Electronic Arts says it is working on "more equitable" rules but in the meantime it appears that a ban from its forums could still leave you locked out of your Origin games.
Back in March, you may recall, a sharp-tongued BioWare Social Network user earned a 72 hour ban from the service for lipping off, specifically by asking if the studio had "sold your souls to the EA devil?" It doesn't seem like anything to get overly worked up over, but that's life on the forums and wouldn't have been a big deal except that it also left him unable to activate the copy of Dragon Age 2 he'd purchased from the EA Store.
A BioWare community rep initially confirmed the situation, stating that an EA Community ban can affect access to games and DLC alike and further suggesting that people "consider it an added incentive to follow the rules," but BioWare Community Coordinator Chris Priestly later weighed in and said that the ban should have been restricted to the forums. "There was an error in the system that accidentally suspended a user's entire account," he explained. "Immediately upon learning of the glitch, EA restored the user's macro account and apologized for the inconvenience."
The discrepancy between the original response and Priestly's was never explained, but mistakes happen, all appeared well and that was that. Except that according to Rock, Paper, Shotgun, that wasn't it. The site reported earlier this week that it has received a number of reports from people who have been banned from EA forums for one reason or another and then found that they could no longer access Battlefield 3 or any other games tied to their EA accounts. Making things worse is the fact that many of the bans seem to have been given arbitrarily - one user reported being banned for linking to a site that offers advice on network troubleshooting that EA itself has previously linked to, while another was given a 72-hour ban that was later upgraded to a lifetime because he said "e-peen" in a post. So what's going on?
EA's response to RPS wasn't terribly informative. "With every game and service EA offers, we take the satisfaction of our customers very seriously. We discourage cheating and strive to maintain a high level of integrity in both our games and our forums. Therefore when someone violates our Terms of Service, we are forced to take actions that can include suspensions and other measures. We do not take those decisions lightly - however the integrity of our services and the satisfaction of our customers requires a clear set of rules," John Reseburg from EA Corporate Communications told the site.
"We have listened to our customers and are planning a policy update which will include more equitable rules on suspensions - we want to make sure the time fits the crime," he continued. "As with all technology updates, these changes take some time to implement. Meanwhile, we urge any user with a question about suspensions or our policies to please contact us at (866) 543-5435 so we can address their specific situation."
It's worth noting that nowhere in there did Reseburg say anything about forum bans and game bans being separate things. Despite what was said in March, in other words, nobody really knows - or at the very least, nobody is saying - whether a ban from the forums does or does not mean being cut off from your games as well. It's quite possible that EA's policy as it currently stands means that a forum ban is a lot more than just a forum ban; and given the capriciousness with which they're apparently being handed out, EA forum users might want to think about keeping a sock in it until this mess is cleared up once and for all.