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?

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Comments on “EA Sued For Shutting Down Online Games Too Quickly”

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52 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

I bought Quake 17 years ago, and there’s still plenty of online servers to play on.

http://www.quakeservers.net/quakeworld/servers/so=8/

It was a different world back then though. Making games in the old’en days used to be about “having fun” and “giving the customers what they want”.

Now all we have is companies like EA that, “maximize profits”, “buy all 5 DLC packs to unlock the complete game”, and “we reserve the right to shut-down servers with 30 days notice”.

It’s pretty much why I quit playing video games. Pretty much all the reasons above, plus the gameplay sucks in newer games compared to the originals.

Forest_GS (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I recommend Warframe, open beta, free to play, the gun physics are good, so many ways to modify the weapons, and it’s the kind of good that you want to put at least a little of your money into a free-to-play game.

Did I mention all the paid items that effect gameplay are obtainable by regular playing? And it even says on the purchase page that all spent platinum credits will be refunded if there is a reset going out of beta!

b0 says:

Re: Re:

You are comparing EA and ID… which is sacrilege and shouldn’t be done since they are apples and oranges when it comes to the gaming world anyway.

That said, ID is probably the most open source friendly developer when it comes to games. Game servers? Here, run your own… Here, take the source code if you want to run the server on Linux. Oh, we’re releasing a new game engine, so we’re open sourcing our previous game engine.

EA had a good run of money grabbing. After Simcity, I’m sure as hell staying away from anything EA. As for ID, I’ve got 5 copies of Quake 3, and 1 of each of every other game they’ve released since I started earning my own cash… and will continue to support their efforts.

BulmaRO says:

or try alternate methods

they as well, and this is my humble opinion, should lets say support the servers for around 4 years sound good and at the end of that cycle release a patch of sort so players can play on servers of theyr own like other decentralized games, 4 years is a pretty good game life window and players wonth feel hurt when they try to play again out of nostalgia or just becouse they can’t let the game go.

maybe im asking too much but well that is kind of fan service too. 🙂

Gwendolyn Burrows says:

Re: i had all the sims game when sims4 came out i bought it and i had to use origin

origin is a micro managing toOL used by ea games to control the games, i had to bUy a new computer because it got hacked while i was online with ea techsupport trying to get help with Sims4 digital deluxe EA GAMES IS THE WORST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN TO GAMING

Reality Check (profile) says:

Credit where credit is due.

“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. “

Damn, I can’t beat those 14 year old Russian children, you must be pretty good.

Anonymous Coward says:

Nobody is suggesting that EA has to keep their online play servers going indefinitely

Really? I would certainly suggest that, and unless the marketing materials made it clear that online play was limited-time, that ought to be the law if it isn’t already.

$59.99 is a lot of money; I don’t think it’s at all unreasonable to expect the servers to stay up indefinitely unless there’s a clear (not buried in the EULA) indication otherwise.

(It’d be fine I suppose if years later when there are few players anymore, the company shut the servers down but released the server source code so people could keep playing.)

Anonymous Coward says:

the real problem here is the gamers themselves. had they not allowed this ‘online play’ crap to start in the first place, refusing to go down the road the game supplier/maker/whatever wanted whereby you had to have an internet connection, you had to download most of the content because what came on the disk was a miniscule amount, you had to constantly update over the net etc, etc, etc. when you buy a game, you should get the whole damn thing on a disk! if you need updates, that’s different. all the ‘on-line’ stuff is for the benefit of the companies, not the people. all games should be totally playable off line, single player. if you want to multi play, that should be an ‘extra’, not a reason to have everything from ‘the net’! just because the maker wants to close servers shouldn’t mean that the game cant be played any more. that’s is removing an option that should be with the game when you buy it. some people like to store stuff and play whenever. that shouldn’t be restricted. on-line only options do that!

Anonymous Coward says:

EA customers DESERVE all the pain they get

Anyone doing any kind of business with EA should know that they’re lying assholes and will cheerfully screw their best customers over without a second thought. It’s insanely stupid to expect any other outcome.

Given that this has been proven over and over and OVER again by EA’s own actions, I don’t blame them: they’re just who they are. I blame the idiots who keep giving EA money and expecting different results.

squall_seawave (profile) says:

Re: EA customers DESERVE all the pain they get

yeah but the problem is when they buy and gut great franshises like plant vs zombies dragon age simcity for the casual they dont check if those are released by EA

even discounting that EA has a monopoly in sport games
want to play with oficial players too bad you need to go with EA i have seen some good soccer games but the names god the names ruined the experience

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: EA customers DESERVE all the pain they get

I have a certain love for the old Westwood RTS titles and some of their derivatives before they went full Origin. EA once believed in making games for the same of the game, before they were effective engines for pumping money out of hapless consumers.

My roommate has one EA (Battlefield 3) not because it’s a particularly good game but because a friend of hers invested time and energy into the game and it’s one of the things they do together. So even when we know EA is shit, social pressure can (or at least has in this case) pulled new customers in.

EA wasn’t evil to begin with. It was corrupted from within by greed and fruits of their prior successes.

assemblerhead (profile) says:

Never Used the Origin Service!

I made the mistake of registering two EA tittles before the Origin service started.

That registration was converted to an Origin Account without my permission. I have never logged on or into it.

Because of what EA has done with requirements for OnLine DRM, I no longer ( Play / Buy ) EA’s newer tittles.

Will play the older ( OffLine / Single Player ) games on occasion.

Now I am getting e-mails from the Origin service demanding that I update the contact info! No thanks, they can keep their spam.

Kill the Servers?

If they want to kill the servers, they need to release a “standalone” version of the game, or a ( Public / LAN Party ) type server program to the community. Or make the “standalone” version able to function as a replacement for EA’s servers.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

That's the way it was before AAA got greedy.

If EA wants to shut down the servers why don’t they just release a windows based server people could run on their own.

This was the standard for a while, either to allow someone to launch a listen server while they played, or an independent dedicated server. Then, thanks to the MMO revolution we got a number of AAA companies that decided to force multiplayer to rely on company servers (or even later, singleplayer), and so they’d refuse to include end-user server support at all.

This is the first time we’ve seen in court a case that acknowledges that publishers have a responsibility to their end-users, especially when charging a not-insignificant amount for their games.

Laroquod (profile) says:

This article would be a lot better if it actually stated what is the length of time that EA currently keeps their servers alive before shutting them down. Seeing as the alleged shortness of that window is the entire reason I am supposed to read this and get angry, it would be good to have been given that information in the actual article, instead of by a random (and possibly mistaken) commenter.

I don’t perceive Techdirt as a soap opera, so I don’t expect understanding each article to depend on having kept up and read the articles before. That’s not what I want in a news site; I doubt that’s what anybody wants in a news site.

Anonymous Coward says:

The limitation to gaming isn’t supposed to be when the new game comes out, it’s when the hardware can no longer support it.. I have pc games nearly 20 years old that are still operational through windows life support methods, if it’s a console based game then it should be when the adoption rate of the new console is more than the previous. When more XBone’s are being sold a quarter than 360’s, sure shut down servers to the 360 games. When it’s a PC game.. the only reason to pull the plug is there isn’t enough activity to justify it. Even now, with an average of like 500 people on a day.. Dawn of War 2 is still available because Steam has no reason to shut it down. There are people playing the game they bought so we’ll keep it open. How many ceo’s and internal whistle blowing will EA have to go through before they come to realize that gaming nerds will fight back when they cross the line.

Dan says:

EA sucks

It is too bad that a company like EA Games rips off people. I for one am done with EA Games. They disrespect people who buy their product. No wonder open source is so popular with crappy companies like EA Games ripping people off. I think EA Games sends funding to Al Qaida because it steals from innocent people. EA Games suck!!! Long die EA Games…

charlie says:

online games

I have played the earliest version of SimCity, but never bought the EA versions due to what I read and spoken to players who bought them. I wish I could buy SimCity outright and make it better. EA has been killing this great game. anyone know any other city/nation building game like SimCity, please share here. thanks

there needs to be more legal cases in the game world, so many publisher are screwing up players, lying to players, changing rules to cheat players, and so on. W3C is in the same boat as EA. lawsuit will be the only way to get game creators/publishers to honor their terms and conditions fairly to their customers.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is obviously an old conversation and also old news that origin.com/ea made it impossible for members now to file a class action suit. I don’t even have an account but they have hacked my bank account and apparently the bank accounts of other people according to comments on the web. I am reporting them to the FBI and the FTC and am in the prices of seeing what needs to be done to file a class action suit so maybe they will look at how people are being robbed and victimized through their company. The only way to reach them is by making an account, which in turn would prevent anyone from filing a class action suit.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

This CAS, now that it is proceeding, may have far-reaching implications

Microsoft has gone out of its way to avoid a class-action suit regarding the Windows OS. The XP support shutdown was delayed time and again due to countless businesses who could not afford to upgrade, and that was an operating system that had versions that didn’t require online activation (at least until WGA and countless downloadable patches).

If this CAS rules in favor of the plaintiffs, it may set a precedent that a company that requires online activation will have to do so for an extensive length of time, or provide a patch (and indefinite support) that removes the activation requirement.

In the case of Big MS, they seem so be determined to provide such support, at least until the screaming stops.

In the case of Steam, they’ve committed to the cause, and allegedly have a plan-b patch on standby which will allow backups to be installed and run without phoning home if ever Valve fails. (No notice on what happens if EA offers them four billion dollars for the whole Steam franchise — because four billion dollars).

But in regards to Origin and Uplay and any other we-don’t-trust-you-because-pirates preloader gateways, those companies may quickly be discovering that they have some serious contingency planning to do to ensure all their games are supported indefinitely.

This also may inform future rulings regarded abandonware and lost franchises such as NOLF.

Because evil never dies.

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