Monday, January 16, 2012

EA - Deal with it

(logo courtesy of someone on the Bioboards.. I guess)

Chris Priestly says: 

Below are answers to the most commonly asked questions about Origin and Mass Effect 3. Thank you for your patience as we have worked to answer them.

1) Will Origin be a requirement to play all versions of Mass Effect 3? (Digital and/or from a retail brick and mortar store)
Yes, Origin is required for all PC editions of Mass Effect 3, physical or digital.

Wooohoo, another bloatware running alongside my games, preferably as a Windows service, and does absolutely nothing for me then being an inoperable cancer that eats ressources and is a constant annoyance.

2) Is constant Origin connection required or is it a single one off authentication when the game is first installed. Is there also a limit to the number of installations available?
Mass Effect 3 will require a one time, single authorization for the single player game. There is no limit to the number of installs. Playing Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer will require a constant connection.

Nothing a CD check couldn't do as well, and multiplayer is the best DRM even without having to run Origin. Don't come with anti-cheating, punkbuster functions etc. now, ME3's multiplayer is a Coop mode (which most people probably have zero interest in anyway).

3) Is Origin required for the retail versions of the game?
Origin is required for the PC versions of Mass Effect 3, both physical and digital.

While you say PC - Just for the record and as some sort of comparison to your competitor - EA is also the largest publisher for Mac games, yet Origin is not available for the Mac. Steam has that neat little feature called "SteamPlay", which allows you not only to start a game on computer 1 and continue on computer 2, but even allows that cross-plattform. Oh right, and when you buy a cross-plattform title, you automatically own the game for all supported plattforms.  EA does not even have any solution for Mac gamers, can't even download one.

4) Will ME3 be available on Steam?
During initial release Mass Effect 3 will be available on Origin and a number of other 3rd party digital retailers, but not on Steam at this time. Steam has adopted a set of restrictive terms of service which limit how developers interact with customers to deliver patches and other downloadable content.  We are intent on providing Mass Effect to players with the best possible experience no matter where they purchase or play their game, and are happy to partner with any download service that does not restrict our ability to connect directly with our consumers.

Let me rephrase this: Steam wants to offer the DLCs and patches and everything the consumer needs to play all in one place - their store. That does NOT mean Steam restricts publishers to sell the DLCs only to their store, it just means that if they want to publish their game on Steam, they have to offer all the DLCs on Steam too instead of having the customer buy it in their own place only.
Steam of course wants a little share of the profit in return.
What EA would have to deal with is 1. that customers can pay for the DLCs with real money and not with abstract Bioware points, and 2. that Steam might offer the customer a better deal, while EA has never ever had a special deal for DLCs ever. Oh, and has anyone ever tried to buy only one single DLC like, say, Kasumi for ME2 for I think 540 Bioware points? Right, you can't buy 540 Bioware points, only 800 or 1600. So if you want to buy Kasumi, you pay for 800 Bioware points and then look for an option to spend the remaining 260 points somewhere... oh damn, there is no DLC for 260 points? Ah, too bad.
Oh, and have you ever compared prices between the Bioware point shop and the only other place where you can get Bioware points (the EA store?) Don't laugh if you do, it's just sad. 
End of the line: Stop feeding us EA's PR talk, it's ridiculous. For the player, Steam offers the better deal.

5) Is there an opt in or opt out clause for data collection? 
Users will be allowed to opt-out of Mass Effect 3 data collection from inside the game.

Great wording here. You can opt out of ME3's ingame feedback just like you could in Dragon Age and Mass Effect 2. This has nothing to do with Origin, you can't opt out on anything in Origin.
For the recoird, Steam asks before it does hardware surveys and you can opt out anytime, you even have to opt in in the first place. Origin just mines.

6) I’ve seen reports that Origin is spyware.  Is this true?
Origin is not spyware, and does not use or install spyware on user’s machines.  In order to allow Origin to install games and their patches for everyone to use, Origin implements a permission change that results in Windows, not Origin, reviewing the filenames in the ProgramData/Origin folder.   This is an ordinary Windows function, not an information-gathering process. 

Past versions looked very much like Spyware, current versions don't, but EA's EULA grants them every right to change that right in the next update. We'll see what happens once the current shitstorm is over and EA has forced a large enough user base together. It could happen anytime without further notice. Also, there might be a difference between "Windows just does stuff without us doing anything" and actively using these ordinary Windows functions to your advantage.

7) Has the Origin EULA been updated following recent questions in Germany?
The German Origin EULA has been updated.  For more information, please review the Origin EULA here:

Wrong link mister Priestly, the German EULA is here:
Here I must say I'm proud of the German community that actually seems to care a lot more than what I've seen elsewhere. It's the proof for what the naysayers don't want to see, that you don't have to be sheep and actually can do something as a consumer, instead of just swallowing everything a company feeds you. It just takes a little more than sitting around saying "can't change them anyway, gotta accept it, and I have nothing to hide anyway". If you have enough backbone, you can do something, in the end it's YOUR money that leads to any company's decisions.

8) Is there a double-opt in for Mass Effect 3 marketing emails for German residents?
Yes, we always adhere to the German requirement of a double opt-in standard for marketing emails.  Mass Effect 3 users must opt-in twice to receive these emails.

Another proof for the above. German residents get their own EULA and their own opt-out/opt in standards. Do you think EA did that on their own because they're nice? No, they were forced to because the German gaming community caused a shitstorm for them. Without that, the EULA in Germany would still be the same as the international version. Don't ever think you can't change anything.

I appreciate everyone's patience on this topic. Please continue to ask questions about Mass Effect 3 and Origin and I will continue to try to get the answers for you.

 ... said on Friday evening before he ran off to the weekend, while the Thread has been coming near the 200 pages by now full of unanswered questions. It was stickied and unstickied too multiple times, Mr. Priestly says it's not needed to sticky it because if it's really important for players, they'll keep bumping it up anyway.

A few things not covered in that FAQ:

1. EA's ridiculous Banhammer.
If you want to lose access to all of your games, just use the F-word on their boards. Hell, not even that, just quote someone who used it. There are other options too, this is just one example.
EA's PR talk already said it was an accident when it first happened a year ago, after it got media coverage. One year later it still happens, and only when the media picks it up it's another "error in the system". The result is always the same. Account ban, you can't play any of the games you bought on Origin, and the support is usually unavailable or unhelpful. So everytime that banhammer swings into your direction by accident, the fastest and easiest solution to fix the issue is simply getting the most media attention you can, other ways don't work. Which brings me to....

2. EA support.
Honestly, EA's support is about the worst thing I've ever experienced myself. Just took me a week to get my Mass Effect 1 DLC back which I lost access to due to Bioware pulling the old Bioboards down. Quick summary: Contacted US support because local support was unavailable. Chatted with EA guy. EA guy had no clue what I was talking about, assured me the current Bioware site and my account is accessable and threw me out of chat.
Phoned german support line. Waited 45 minutes in the line until I was fed up and hung up. This hotline is not free. Phoned them again two days later due to being unable to get into another chat. Waited 45 minutes again. Hung up. Finally got into US chat again after turning the "unsolved" ticket into a new issue. EA guy was more helpful but made me sign up for a new account on EA's kiddie/casual game website without any reason. Finally got my new DLC key.
This is just my personal experience with EA's support, but apparently this experience is quite average. Losing access to my Mass Effect 1 DLC btw doesn't really reassure me that all the other DLC I bought for DA or ME2 will still be accessible in 2 or three years.

I could continue, but if you compare Origin to Steam, like it has become a hobby of everyone who tries to prove what morons people are who complain about Origin, you have to take customer relation and support as much into account as possible datamining. Steam makes people sign up freely because they offer them an all-in-one solution comparable to Apple's iTunes: Sure, they have a monopoly, but they also have great deals, speak the right language and offer players some real advantages (SteamPlay, autopatches, daily deals on DLC too, etc. etc.). Many people like Steam, nobody likes Origin. That's not to say that Steam is the good guy, would never be interested in your data, and there are many games that force you to use Steam too Bethesda comes to mind. But honestly, Steam makes it much easier for customers to swallow, and there are enough who sign up without being forced.

Well, look for yourself, make your own opinion if you think I'm too biased, but I hope the shitstorm against the most useless bloatware forced on gamers recently won't cease. There's a Group on the Bioboards you can join, they have a nice little banner for your sig too. ;)

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