only happened after fan backlash)?

I’d been considering getting DAII for my PS3, but now I’m not so sure.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I am by no means an authorized source of info for this but I have some very, very, very insider knowledge that is very accurate.

It was not an intentional to have a forum ban prevent game use. It was due to the use of the same user account system and some data flags were not surfaced for use in a other system.

When it was discovered EA worked really quickly to fix it.

GetBent says:

Time to start a revolution

Yep, Its about time gamers took back this industry… Time for us to stand up to the tyranny that is EA, and hit them where it hurts. Do the only thing possible to make sure EA learns and NOBODY EVER tries taking advantage of us, like this, again. For years we have been suggesting, requesting, begging and pleading for publishers to “listen” to the gaming community. Something they claim to be doing, while stealthily reaching for our wallets.

So I say this….

Since they don’t want to listen to use. Since they are so focused on trying to pick our pocket, sell us crap that doesn’t work, then not take responsibility for it. Since they have gotten so greedy that they will not only rip off their customers, but the inspiration and Development teams, that make these games… WE SHALL BUY NO MORE!!!!! BOYCOTT, BAN, IGNORE ALL EA GAMES AND PRODUCTS!!!!




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