News: Shafting the Customers

Why would you buy your games through EA?
EA is the worst company in America.

EA Blocks the Entire Country of Burma from Accessing Their Origin Libraries

Not even joking. This week Burmese citizens awoke to discover that they could no longer access their EA Origin libraries after the worst company in America (TM) moved to observe US trade embargoes by stripping their customers of all their legally purchased games, with no recourse to a refund. Origin’s terms of service make it clear that the company views the games it sells as licensed services rather than purchased products, and so they feel entitled to completely shut customers out of their game libraries without warning or compensation for reasons as arbitrary as international trade relations. What makes this situation particularly farcical is the fact that US president Barack Obama effectively ended trade sanctions against Burma on October 7th, meaning that an entire country was erroneously denied access to their purchased games catalogue.

The short answer here is that this occurred due to the US government trade embargo on Myanmar. In accordance with US law, EA is legally required to restrict online services to residents of countries that are embargoed. This isn’t an EA-specific issue — it’s an issue that impacts all companies offering services that are covered by trade embargoes. As the OP has noted, the embargo on Myanmar appear to have been lifted earlier this month. Accordingly, EA is internally reviewing the situation and looking into whether and when service can be restored to Myanmar residents.It’s unclear to me whether we can do anything for residents of other countries that are still similarly embargoed, but I’ll bring the topic up for discussion internally.

EA appear to be working to correct their mistake, though it bares mentioning that Burma is not the only country to be subject to US trade embargoes. EA has also presumably blocked access to citizens of Cuba, Iran, Best Korea, Sudan, Syria, and the Crimean region of the Ukraine – with an Iranian Reddit user by the name of Ayymd_ later confirming that he had lost access to his entire library of Origin games:

Me and many other Iranian gamers are now unable to access what we have paid for and are banned.

Reason being U.S sanctions against Iran? what? Those have been lifted and that’s completly bs, Why do other services like Steam, Uplay and Battle.net allow us Iranians to play their games and use their clients then?

They basically told us “Nope, you can’t play your games that you bought from us anymore, bye..”

EA has no respect for their customers and this is really unacceptable.

As a company EA is absolutely entitled to pick and choose which countries they do business with, yet it is absolutely reprehensible for them to operate within certain countries only to later change their minds on a whim, and take away the game library that they sold to citizens of that country. It is not as though other digital storefronts have suddenly pulled out of these countries in line with US foreign policy. Despite EA’s protestations to the contrary, this is still very much a uniquely EA problem at the time of writing. Ultimately though, this should come as a wake up call to anybody who buys games digitally irrespective of which storefront they purchase games through, as any of these companies can take our games away at a moment’s notice for any reason they might like to entertain – EA just happens to be the worst of these companies at present.

The very worst way to play your game.
Microsoft is not a company worth supporting.

Windows 10 Users Prevented from Gaming with Other PC Owners

As a somewhat uncommon platform from which to purchase PC games, the inner workings of the Windows 10 Store have remained as something of an unknown quantity. The platform has seen a fair amount of use by PC owners in its capacity as the only purveyor of Microsoft exclusive software, but this exclusive software tells us very little about how the Windows 10 Store interacts with the broader gaming landscape. That all changed this week with the release of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Modern Warfare Remastered, which are third party products large enough to warrant their own Windows 10 Store release – and what they are able to tell us about Microsoft’s digital platform is actually quite hilarious.

Infinite Warfare and Modern Warfare Remastered owners who bought their copies of the game from the Windows 10 Store will only be able to play the game’s multiplayer with other people who bought the game through the Windows 10 Store, as has been confirmed by Activision support:

No, you can only play these titles with other users of Windows 10 on Windows Store.

In all fairness to Microsoft it sounds as though it is technically possible for Windows 10 Store games to be played with the users of other PC storefronts, but that making the different versions compatible was a tad too onerous for Activision on this occasion. That is to say that it is likely a bit of a pain to get the Universal Windows Platform API functioning correctly with the more typical Win32 applications. Microsoft has gone on to clarify:

We support cross-play between devices and platforms for partners who want to enable it.

Then again, Microsoft are not a company that should necessarily be taken at their word, and there could very well be significant regulatory hurdles for third parties wishing to implement cross-play. Regardless, whether gamers are prevented from playing together due to Microsoft policy, or whether gamers are prevented from playing together because of incompatibilities between the software itself, the result is largely the same. Microsoft has established a digital platform where its users are isolated from the broader PC gaming market. On the one hand it means that the online community for Infinite Warfare will not be as robust as it otherwise might have been, while on the other hand it means that for any game significantly smaller than a Call of Duty the Windows 10 Store version may struggle to attract a viable online scene from the outset. It is difficult to see why anybody would choose the Windows 10 Store as a viable platform for their gaming library.

Street Fighter V's sales have gone off a cliff.
Street Fighter V’s rough launch may have killed the franchise.

Street Fighter V Sales are Dead in the Water

In normal circumstances a game only gets to release once. There is only ever one release day, and initial perceptions will colour the way it is perceived going forward. Even if a game manages to patch out its faults post launch there are very few mechanisms through which a studio can bring this fact to the attention of the casual gaming market. An excellent example of this has been the release of Street Fighter V. Street Fighter V was released in an unfinished state with very little in the way of single player content. Capcom did this in order to have the game out in time for competitive fighting tourneys, and thus appeal to that demographic. Capcom were very successful in appealing to this crowd, but managed to completely turn off more casual players in the process. Street Fighter V received mediocre critical reviews upon release, along with absolutely abysmal user reviews – and it is still these kind of impressions that people are going to come across when researching Street Fighter V online. Street Fighter V fizzled out of the gates, and the rest of the world has largely moved on and forgotten about it.

Street Fighter V‘s status as a failure was cemented this week during Capcom’s most recent financial report, where it was revealed that the game has sold 1.4 million copies across both the PS4 and the PC. This is the same figure that Capcom gave for the game at the start of April, meaning that the game has sold fewer than 100,000 units in the last six months. Before the game’s release Capcom had predicted that the game would sell two million units, which is probably a figure that Capcom felt they were low-balling at the time. Now there is no possible way that Capcom will hit two million units, and this figure would probably even be out of their reach if they were to somehow be able to release an Xbone version. In their arrogance Capcom thought they could neglect more casual players of the game, which got Street Fighter V off to the very worst possible start, and gave the title the slight stench of failure. From there Capcom’s extremely aggressive DLC/Season Pass agenda for the game served to make it seem even less accessible to anybody who had not yet bought into the project. Before the game had even released Capcom were busy dreaming up all the wonderful ways that they could leverage Street Fighter V for profit, yet this mindset has ultimately led to it being a less profitable venture. This is a situation of Capcom’s making – they deserve this.

3 comments

  1. EA is the worst company in America.
    Sounds like they might also be the worst company in Burma. Glad they’re branching out.

    The platform has seen a fair amount of use by PC owners in its capacity as the only purveyor of Microsoft exclusive software
    This is what happens when PC Gamers stop being intelligent defenders of their rights and become corporate shills, too.

    the game has sold fewer than 100,000 units in the last six months.
    FATALITY!

    Oh wait, wrong game.

  2. I’ll bet that MKX has sold more than 100k in the last six months…

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