EA Threatens Game Bans for Forum Activity (Updated)

By Chris Faylor, Oct 30, 2008 9:08am PDT Update: Electronic Arts has clarified to Shacknews that the situation stemmed from a "misunderstanding," explaining that "access to the forums and access to the games are separate" and that "each forum, game and service is managed independently by customer support representatives."

Original Story: Owners of Electronic Arts published titles such as Spore and Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 may end up banned from playing their games if they get banned from any EA-moderated forum, according to this post from moderator eaapoc:

Your forum account will be directly tied to your Master EA Account, so if we ban you on the forums, you would be banned from the game as well since the login process is the same. And you'd actually be banned from your other EA games as well since its all tied to your account. So if you have SPORE and Red Alert 3 and you get yourself banned on our forums or in-game, well, your SPORE account would be banned to. It's all one in the same, so I strongly reccommend people play nice and act mature.

Similar threats emerged earlier this year, when Spore forumites were threatened with bans for discussing the title's controversial DRM, though EA later stepped in to clarify that the threat stemmed from an "over-zealous community volunteer" and was "absolutely not true or in-line with EA's moderation policy."

"What if some moderator goes off on a power trip?" asked Shacker Pugnate, who tipped us off to the news. "Does he seriously have the right to block access to software you legally purchased?"

Faylor's Take: To reiterate my previous stance, I certainly sympathize with the plight of those that have been tasked with watching over a game's official forums. But I really can't believe that EA has allowed this to pop up once again.

Apart from scaring posters into submission and causing even more controversy, I can't think of one reason to even bring up the idea of removing a consumer's ability to play their $50 game because of a questionable forum violation.

I can understand removing a user's posting privileges--I'm sure this has already happened multiple times--but the idea that there aren't varying levels of privileges--ie, separate posting and game access--to these accounts is an obscene oversight.

The implications of preventing owners from playing the $50 game they legitimately bought because of something they posted on the forums are mind boggling, and I really, really can't see this policy flying once the press runs with it and the higher-ups are made aware.

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70 Threads* | 325 Comments*

  • Honestly, I don't think EA really even breaks a sweat over this "controversy." After all, we're only talking about the PC market here anyway, which as we all know seems to be the "problem child" of platforms. A few points to consider...

    - Both Spore and C&C:RA3 are PC only games (at this point).
    - DRM complaints in general appears to be an exclusive problem with customers on the PC platform
    - When C&C:RA3 releases for X360 in November, I'd be willing to wager the anti-DRM sentiments from those players will be close to the 0% margin, which should prevent them from complaining about it on the forums.

    Lastly, the most important point to consider (also from today's news articles)...

    - "The Xbox 360 remains the most important platform for EA, as Microsoft's console generated 25% ($224 million) of the company's revenues in the quarter, which ended September 30. After that, the PlayStation 3 accounted for $98 million, the PC $88 million, PlayStation 2 $55 million and the Wii $33 million."

    Now, I will admit that I don't own any gaming consoles (aside from my beloved SNES), nor do I own any EA games for said non-existant consoles. I cannot say firsthand if there is some EA account linked to the ability to play EA games on any console. I can only guess, however, that full functionality of any console game is completely independent of ones behavior in EA's forums. The same cannot be said for PC users.

    So, to sum it all up... EA is in a comfortable position where they don't really have to care if people despise their bans. PC customers complain the loudest, and conversely have far more issues to complain about. Whereas console owners bring in almost 5 times as much revenue (and that's in a quarter with two significant PC-only releases), and seem to complain significantly less. EA, like any company, is making a business decision not based on what's right, but based on what's profitable. It's their right. So, basically, customers (especially those in the PC market) are screwed, and will continue to be screwed if they chafe against the corporate authority.

    * As a side note... FUCK YOU EA!! I play games exclusively on the PC and was "planning" on purchasing Spore before the initial DRM controversy. Just as I was really looking forward to playing RA3 after you're subsequent clarification, up until right before I read today's latest douchebaggery. I'm voting with money, and 50 little George Washintons are telling me not support your company unless serious consideration is taken to see how you're affecting the people that pay your bills. Not that you'll listen to me, since I'm a PC gamer.

  • I'm really suprised at the amount of people that feel this is an okay ruling by EA... where do you draw the line of what is a bannable offense? every moderator can think with there own minds and have different opinions on what is not okay to say and do in a forum. I can't support EA anymore for this most likely, its one thing to bully your way as a company and do things in a business sense (Madden) but when it comes to them making the rules as a judge of conduct that crosses a line that once over can never be undone...

    This is much bigger than EA, this will effect other companies business practices and decisions based on how this plays out....

  • Once a long while back someone said they were boycotting EA, I think it was a member of a counter strike clan I was in.. I thought he sounded stupid and the idea of boycotting EA was rediculous to me..

    Now I can supersize with him, personally I will never spend another dime on EA software, I will however aquire it in any other way I can.

    This latest scheme of theirs to ban users from software they purchased is beyond crazy, there has to be some legality issues regarding this practise of ban forum / ban software.. unfortunately the poor little SOB's getting banned probably cant afford a lawyer.

    Picking on the little guy is never cool.. people act out, get mad, over react, I do it and I know every one of you does it or has done it, I dont care what you say, its human nature. This story gives me the willies and makes me sick.

  • I personally, am an avid 100% EA Hater! I will proudly state and repeat that anytime and everywhere. However, it is not without reason. That said, I am in 100% agreement with EA's stance on this, and I hope they do NOT back down. But not for the reasons they are trying to shove down everyone's throat.

    If someone is actively disrupting another user's experience, the person being a trouble maker should be dealt with. However, the system should be designed in such a manner that it is mostly user controlled. If someone gives bad information, spams, flames, etc there should be a voting system in place that users can use to make those posts hidden for the average user who is going to be upset by the comments. The EA forums are like......I can't even think of a word low enough to describe the effectiveness, usefulness and intuitiveness of how bad they are. They are BAD. Uber bad. Super bad. EA bad.

    The rest of my post touches upon, but does not exactly add anything to this discussion. I don't think..eh who knows, have fun reading my book! :)

    The problem is EA has been generating a LOT of BAD publicity by pulling stunts that are not widely accepted by a majority of their user base, and seeming to not care what their customers have for opinions.

    Now, when a user makes a valid complaint without the use of cuss words, like my posts, they should expect to be treated and responded to the same. The problem, is when EA does **nothing** to subside a users fears about a particular issue they may be experiencing, or EA blames the issue on something not under their realm of responsibility, which they think is rather small.

    Forum Anonymity will see a lot of level headed people, who are simply frustrated with a lack of support, say a lot of things they would otherwise never say if they simply felt appreciated as a customer.

    EA's whole problem is they have no clue, no understanding and certainly a complete lack of common sense with how to appreciate a customer and treat them fairly with the respect they have PAID for. Their whole "you are buying a license" to play the game stance, is laughable and used to try and justify the actions they take. EA != Microsoft. Though they are certainly trying to corner some parts of the gaming market with a monopoly on sport games.

    To everyone hating on EA "just cause" - Grow up would ya? This coming from a person who hates the fact that EA swallowed up Westwood, the best damn company ever and has continued to ruin the wonderful C&C Universe.

  • I am glad Shacknews brought attention to this. There was something else that troubled me about the post from that EA moderator. Did anyone notice he was being a bit of a dick? There wasn't a hint of remorse or restraint in the tone of his post. It was almost as if he was relishing the extra power.

    Now I am sure that much is obvious to most of you, but it isn't the sort of thing you'd expect from a professional EA employee.... especially one with the ability to permanently suspend your access to all that expensive software you bought.... err... excuse me... I mean licensed.

  • EA needs to just make a forum account separate from their game logins and that will solve everything.
    I don't particularly care if they decide to ban people and their games stop working online. It will serve notice not to act like a fuckin' tard, but this type of shit is ripe for abuse...
    My brother comes in and does something on my computer and now my game doesn't work...

    I also don't like the fact that EA threatens people this way. Despite what their intentions are, I personally take this as a threat and not a warning. Others may feel the opposite.