EA Sued For Shutting Down Online Games Too Quickly
from the shall-we-play-a-game? dept
Electronics Arts continues to suffer from a case of fans-hate-us-itis. Wonderfully hilarious mishaps like the SimCity debacle, calling their critics homophobes, and simply shutting down social media games without refunding the money for in-app purchases culminated in the game publisher obtaining the coveted Worst Company In America award…again. With all that having happened in the last year or so, executives at EA are probably thinking the same thing I think when I wake up on the bathroom floor at 4am on a Sunday with the dog looking at me like she’s trying to figure out if I’m dead or not: surely this is rock bottom and it can only get better from here.
Well, no it can’t. Not for me and not for EA either, now that a federal class action suit has been filed against the company for falsely suggesting in the marketing for their EA Sports titles that online play would last a lot longer than it actually does.
Justin Bassett claims he bought several sports-themed games for Xbox 360 for about $59.99 each, relying on Electronic Arts’ representation that the games were enabled for unlimited, online play. But the games were available for only a limited time, he says.
“Had plaintiff known at the time that he would not be able to play the products online for a certain amount of time, he would not have purchased the products or paid the price he paid for the products,” Bassett claims.
Now, I don’t know if it counts as a conflict of interest that I play a ton of sports games and also find it massively annoying when I can’t beat 14 year old Russian children anymore because EA shut down the servers, but I figured I’d disclose that anyway. The fact is that marketing material for these games at the very least gives no indication for how long EA will allow online play and at worst vaguely insinuates that there is no predetermined time limit. Certainly most owners of sports titles don’t purchase them every single year, so a time limit of a calendar year seems ridiculous sans a strong indicator that that’s the plan. As such, the suit alleges a host of wrong-doings.
“Consumers frequently rely on labels in making purchase decisions. Here, plaintiff and the other class members reasonably relied to their detriment on defendant’s misleading representations and omissions. Defendant’s misleading affirmative statements about the capability of online play for the products obscured the material fact that defendant failed to disclose about the limited nature of its online support for the products.”
Bennett seeks compensatory, statutory and punitive damages for consumer law violations, false advertising, unfair competition, and breach of warranty.
Nobody is suggesting that EA has to keep their online play servers going indefinitely, but reasonable should mean reasonable. There may be some folks out there that buy Madden every year, but most do not. They update their rosters, either on their own or with help, and keep playing that title for 2-4 years. Is a 3 year online play window really unreasonable? And if they weren’t going to support online play for that long, shouldn’t EA disclose that in their advertising and/or packaging?