Online Activation: The Noose Tightens

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Oct 29, 2008

Filed under: Video Games 106 comments

A reader sent me a link to this. In that thread, an EA rep explains to users that if they get banned from the forums, their game account will be banned as well. Which will lock them out of all of their games which require activation. The key post, from one of the moderators:

Well, its actually going to be a bit nastier for those who get banned.

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.

All in all, we expect people to come on here and abide by our ToS. We hate banning people, it makes our lives a lot tougher, but its what we have to do.

Those banned will stay banned, but like most other internet services, its not that hard to create a new fake e-mail account. However, its a lot harder to get a new serial key =)

Avatars should be back within 2 weeks of the launch.


That smiley is the grin of someone that knows they have hundreds of dollars of your software they’re holding hostage, so they can make you do as you’re told. And you can’t complain because, well, they can make you do as you’re told and you’ve been told to shut up. (Or if they’re being polite, they’ll allow you to go into a closet by yourself and have your say.)

You are now obliged to obey the Terms of Service and the EULA (legalese-dense documents that can change on a whim) or you will be locked out of every game you’ve legally purchased from them. You can’t see the EULA or the TOS before you buy. You can’t get your money back after opening the product to see those agreements. You can’t get your money back if they change it and you don’t like the new terms. You can’t get your money back if they ban you for breaking rules they can change at a moment’s notice. You can’t appeal if you think you were banned unfairly. And really, they can ban you for whatever reason they like, anytime they like, even if you abide by the rules. What are you gonna do? Sue Electronic Arts?

Explain to me again who the thieves are?

I’m usually gentle about this issue. I say things like, “It’s up to you to decide if these terms are acceptable to you.” and “Follow your conscience.” But own feelings are that there is no videogame fun enough to justify doing business with these people. Ever. No, not even if EA comes out with System Shock 3.

Go stomp on someone else’s face.

EDIT: And don’t forget that EA overmind John Riccitiello hates DRM. You know, even though he’s done more to further the reach of DRM and the power it exercises over legit customers than any other single person in the videogame industry.


From The Archives:

106 thoughts on “Online Activation: The Noose Tightens

  1. Kel'Thuzad says:

    Yeah… sounds like Spore isn’t going so well…
    And I was going to get it for my birthday…

    And also, Shamus… I’m sorry that you will see your beloved game’s title tarnished by EA’s hands.

    You know they’re going to do it. It’s EA.

  2. Emperor Luigi says:

    …wow. I can already feel the ranks of the pirates swelling.

  3. Sitte says:

    Do you have to have an EA game to start an account on the forums? If not, I forsee a lot of new forum accounts being started by people whose old accounts are tied to their games.

  4. SolkaTruesilver says:

    All right. I want to know
    – How to set up a paypal account to receive money
    – How to create a website that will be transparent in it’s money collection and use
    – How to create a fund that will be used by both point 1 and 2

    That fund will be used toward paying proper corporate lawyers into suing EA into the maximum number of country as possible, in order to break those behavior. I am sure a lot of people on the net would be ready to send money to a fund like that, and a faceless entity will have more chance getting at EA than one person that can be intimidated, bribed, counter-sued or simply delayed to death.

  5. scope.creep says:

    your != you’re (twice, no less)

    Tsk, tsk. I assume there was a wee bit of froth involved, thus the miss on the edit pass. ;)

  6. K says:

    Oh, great news. May I link some torrents now? They really don’t want me as a customer. In fact, they go to great lengths to make it unappealing for me to give them money. I think I will just not do that then. Have a nice day, EA.

  7. Loneduck3 says:

    Hmmm… It’s not like I’d ever go to EA’s forums or buy their games for a PC. As distasteful as this is, I won’t let it prevent me from buying good games. For example, the team behind Mirror’s Edge. All in all, that game looks good. I would not refrain from buying it simply because John Riccitiello is an ass. Of course, it’s a moot point because I can’t afford it anyway.
    Now I’m all for putting the raging preteens that just learned cusswords in their place, but you need to offer a venue for complaint, even if you aren’t going to respond to it. I can accept that EA is firmly committed to DRM. I don’t like it, but it’s not an immediate issue. But you have to allow people to discuss the totality of your product, including the DRM if you wish to include it. I understand you can control your forum. However, there are proper ways you should do so. I mean, if you don’t want to hear what they have to say, the smart thing to do would be to close the forums, give some technical BS reason.
    Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb.

  8. Apathy Curve says:

    I would happily file a (formal and polite) letter of complaint concerning my lack of desire to be extorted by that lowest of life forms, the forum moderator. However, EA have made it nearly impossible to contact them except by registering on the forums.

    That’s a mighty nice black tower you’ve built to keep we proles out in the mud, guys. I hope you rot in it. I’ll not be funding another brick of it, myself. A shame, really; EA used to be such a great company… twenty years ago.

  9. DiscountNinja says:

    I’ve been umming and ahhing over the whole DRM issue for a while. I’d almost convinced myself that for REALLY incredible games I could put up with the invasive DRM, but this is too far.

    Linking your forum account to your games acount, and banning you from them forever? Too far EA. You just lost a hell of a lot of business. The sad thing is, your suck Sims Franchise bought be many people who don’t really know about the wole DRM thing, will keep tiding you over. And we’ll lose yet more of our beloved devs :(

  10. scarbunny says:

    There was a time long ago that I would see the name EA on a game and know I was getting a well made game that I would probably enjoy.

    Now I see EA and just know I’m in for a good hard lube free screwing.

    I now refuse to by anything EA hell I wont even waste my bandwidth pirating there trash, Oh well I was looking forward to RA3.

  11. Kevin says:

    Man! I can’t wait to run out and not buy some EA games! I think today I will not buy at least $60 worth.

    How ’bout you?

  12. Hotsauce says:

    “Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once?”

    I think we just crossed the line to “transgress them at once”, and that piracy became the most ethical thing you can do.
    But then, I’m a console gamer myself, so I won’t be pirating anything. But I also won’t be buying any EA games.

  13. Factoid says:

    My tinfoil hat alarm just went off. I’m now pretty much convinced that EA is deliberately killing off the PC platform. They hate the pirates so much, that they’re waging a war of attrition against them. Except it’s not normal attrition, where you try to grind the OTHER guy down until there’s nothing left….they’re grinding THEMSELVES down, and making the pirates look on in horror, A Clockwork Orange style.

  14. Martin says:

    Not buying is not enought. You have to tell them that you are not buying. Go to your game store and tell the manager you are not buying the new EA game. If enough people do it, those managers will stock and sell less EA game. And EA will know it’s not because the game was pirated, but because they have less buyer.

  15. Sebastian says:

    For some reason, this comes to mind: The Further Adventures of GM Gabriel

  16. Dr. Fears says:

    Is there some way to give money to Maxis directly? Or maybe just the Spore team? If so… Helloooo, Bittorrent!

    I would rather give $50 to Wright than $50 to EA and trust they will give Wright his fair share (they won’t).

  17. acronix says:

    @ Martin:
    If everyone do that, they´ll link your forum and game accounts to your verbal complains. The manager will answer “I´m sorry, but you were banned!”

    Making bans from forums go all the way to the game accounts is just a brand new dimension of stupidity, one I tought couldn´t exist. Not to mention this part:

    “We hate banning people, it makes our lives a lot tougher, but its what we have to do.”

    A lot tougher? I´d say it´s a lot easier! You can ban people that you don´t like/agree with from your forums and, most importatly, you make them NEVER use THEIR games again. You know, we (the buyers) should own the game once we purchase it. But…oh, right! I forgot EA´s lema: “You don´t own the game. WE do.”

  18. Fenix says:

    Man… need to pirate if you wanna get any guarentee of keeping a game these days. I miss the days where buying the product was what you would PREFER doing. Now piracy is better in… hmmm… EVERY SINGLE WAY!!! I can’t even feel guilty pirating from EA. Do you feel guilty stealing from someone who just raped 3 babies? Seems stealing from them is a little weak these days. Personally if I saw someone raping babies I would stab the ****er, but that’s just me.

    Anyway fallout 3 is fun. A pirate like me PAID for that game. I would feel guilty otherwise.

  19. Neil D says:

    Martin’s got it right. Don’t just avoid their games, let them know exactly how and why they lost money. The company doesn’t care about you as a person and never will, but they’ve got an intense interest in how to best part you from your money. All business decisions are made on that criterion, and if you don’t let them know directly why they aren’t getting your money (outrage on the Internet is easily dismissed), they will listen to what their Marketing and P.R. people are telling them, which is usually what they want to hear.

    And for those using this as a justification to pirate, consider that piracy still helps them more than not buying and playing their game at all does. The more people play the game, the more people talk about the game, the more people hear about the game, the more people buy the game. It’s that simple. They would still rather you pirate their game, help populate their online game world, and spread the word about the game, than have you avoid them altogether. Take a stand, or admit that you’re not willing to forego your pleasure for your principles.

  20. J SMith says:

    Looks like Empire Total War will be Steam only and as such will require online activation.

    Another fine series down the drain. Why is it so difficult to do 2 versions of a game. One for Steam and the like for people that like that and another completely offline install/play/patch for people that like that?

  21. DaveMc says:

    This is remarkably evil. I *still* don’t accept the argument that this means that you have the moral right — nay, moral duty — to download their games without paying for them, but I can certainly understand people’s feelings running that way. I still side with Shamus, in that I think that the proper response to someone presenting you with an unacceptable business proposition is to refuse to do business with them.

    Still, if anything were going to get me to cheer on the pirates, it would be this sort of foolishness.

    The people I feel worst for are the developers, who are caught up in all this. I hope more developers start choosing to self-publish (or publish through saner hosts) rather than going through EA or other behemoths. If only there were some sort of globe-spanning network that would allow you to reach your potential customers directly . . .

  22. Ben Orchard says:

    This is an epic FAIL of such massive proportions that I wouldn’t have thought it possible.

    I’ll not be buying EA in the future. Morons.

  23. Mike says:

    Sooooo if you misbehave on the forums and get banned, you cannot play any games linked to that account?

    OK – while heavyhanded, this is not a problem.

    Don’t register on the forums. Just don’t.
    Especially if you are the type to really get involved in forum wars. Just go play your game.

  24. Neil D says:

    Mike, it’s not a question of how to avoid having them delete your account. It’s the very idea that they feel they have the right to effectively disable the game that you purchased from them. Right now, it’s being a dick on their forums — which is not even in-game behaviour, but something only tangentially related to the game itself. Tomorrow, who knows what other reasons they will decide are fair? But even if this is as far as it goes, it’s still much too far.

    Imagine if, after posting a negative review of a Warner Brothers movie on Amazon, or even being a jackass on their online forums (if WB even has forums, but this is hypothetical, stay with me), they were able to prevent all of your WB DVDs from playing ever again. Would that seem reasonable to you?

  25. Sir Digby Chicken Caesar says:

    I wish Blizzard would have the same policy in WoW forums. That would make them a lot more civilized instead of the wretched hive of scum and villainy they currently are.

  26. LexIcon says:

    Absolutely outstanding. EA has managed to spontaneously mutate from cold corporate behemoth without a soul into an actual cackling madman, wracked with psychosis and mumbling in the streets while wringing his hands.

    Is there a way we can have EA euthanized, and put her out of our misery?

  27. the Jack says:

    Dear Internet,

    Please give me a call when all your users understand the business of making video games, how much it costs to market the things, how many of these games tank each year costing producers millions of dollars, and why the system is the way it is and how they get AAA titles the way they do is because of companies like EA.

    Remind them that EA is the way it is because of its customers, and that this is (America, anyways) a free-market economy with freedom of speech, and that participants constantly vote with their dollars, and that even if they personally are not voting EA, hundreds of thousands of others are.

    Finally, let them know, gently, that this is the way things are and if the world really cares, these things will some day pass.

  28. James says:

    Well – if you have to buy EA games make sure you don’t have them on the same account. Get a separate *master* account for each. That way in case they freak out at something you say the damage is limited.

    Personally, I don’t intend on buying their games.

  29. Ed says:

    Poll question:

    Which is a worse offense?
    a) Horrible DRM
    b) Gloating about your horrible DRM with poor grammar.

  30. Kel'Thuzad says:


    I’ll take your second choice, because it has it so that they’ve put in the Horrible DRM and they’re gloating about it.

    About the Troll in the Corner article…
    Wasn’t the smiley more of a slap in the face, like Shamus says?

  31. LexIcon says:

    Dear theJack,

    Please answer these questions regarding your post.

    1) Why should the internet denizens have to understand the video game industry inside and out? I don’t know much about the car industry, but I still want to own my own vehicle and have it run without exploding and destroying my garage.

    2) Please explain why EA gets the right to treat customers like this? They make plenty of money from console gamers who don’t know/care about DRM to be able to mistreat their computer gamer customers for many years to come. Not giving them our money will do comparatively little, since they’ll get it from somewhere else.

    3) This is the way things are, and it’ll pass?? Really? That’s great, for the future. IF it happens. But I’d like to change the here and now, please. Try telling a starving child in Africa that his hunger is meaningless, because future generations will have food.

    In conclusion, please do not say crazy things on Shamus’s nice website.

  32. acronix says:

    @ the Jack:
    Our *ignorance* about game making business doesn´t give anyone the right to ban games we *-have-* buyed, which is what we are complaining about. Banning from the fora is one thing, but banning you from playing games you have purchased because of how you behave in a post is another.

    “Remind them that EA is the way it is because of its customers, (…) ,even if they personally are not voting EA, hundreds of thousands of others are.”

    Of course. They sell the secucrap because there´s people willing to pay them for that, and probably cheer them. But some of us don´t want to be part of those, even if EA doesn´t care, we do.

    “Finally, let them know, gently, that this is the way things are (…)”

    We “know” things are like this. If we didn´t know, we wouldn´t be complaining. Maybe if the other knew, they would be complaining too. Maybe we are not the ignorants.

    EDIT: Well, LexiCon made better points in less time. (*Punchs himself in the face*)

  33. idolminds says:


    That would be a great idea, except I had a look at the TOS. Having multiple accounts is grounds to ban all of them.

  34. Veekie says:

    Hmm, interesting, Wizards of the Coast’s D&D Insider subscription seems to work along the same basis, that is, being tied to your forums account.

    Though given the lower cost of that subscription, it’s nowhere as bad as EA’s, since you could just terminate it and maybe lose a couple months worth of subscriber fees at worst.

    You have to wonder about what kind of brains are in charge of these things. Wouldn’t it make a lot more sense to just grab a pirate copy, conjure up a fake email and account, and shit up their forums?

  35. BK says:

    Question: What’s required to get a forum account? Given the post mentioned above, it sounds as if only an email address is necessary. Which means that for a given person, this measure is either:

    -Terrifically useless. If you set up a forum account distinct from your master account.
    -Draconian. If your forum account and master account are the same.

    Yeah, this is a rather boneheaded decision. It imposes an excessive and possibly illegal punishment on users, considering that EULAs and other shrink-wrap contracts are unenforceable if you can’t easily assent to them. And it doesn’t hit the real issues, which MIGHT be solved by banning IP addresses. Lucky for me that I can’t recall the last EA game I’ve played…

  36. Rats says:


    “that this is the way things are and if the world really cares, these things will some day pass”

    We (thats you and I, as well as all of the people you have ever met) are the world. And a great deal of us do really care. There is a discussion here which is obviously going over your head, everyone who has posted here is using this as an outlet to let other people know how they feel. Shamus has pointed us to yet another example of why the world (thats us) should care.

    Many people who are not in possession of the facts will do what they have always done, but saying “I dont think its right but what can I do. I will let it sort itself out and I will continue to do as I always have” is in no way helpful.

    EDIT: Apologies, both acronix and LexiCon made this in much better time than I. acronix-LexiCon made different Points, and yours are just as relevant, dont hit yourself…

  37. Hotsauce says:

    @the Jack
    The condescending tone is insulting without stooping to actual name-calling, and the smugness adds just the right bouquet. A fine trolling effort sir. 8 of 10.

    Over the last decade or so, the free-market system has become increasingly broken in this country. A free-market economy requires healthy competition. This keeps prices down and innovation up, because consumers have plenty of places to get what they want. But as more companies are bought up by corporate giants, competition dwindles to nearly nothing, and the consumer is left with only two choices:
    1) Buy from Company A.
    2) Don’t buy at all.
    With no effective competition, Company A has no incentive to work in the best interest of the consumer. Instead, it starts making its decisions based on something other than what will drive customers to them and away from their competitors, since there pretty much aren’t any. EA has become such a behemoth. With close to no effective competition, gamers are stuck saying “well, I really want to play a game, and there’s not much other than what these guys are making, so I guess I’ll put up with it.” In a healthy free-market economy, they’d be able to say “that looks like a good game, but I’m going to play this other really good game because the company treats me better.”

    Moreover, I don’t think that anybody here has displayed any lack of understanding of the processes of the gaming industry. Rather, they simply think they don’t need to be this way. However, I reject your argument that a company needs to abuse its customers in order to produce high-quality titles.

    It seems that you’re saying that, with so much money invested in the game, the company needs to do things like these invasive Digital Restrictions Management schemes to protect their investment from piracy. This argument falls flat in the face of the fact that DRM just plain doesn’t work. At all. Not even for a week or two. Spore was available to pirates well before it was available at retail.

    I’ve seen the theme of your post echoed often in many topics, not just gaming: “Don’t bother complaining because your voice is drowned in a sea of dollars.” It conveniently leaves you free to take no action, yet still feel superior. But if you complain often enough, people start to hear you, and over time they do change their buying habits, deciding that this time, not buying at all is preferable to being treated poorly. Starbucks changed it’s business practices because enough people stopped buying from them that the sea of dollars wasn’t quite as large as it used to be, and stockholders hate that. Same goes for Wal-mart, to a smaller degree.

  38. Lady Kat says:

    @Ed – Definitely gloating. Horrible DRM just makes me mad, the gloating makes me mad enough to shoot them in the face or something, I don’t know, I’m just SAYING.

    What a bunch of jerks. Seriously, I’m shocked that these people can get away with this ridiculousness. I will NEVER buy an EA PC game ever again. Sims 2 is going in the trash, no matter how much fun it is to mod, and those expansion packs I’ve had my eye on will not be purchased. I’m done with this nonsense.

    And I won’t be pirating any of these games either. Neither the torrentz or EA offer a decent product, as one is illegal and it’s not nice to steal, and one is unplayable because they’ve decided to be a bunch of meanies and not give anyone the game without a bunch of ways to steal it back out from under them, and as I already stated, stealing is not nice.

    And as far as console game purchasing goes, I will also not buy any shiny new game that has their logo of doom on it. I will wait and buy it used, because I remember reading that this apparently gets their britches all in a twist, which is exactly what I want to do at this point. And it’s nice and legal, which makes me happy. (This whole thing reads vaguely like some kind of angry New Year’s Resolution list in retrospect, but I think I’m okay with that.)

    EDIT: @theJack – oh, troll. <3 you’re so cute, don’t you have a bridge you can go under or something?

  39. Coldstone says:

    Watching EA’s downslide has been terribly depressing.

    There was a time when EA was all about the games, and they were a young and hungry company, and they went out of their way to produce some really good stuff. They became crazy successful, and went on to greater and greater things.

    Somewhere along the line, all that money and power got into their heads, and something went horribly horribly awry. One of the most telling symptoms was when 2k Sports started putting out games to rival EA Sports titles. For less than half the cost. And just as good.

    What does EA do?

    They don’t drop prices (not at first anyway, they dropped the price down to $30 a couple months later, but only for that year), they *buy* the NFL franchise title, ensuring that nobody else can make an NFL game for 5 years (I think that comes due in a bit, now that I think about it)

    Sure enough, the next year’s NFL game is heralded as a steaming pile of crap. From what I hear, EA’s been phoning it in ever since.

    What happened? EA used to be a nice, fresh faced kid who would cheerfully deliver our paper for us, and now he’s matured into a bitter lottery winner who still deliver’s the paper, but throws it through our window and claims it’s our fault for putting a window there.

  40. Matt K says:

    @Lady Kat, I would be careful buying used EA games because most likely they have already used up their installations or are tied to another account without which it is again unplayable.

    I’m not sure that these types of complaints will have any effect on EA, they seem so deluded that it’s like complaining to a mental patient to take off the tin foil hat. That said it would probably be worthwhile to complain to the maker of said games.

    Tell Maxis (if it wasn’t owned by EA) that you will not buy the game due to the DRM, complain to the Mirror Edge crew or Bioware. Perhaps with enough complaints they’ll take their games to another publisher (an hopefully contract out of this silliness) or if we’re lucky sue EA for violating the good faith clause of the contract by tanking sales with this DRM.

  41. Illiterate says:

    Soooooo if you disagree with EA on the forums and get banned, you cannot play any games linked to that account?

    There, fixed it for you.

  42. LexIcon says:

    Well put, Coldstone, well put. The monocle-wearing avatar you were assigned suits your post.

    And thanks for the compliments guys. I’ve just gotten caught up on this blog, and I’m happy to be part of such a well-spoken and interesting crowd. That goes to Shamus too, for making a place for people like us to talk and express ourselves.

  43. droid says:

    Let us hope there is a human attached to the forums, for robots are quite arbitrary in their kicks. My brother gets kicked for saying “Hitler sucks.” 3 times in most chat rooms. The bots must be Nazi.

  44. Dev Null says:

    The weirdest thing about this entire policy, is that the only thing it accomplishes is discouraging people from using the EA forums. Which they presumably only put up to gather data about their customer base in the first place, or else to try to build some sort of sense of community among their players so they’d buy the next game – which sense of community they’ve just destroyed, along with any motivation for new people to join the forums…

    No real effect on the players (yet), but they sure do shoot themselves in the foot real purdy.

  45. General Karthos says:

    As I’m reading the post by EA, I ABSOLUTELY swear, my randomly shuffled iTunes with over 1000 songs plays the Imperial March from “The Empire Strikes Back”.

    Kinda summed up my opinion on the issue more succinctly than I could have.

  46. Dev Null says:

    Dr. Fears says:

    Is there some way to give money to Maxis directly? Or maybe just the Spore team? If so… Helloooo, Bittorrent!

    I would rather give $50 to Wright than $50 to EA and trust they will give Wright his fair share (they won't).

    Absolutely. Its not that hard to track down the company address. If your reason for pirating is the draconian DRM / policies of the distributor, then surely the only fair thing to do is still reward the developer; pop a $50 in an envelope, along with a note saying what its for and why they’re getting it this way. If enough people do it, they can take the dev team out to lunch. If _really_ enough people did it, they could fund their next project without having to go to EA…

  47. Sam says:

    Wow. I was having a tough time in my abstinence from EA, but this made it a whole lot easier. Thanks, Shamus! I now have absolutely no desire whatsoever to even think about considering giving EA any of my money anymore! I feel like actively pirating any EA game I’d formerly considered buying, like Mirror’s Edge.

    Seriously, what a terrible idea. Here’s hoping sales go down once again for the (apparently) world’s dumbest video game company.

  48. UtopiaV1 says:

    I want to contribute, but everything of value has already been said! ¬_¬

    If you want to know how i’m going to respond to this, well i’m buying a large back-catalog of old games and recent titles not produced by EA. That should get me through the gaming famine we are about to endure thanks to EA eating all the proverbial pies.

  49. Illiterate says:

    *dang, that was supposed to be right after mike’s post.


    WoTC’s D&D insider doesn’t have any initial buy-in. If they banned your user account and you really wanted another, you could open a new subscription.

    It would be the same if they made you buy a new player’s handbook to register a new forum account.

  50. Simplex says:

    While trying to find out why PS2-style usb controller is not working properly in Dead Space I came across a topic on drm and contributed:

    I’m not sure, but I think I read the ‘store analogy’ on this blog (whether it was Shamus, or someone in comments) so just in case I credited Twenty Sided Tales after someone wrote “I love your store owner analogy- it is so dead on.”

  51. Lady Kat says:

    @Matt K
    I didn’t actually mean used PC titles. Those I’m going to abstain from altogether, and obviously, with all their current idiocy, wouldn’t work. I meant I was going to transfer my irritation with EA right over into the console market and not buy any new console titles of theirs. I remember reading something or other that says that used game sales were taking money away from them….I think linked here?(Shamus post? Reply to post? I don’t know, I can’t remember.) Anyhoo, let’s use Mirror’s Edge as an example, since it sounds freaking amazing. There is not a snowball’s chance in hell that I’ll buy this game for PC. Seeing as how I plan to buy a PS3 eventually, I will probably get it then. And I will wait to get a used copy, possibly on eBay or some other such vendor so they will receive no revenue from my purchase, which makes them all grouchy face. At this point, I vote yes for anything that pisses them off and saves me money in the process.
    Thanks for the warning, though! ^_^

  52. Merle says:

    I’ve already bought Spore, but come to the conclusion that I will not be purchasing any more programs from EA. Not even, and it truly pains me to say this, any sequel to the game as long as EA has their DRM-soaked talons sunk into it.

    It’s a damned shame, too.

  53. Plasma says:

    Okay, I was convinced that piracy is wrong, largely by this blog.

    But now EA Games is making it so tempting to pirate some of their games just to punish them.

  54. Clint says:

    Off topic, but amusing link:

    MTV is hosting Weird Al’s “Don’t Download This Song” on their music video site… except they bleeped out all of the names of filesharing programs he mentions in the song. How paranoid can you get?


  55. Oleyo says:

    I am so glad that I don’t own any EA games from this decade. I will never buy another product from them ever, no matter how appealing the game may seem. I would rather see the whole industry burn and go indie, than to support these criminals.

    Also, I would like to say that I am up to date on the DRM front mostly because of this site, Shamus. So thank you.

  56. Illiterate says:


    Pirating the game doesn’t punish EA.

    Pirating their studios, by which I mean ramming into the studios with a ship o’ the line, bombarding the break room with cannonade and setting fire to the render farm, well that might punish EA.

    It’s also significantly less “gray” from a moral and ethical standpoint.

  57. Illiterate says:

    Also reminds me of this (sorry, firefox only sometimes allows me to edit posts, would love any ideas on correcting this)

  58. Veekie says:


    Well, it’s similar, but not identical, as I said. WotC’s is a lot more stomachable, simply because you could go at it again. You still get a small monetary loss(compared to the price of an PC game these days, or even the PHB) if you’ve subscribed and some mod is on a power trip though.

    Though with the content I’ve seen so far, I’ll pass on subscribing. And with the way gaming is going, I’m glad I stopped buying new games for years, Roguelikes, Dwarf Fortress and DOS emulated games will keep me fed game wise until the industry wakes up.

    It’s interesting how the old 2d Worms games still rocks for example.

  59. David B says:

    As mentioned above, I also wish Blizzard would do the same thing with their forums. It would certainly reduce the amount of asshattery on the boards.

    That said, Blizzard also issues temporary suspensions, recognizing that not all violations are completely intentional or as bad as others.

    I’m willing to be that the big problem EA is having on their boards is people wanting to discuss DRM – a topic they seem to consider off-limits. That generalized idiot behavior is not what prompted this measure. And that’s what’s going to hurt EA the most in the war of public relations.

  60. LexIcon says:

    @ Illiterate:

    You wouldn’t happen to be in possession of one of them ships ‘o the line, would ye? I do happen to be a first rate sailor and vagabond, if I do say so meself.

    Avast! To the demon’s hovel, to pillage and burn!

  61. Philip says:

    Great you just convinced me not buy RA3 and I have been a C&C fan once the series started.

  62. R4byde says:

    Looks like Empire Total War will be Steam only and as such will require online activation.

    Another fine series down the drain. Why is it so difficult to do 2 versions of a game. One for Steam and the like for people that like that and another completely offline install/play/patch for people that like that?

    NOOOOO! I was actually looking forward to that! The first game I’ve wanted enough to buy new, and they stick it with Steam!? Who hates me so badly?

  63. Plasma says:

    Illiterate: Yeah, I know. It wouldn’t punish them, it would only give me a slight twinge of satisfaction. But I’m certainly never going to buy their games now, I guess I’m just saying they’ve removed any guilt I might have had if I were to wind up pirating their games. Which I actually probably won’t because they don’t have much in the way of good games.

    Though pillaging the studios wouldn’t be as effective in hurting EA as pillaging EA’s actual offices. I’d say John Riccitiello and his cronies probably are due for a good keel-hauling.

    Unless the idea in pirating the studios was to kidnap the developers and force them to work on DRM-free games, in which case it just might work.

  64. acronix says:

    I support the idea of getting a ship of the line in middle of the street to bombard EA´s offices. If we abstain from buying their games for a couple of years, we´ll probably get enough to buy the ship and some cannons!

    Also I like the idea of putting a ship with a pirate flag in front of their offices, with the crew yelling while pointing at them with scimitars and ale bottles: “Thank you for giving us more willing adepts, punks!”

  65. Kameron says:

    Just a reminder that Maxis and BioWare are in-house studios, wholly owned by EA. They won’t be publishing any titles independently or with another publisher regardless of how much money you send them directly or how loud and long you complain.

  66. Pingback: =) at Augury
  67. MrNiceGuy says:

    I forsee the following unintended consequences for E.A.:

    1) Hacker or disgruntled ex-EA employee cracks / copies EA’s customer register key database and logins. It can’t be any harder that breaking a bank’s database and I’m sure EA has made enough enemies out there with enough skill to do this.
    2) Said person begins to systematically get accounts banned again and again from the forum, locking hundreds even thousands of innocent customer’s accounts.
    3) Lawsuits start to pour in. Class action status will be filed and granted.
    4) EA no longer exists, millions of games no longer work. DRM earns the same reputation fiat currency is about to enjoy.

  68. Jabor says:

    I’m interested in participating in this whole “ship” thing.

  69. ehlijen says:

    EA has been dead to me for while now. This just turns it into a rotting zombie that drives me further away with its stench.

    By this logic, governments will soon cite jaywalking infrictions as reason to cancel passports to citizens. They’re just being vindictive idiots. This has nothing to do with DRM, nothing even with forum control. This is them saying “we’re not competent enough to regulate our OWN forums, so we’ll just be a vindictive moron about it and STEAL $60+ from everyone who looks at us sdeways!”

    If the STEAL from us (and I don’t care how their EULAS make it sound like “not stealing”), I can’t denounce stealing from them anymore. It’s still not right (and I don’t think they have much in the way of games worth stealing), but it’s like not shooting back in a spaghetti western duel.

    I’m just wondering how long it’ll be until you can’t ‘rent’ and play the sequels until you’ve ‘rented’ every previous game ever made in that series first, as they’ll not give you an account otherwise. Even if they don’t sell the first game in the series anymore. Maybe not buying one ea game will be a crime soon? Maybe saying “I don’t own NFL sim quest 1 but I liked 2” on their forum will get you banned as a pirate soon?

    EA needs to dissappear. It’s reached the point where it’s killing the free market as far as computer games are concerned and it’s wholly enjoying the power it gets out of that. When that happened to MS, US courts stepped in. But for some reason games aren’t a ‘serious’ market and I don’t think we can hope for such help :(

  70. Evlkritter says:

    I have not yet read all of the comments, but I would like to get my say in before I slog in.

    EA is shooting itself…
    in the auss…
    with a shotgun…
    a fully automatic shotgun…
    with a ‘hundred pound drum…

  71. MrValdez says:

    I’m curious of what you will think of this:

    Basically, Bethesda said that they won’t be using DRM. But gamers who brought Fallout 3 said that it has SecureRom.

    According to reports, Fallout 3 won’t run on a PC with “recognized” piracy tools installed — that includes Daemon Tools, Sonic, Roxio and similar software.

    One of the comments on that post said:

    I read a bit at the linked forum thread, and boy it is weak. Nero is also listed amongst piracy software, and the customer service told to guy to uninstall such software, leaving only windows default cd writing software.

  72. Kel'Thuzad says:

    About the Store Analogy:

    It doesn’t work. See, once you’ve gotten past the frisking, it’s done. They can’t harass you anymore. It’s yours, once you leave. With DRM on games, they keep bothering you until you inevitably get fed up with the DRM and uninstall.

  73. ngthagg says:

    I have to wonder if this is going to be the proverbial straw for intrusive DRM and licensing. The class action suit mentioned in the OP is one thing, but it targets what I think is the lesser problem.

    I’ve been suspicious for a while of the enforcability of EULAs and TOSs. Is clicking a button really going to hold up in court as a binding agreement? Especially if, as Shamus points out, I had no real opportunity to evaluate the contract beforehand? But it hasn’t really been an issue, because the contracts were essentially unenforcable. I know for a fact that I’ve broken EULAs in the past, as I’m sure most of us have. Until EA installs cameras in my house (coming in Spore2!), however, they aren’t going to catch me lending a copy of a game to my roommate.

    But now they’ve set up a way to monitor you (on the forums) and a way to punish you (forbidding access). And that is going to give someone a reason to challenge this whole scheme. And I’m sure somewhere in the US there are lawyers willing to take on a company as big as EA on commission.

  74. Winter says:

    So… let me see if i have this right…

    When you “purchase” a game by EA you agree to a contract that says that EA still owns everything you “purchased”, which you aren’t allowed to see before you agree to and which EA can change at any time without informing you (meaning it might not even be the contract you’re agreeing to when you agree to it), and you aren’t allowed to criticize them without being punished…

    I think i’m going to go get an eyepatch and funny hat now. If those are the choices EA wants us to make i know which one i’ll make.

    (Actually i just won’t buy any EA games… i used to have a policy of not buying EA games on the principle that they were bad, but that was flexible. Now, though…)

  75. Fafner says:

    Not to mock your pain, but if you want to know how bad DRM can really get, look at court reporting software. It’s insanely expensive, it’s necessary to my livelihood, and I have to carry it around on my back every day. The software companies know this, and they do everything within their power to impoverish and humiliate me, even though the current risk of piracy in the court reporting world is essentially nil. (I’m actually not a court reporter; I’m an academic stenographer, aka CART provider, but I use the same equipment and software.) Quoted from my blog:

    Good thing I finally decided to cough up $600 for a year’s worth of upgrades yesterday, huh? Maybe when I’m really rich I’ll pay $300 so that I can keep one dongle plugged into my home computer and another one in my laptop bag so I don’t have to be perpetually terrified that I’ll forget the dongle when I pack for work one day and render my $4,000 software completely useless until I go back to retrieve it. Not that I could actually have two instances of Eclipse running on each computer at the same time, mind you. That would be piracy! (Hell, I can’t even have two instances of Eclipse running on the same computer. Because allowing me to edit transcripts in one instance while allowing the other instance to be connected to the steno machine so I could be prepared to start writing at any moment is just too high tech for our tiny little stenog minds.) Oh yeah, and I have to make sure to register the $300 extra key online every three months, or it’ll expire. Because there’s nothing court reporters like doing more than trolling the 1337 torrentz for k-rad warez.


    Oh, one more thing. Let’s say, the other night, those boys had mugged me for my backpack rather than my phone. Computer, gone. Well, I have a spare computer. It’s kind of slow, but it works fine. Steno machine, gone. Well, if that machine I ordered ever comes, I’m prepared for that contingency too. Eclipse dongle, gone. No such thing as a backup dongle. The thieves could probably get $500 or so for my computer. I suppose it’s conceivable that they could get a couple hundred for the steno machine, if they were able to figure out what it was and sold it on eBay or something, but the dongle is absolutely useless to them. No possible way of selling it if they don’t want the laptop to be traced back to me. Even if I pay $300 for the “convenience key” before the theft, it has to be reset from the main dongle every few months. So if my dongle gets stolen, I am responsible for the full cost of the software: $4,000. Police reports proving that it’s no longer in my possession? They don’t care. It’s in the company policy: no negotiating. I have to buy the software twice.

    This is what happens when DRM gets out of control. Fight the good fight! If gamers win, maybe professionals will be able to win back some of the ground we’ve had yanked away from us.

  76. Barron says:

    To me, the really interesting thing about this is that EA isn’t even pretending to be doing it for a good reason. Even with the Spore DRM we can all imagine that there is an executive who thinks that EA will somehow sell more nits despite abusing their customers. With this announcement there is no pretense whatsoever that they have any motivation other than because they can. At this point, I’m beginning to wish that EA would just stop making PC games so gamers would instead support decent developers. Back to Dwarf Fortress for me

  77. Veloxyll says:

    Oh delicious irony. As someone else in the comments had mentioned: REading Shamus’ blog had gotten me to swear off piracy.

    And now EA comes out with this delightful DRM scheme of BANNING your game usage if they ban you from the forums. And I’m back raising the Jolly Roger again, or just playing WOW, one or the other. Because EA has made me NOT CARE if I steal their games.
    And after playing pirate versions, it is HARD to go back to a limited purchased version. Game companies should surely be trying to ENCOURAGE people to make the transition from pirate to customer, not make them regret paying money.

    Also, curious aside: how the devil am I supposed to be contractually bound to EA or whoever. EB Games etc are not, as far as I know, agents of EA or whoever, so the only contractual obligations I have are covered by trading acts. For the software my only obligation is to not violate copyright law.

  78. Arson55 says:

    EA, *shakes head in disgust* is this just some power trip or are you all idiots?

    Oh, and Veloxyll, is that Utena? Freaking awesome.

  79. Alex says:

    I’ve thought of pirating EA games out of protest, but I don’t feel like screwing over the people who do any real work there, based on the draconian business decisions of their CEOverlords. Besides, whether or not it sent the right message, it’s not like the John Riccitiellos would ever hear it. Solid gold earplugs, I’m sure.

    Of course, I can’t really talk against piracy. My music folders can attest to my less than pristine values. It just seems pointless to me in this situation. They wouldn’t get the message. Pirating their unremarkable sequels-I mean games might say “Fight the Power!”, but it just gets translated to them as: “Punish the people who give you your paycheques HARDER this time.” It also hurts the actual designers and employees more than the people who are in need of being called out on their chicanery.

    Not that I have any sympathy for anyone willing to work for EA, but I figure there’s gotta be at least somebody there who isn’t Snidely Whiplash. And as the current economic crisis can attest, employees tend to get screwed over before executives and CEO’s. If by some chance the populace rose up in great numbers and stopped buying EA games, do you think John Riccitiello would be layed off? How about people who are considered more expendable, and maybe didn’t have any say in some of the more face-palming decisions made by this company in recent times?

    EDIT: Fafner- Wow. I must say, yours is a predicament I do not envy. Just reading about that kind of experience makes my head hurt. Really, I think my brain is trying to escape my skull. >_@

    If nothing else, it’s taught me which career path NOT to take.

  80. Chris Arndt says:

    So one can pay and pay and pay and pay and pay but it will still never be yours and the Great Self-Appointed but not Original Authority can swoop in and take it from you?

    This is why I am a libertarian. Because this sort of stuff hacks me off. When I can be budged from the ultimate control of my own property by someone who is not God I get pissed.

    Who wants some?

  81. Ross says:

    Here’s my superfluous two-cents.

    There is a finite number of PC gamers out there – period. Let’s call this group X.

    A portion of this group are aggressive non-payers – pirates if you will. We will call this group Y.

    There is another, smaller section, of very casual gamers who will buy at most a game a year, and simply play their friends games the rest of the time. We are the Z’s.

    So, the formula is: Sales = X – (Y plus Z). That’s the whole portion of X you can sell to, no matter what. Now if you are greedy and stupid, you can generate an entire new group in the market. Desperately unhappy gamers who want to buy your games but refuse to, because you won’t really sell to them. We will call this group P, for p*ssed off.

    Now your formula looks like this:
    Sales = X – (Y plus Z plus P).

    And that dear financial genius is less X = less dollars.

    As a quick aside I completely reject the false claim that a giant producer like EA is even necessary to get good games selling well for their developers. Hello, internet. All the real – paying – gamers, learn about games, share info about games and mostly even buy games online.

    Free yourselves from the shackles of corporate greed and sell your games directly to us!

  82. Conlaen says:

    If you have said something naughty on a forum, they will restrict your access to a single player game like Spore? Where you have no human interaction? Where, even if you are an ass on the forums, you will never be able to offend anyone in any way? Well that sounds *totally* reasonable of course!

  83. MechaCrash says:

    This comment originally said it didn’t install SecuROM.

    Turns out I was looking in the wrong place. I’ve got it.

    I am absofuckinglutely furious. I bought the PC version specifically because I thought it did not have this kind of utter bullshit in it.

  84. Vacca says:

    I haven’t bought a PC game in over a year now, and I don’t see this as changing that any time soon. Funny thing is, I used to be the gaming industries best friend as I’d buy just about everything. If they can chase me away, how much longer before they kill the golden goose completely. The PC gaming market (take away WoW for this example) is shrinking already. DRM and gestapo tactics like this, piled on top of ridiculous computer requirements, tech demonstration games and hours long learning curves, have pushed people away.

    Ahhhh for the good old days. I even used to enjoy games on DOS.

  85. StingRay says:

    You know, buying used EA console games is a good idea. I was kinda depressed because EA has finally crossed my tolerance line. They’ve been toeing it for a long time, but this is a step far too far. As such, I absolutely won’t buy anymore of their games, which was bad because I was really looking forward to Mirror’s Edge and finally getting the Rock Band series. But, with used games, I get the games I want and EA doesn’t get any of my money. Brilliant!

  86. Martin says:

    I smell a class-action lawsuit. That’s ridiculous. The people behind that policy need firing, then shot. Then put in their old chairs after visiting a well-paid taxidermist as a reminder to the rest of the people in the company of what not to do.

  87. TashunkaSapa says:

    Alex: “If by some chance the populace rose up in great numbers and stopped buying EA games, do you think John Riccitiello would be layed off? How about people who are considered more expendable, and maybe didn't have any say in some of the more face-palming decisions made by this company in recent times?”

    A laudable sentiment – but this might actually turn out to be a blessing in disguise. If enough talented developers suffered such a fate at the hands of EA, one would hope that a more reasonable competitor would snatch them up and we’d finally be able to buy those developers’ games without fear of feeding the morally impaired EA behemoth.

  88. Oleyo says:

    “I feel like actively pirating any EA game I'd formerly considered buying, like Mirror's Edge.”

    Awww. Mirror’s Edge will be EA? This is the first game in a long time where I actually cared that I would not be playing because it is associated with these criminals.

    Go, my pretty little dollars! Vote! VOTE! MUHUHAHAHAHHA!

  89. Heph says:

    Damnit, and I really like Red Alert and wanted to buy the next one, too. Gah.

    The problem is EA’s involved with too many games :-(

  90. YaVerOt says:

    Are the stocks still down? Can we take all the money we’re saving by not buying EA Games, and just buy EA with it. Then take our majority shareholder position and fire the people at EA who don’t understand DRM.

  91. elda says:

    back to the pirate idea. it would be pretty cool if we organized a protest in which we all dress up as pirates and picket infront of the EA studios or offices or something.

  92. MechaCrash says:

    Erm. I just noticed that I never specified what the “it” that slipped me SecuROM was in my post, which is number 85. I originally specified it was Fallout 3, but when I edited the post, I was a little too pissy to remember to leave that detail in.

  93. Terran says:

    Cheery news: EA earnings are down…

    (Dunno if the link will work)

  94. roxysteve says:

    True signs of maturity:

    1) Learning how and when to use a dictionary. I can recommend several.

    2) Learning how to use adverbs instead of misplaced adjectives. By doing so, one acts maturely.

    3) Knowing when it is and is not appropriate to use punctuation and math characters to draw pictures in your text

    4) Getting a clue and realising that the “fake” e-mail accounts will be used to make posts that may get banned, thus protecting the game account.


  95. ab says:

    EA is right.

  96. MuonDecay says:

    I’m really, sincerely appalled by this. EA has become so extremely hostile to the people they are dependent upon to exist.

    They used to be a loyal family dog, fetching the paper for you and playing games with you to keep you happy.

    Now they sulk in a corner, an ireful glare directed at you at all times. When it’s time to come to you, seeking the meal they need to survive, it is with bared teeth, snarling at your hand as they lunge at it and snatch their food, and retreat to their corner. If you approach, or speak to them, their head turns, and they emit a deeply hateful growl, as if wishing you dead, but unwilling to commit the act, for knowledge that, though they hate you with all their being, they must allow you to exist, because without you they are nothing.

    This has become a sad, evil company. They possess nothing now of any value to gamers. Other companies can and do make games good enough to keep us entertained, without resorting to purchasing from people who sincerely seem to hate us for no reason at all.


    Oops! Looks like the Mod who made that post has now issued a retraction, saying that the things they have said about the issue were due to a misunderstanding, and that they are not true.

    Apparently, being banned from the forums is separate from being banned from games… and you would have to be banned from each game, or the forums, individually, instead of as a whole.

    This is good news, though I’ve already made up my mind. I’m tired of coming to people who hate me and trying to do business. Their competitors make games just as good. I lose out on nothing by putting an end to this abusive relationship. Enough is enough, I’m just going to go deal with nicer people from now on. Some of them even give me their games for free. Seriously, EA, who the hell do you think you people are? We don’t need you, go away.

    Retraction has been posted here:

  97. Kallahim says:

    I have fallout 3 and there is a secuROM check for the CD only and it didnt like vista 64. Fortunately, Bethesda linked to a fixed secuROM exe which solved my problems. I actually have to give them props for releasing the patched exe only hours of release and not denying the problem until it went away. While a SecuROM is DRM and it was annoying because I had to patch it, it really is only a CD check, and there isnt any server authentication nor do you have to even type in long cd code. This stated in this thread (the one that solved my problems) In my opinion, its exactly what they said it would be a mild form of DRM and not this draconian stuff that EA is putting out with limited installs and online authentication. I think a cd-check is a perfectly fine thing to protect their interests, I totally disagree with EA system of online authentication because it ties you to their server for better or for worse. I don’t want to ever have to pirate the game that i bought just to run it 3 years down the line.

  98. MechaCrash says:

    If you have the PC version of Fallout 3, just change the shortcut so it points to fallout3.exe instead of falloutlauncher.exe. For some reason, the check is on the launcher, not the game itself, so if you do that, you can run without the disc.

    This does not excuse SecuROM, of course, but there it is.

  99. Long John Silver says:

    Two words:
    – Electronic Arts?
    – No. Pirate Bay.

  100. Jim Profit says:

    This is why I stopped giving a fuck what people think a long time ago and just started pirating everything. My computer is too shitty to pirate videogames. But you can bet if I could, I would.

    I always get a kick out of mods saying “we don’t like to ban people”. Oh sure you don’t. There’s nothing at all to like about getting what YOU want, and just excluding people and making your dick look big by being an ass to everybody else…

    Someone should fucking bomb EA. Get some Jihadists on the phone and offer them double the virgins their Muslim clerics are paying them. I always hated internet mods, but ones that get money are even worse.

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