A BioWare fan received a nasty surprise when he learned that his suspension from its forums means he can't install his newly-purchased copy of Dragon Age 2.
The BioWare Social Network user known as "v_ware" received notification yesterday that he'd been suspended from the service for 72 hours. He claims the reason is that he asked, presumably in a forum post, if BioWare had "sold your souls to the EA devil?" It's a pretty thin reason to suspend someone, although we have nothing but his word to go on in that regard, but he acknowledges his transgression and appears willing to accept the punishment.
His more serious problem is that his forum suspension means he can't activate and play the shiny new Dragon Age 2 Signature Edition he purchased from the EA Store. "I already knew I was going play it without the extra content since I can't activate my extra codes," he wrote with an alternate account. "What I did not know was that I needed to activate the game before being able to play it. So now I've got a dead game for 50 euros."
The whole thing had the appearance of an "oops" on BioWare's part until community rep Stanley Woo weighed in. He explained that while BioWare community bans are "forum only," EA community bans are a different beast and can affect access to games and DLC, even when the games in question, like Dragon Age 2, are single-player.
"Because the BioWare community now operates under the same umbrella as all EA Communities, community members here have all explicitly agreed to abide by and be governed by both sets of rules," he wrote. "Consider it an added incentive to follow the rules you say you're going to follow."
As Kotaku pointed out, the situation isn't something that's likely to happen very often because v_ware bought it online from the EA Store and hadn't installed it prior to the suspension. But it did happen; by BioWare's own admission, a customer is being refused access to a game he dropped 60 bucks on because he said something he shouldn't have on a forum. And if it happened once, it can happen again, more or less at EA's discretion. Calling that an "incentive to follow the rules" is one way of looking at it, I suppose, but I'm inclined to frame it in somewhat less polite terms.
UPDATE: BioWare Community Coordinator Chris Priestly issued a statement on the situation indicating that the whole thing was a mistake.
"EA strictly enforces the code of conduct at Social.BioWare.com. If a player violates the rules by using profanity, they will be temporarily banned," he wrote. "Unfortunately, there was an error in the system that accidentally suspended a user's entire account. Immediately upon learning of the glitch, EA restored the user's macro account and apologized for the inconvenience."
It's not clear how this jibes with Stanley Woo's explanation that the loss of game access was a valid part of the suspension, except possibly that some forum transgressions do warrant it but v_ware's in particular did not. Whatever the reason, he's apparently back in action and in this case, at least, all is well.
Thanks to Knight Templar for the tip.