Three For Three: Battlefield 4 Fail Launch. DRM'd!

Subject: General Tech | October 29, 2013 - 06:48 PM |
Tagged: ea, DRM, battlefield 4

((Update: October 30 @ 7:04pm: The issue was not resolved by EA before the EU release date. However, as expected, the game unlocked at 7:01pm. While I wish I could have reported that the issue was resolved ahead of time, it wasn't, and now (since EA did not demonstrate any concrete effort in resolving the issue) I cannot tell whether we will experience the same issue next time. It is possible this issue could plague several releases to come. Keep this in mind.))

I just do not have any luck with pre-ordering titles on Origin. Battlefield 3 had a rough launch, especially on my computer, with it being almost a year until they sorted through the mouse lag hiccups (seemingly related to having Google Chrome running) and random crashes. My second title was SimCity, which requires no further explanation, and my latest is Battlefield 4. Now, it seems as though the actual game launched decently for the majority of customers. They try really hard; they really, really do.

The problem? Origin will not unlock it until October 30th at 7PM EDT for myself and many others.

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Supposedly this also affected the Beta and other Origin titles.

Unfortunately, I was at Mozilla Summit. I cannot comment on that. No experience.

Somewhere in Origin there is a mistake with region-locking and certain ISPs. My primary ISP (Teksavvy cCable... not a typo) does not qualify, for some reason, as a North American release region. October 30th at 7PM EDT corresponds to October 31st at midnight CET so the game likely believes my connection belongs to the European Union. AT&T U-Verse and Vidéotron were also reported as having this problem.

I used my (in repair) Bell Canada DSL connection and was able to access the Battlefield 4 campaign (the connection is too unstable for multiplayer until it gets fixed). I, then, tried to access it again with Teksavvy? Nope. Relocked.

I contacted EA Support (I never identified myself as a journalist) who were honest and blunt about the issue. I respect that! Congratulations, EA, for having technical support open at 2 AM and treated me with respect. The company also started a thread in EA Answers asking for more information about affected customers. Still, currently, the issue has not been resolved.

But even that is irrelevant to the actual point because this is obviously an honest mistake. Still:

The DRM is making me not want to pre-order (or purchase at all) another title on Origin!

And... the kick while down... it has not helped anyone!

Region-locking does not make sense, especially not anymore, within a worldwide digital distribution network. I can connect by a VPN to anywhere in the world to pretend that I belong there. I legally purchased the title. There is no financial reason to make me wait to access it; in fact, especially with their recent refund policy, it might encourage me to cancel my order or outright ignore the product's existence in the first place.

EA has been expending tonnes of time and resources making Origin more desirable where it counts. They seem to actually care about their distribution platform's success. The have seemingly around-the-clock live tech support and a great refund policty. Yet, time and time again, these little mistakes where it doesn't even count add up to the terrible user experience. Yes, I could refund my title; I do not get the game I want and EA loses a sale. Great job, DRM!

EA, what has this accomplished except support costs, bad press, and anger legitimate customers?

October 29, 2013 | 08:13 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

If this is your third time having an issue with Origin, and yet you still purchase games from the service, wouldn't it make sense for EA to assume that you're willing to deal with the inconvenience?

I'm sure they're losing some customers, but it seems like they're are plenty more people who are willing to continue trying their luck with EA even if they are perpetually frustrated.

I would assume that such a large company can look at sales figures and make an informed decision about how much anti-DRM sentiment is affecting their bottom-line.

October 29, 2013 | 08:28 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Yep, that is a fair thought and the correct way of looking at the problem assuming, of course, that projections also consider the offset from region-locking (which I cannot see any benefits, especially not in this situation). Technically though, this is my third time having an issue with Origin. I may not purchase another game from the service. I am not vindictive so I will not decide that ahead-of-time (I have not cancelled my "pre-order" though, that is a data point).

But yes, I can say for certain, I will be even more leery the next time (if there is one).

October 29, 2013 | 09:52 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

First off, I meant "there are plenty", not "they're are plenty". =)

I also apologize for counting BF4 as one of the times they've failed you prior to your purchase of BF4. Preorder straddles that line though.

I'm trying to think of any reason they would have to region lock the release, and the only thing I can come up with is that the servers for other regions aren't quite ready and they don't want the high ping of EU players on NA servers to mar anyone's first impressions of the multiplayer.

It's hard for me to get too upset about a company trying to make things difficult for pirates. Most of the time, it seems like they're just causing more problems for their legitimate customers, but when you see stories like '96% of Volgarr the Viking players didn't pay for the game', it makes you wonder how many sales you lose by making the good will gesture of releasing a game DRM free. Maybe for every legitimate customer you lose, you gain a sale from a pirate that's tired of trying to find working copies online.

I'm more put off by how EA handles problems when they arise. I've never purchased a game off Origin and I feel that's justified. I have purchased many games on Steam.

October 29, 2013 | 10:14 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

A lot of it is to align with dates for retail vendors. New movies and videogames in the US and Canada launch on Tuesdays, Fridays in UK. Nintendo launches on Sundays mostly because (from my understanding) they control their own vendors. Twilight movies launch on Saturdays for some weird reason (I used to work at a video store).

Nintendo also have begun releasing digitally first (Wind Waker HD was famously available for online sale two weeks ahead of retail).

So yes, I realize what I'm saying is not entirely "cut and dry" but it serves as a good wakeup of tradition for tradition's sake. Japan getting it over a week late is beyond me, though.

October 29, 2013 | 08:19 PM - Posted by MONKEYpatch (not verified)

would you like some cheese with that whine?

October 29, 2013 | 08:20 PM - Posted by Simon (not verified)

Any problems related to DRM are entirely of their own making and I have zero sympathy for EA. I have so far managed to maintain a ban on anything Origin touching my PC, even though it means I've missed out on some tempting titles.

A quick search indicates that Battlefield ​4 and subsequent updates are available on Bit Torrent sites (23GB! How many discs did this thing come on?!?). I haven't tried downloading it, but I'm guessing the Pirates aren't worried about DRM issues?

October 29, 2013 | 08:32 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

They never are, and that is somewhat the point. Even I could use a VPN or something (my half-broken DSL connection?) to access the content I should be legally allowed to access. I doubt this has done anything but hurt EA in reputation and maybe even refunds.

October 29, 2013 | 10:05 PM - Posted by CriticalAlpha

I am proud to say I have never supported EA's Origin and never will. I continue to play BFBC2 and would consider purchasing BF3 if it comes to Steam as a complete package. With so many other games to play it is safe to say we have options.

EA should stick to what it does best, and leave digital distribution to the few companies who specialize in it.

October 30, 2013 | 08:17 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

This is the problem, you really think your making a difference? nope, even if everyone that considered this did it still wouldnt be enough to get them to change, thats the sad truth, you wont make a difference and your the only one being punished for it. I didnt have any issues with Origin sides preferring steam I still played BF4 at midnight with no EA issues. Enjoy missing out more and more as this unavoidable trend continues to grow.

October 29, 2013 | 10:29 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

don't buy drm games if you dont want DRM. fin. you're a moron if you can't figure that basic principle out.

October 29, 2013 | 10:32 PM - Posted by Insanatrix

I don't think that deciding not to purchase another product from a company that has given you issue's is exactly vindictive. It might be prejudiced, and honestly for good reason maybe, but it's far from vindictive.

I have to agree though with the first commenter though, If they continually let you down maybe you should try to do something about it, I.E. not patronizing their products, rather than perpetuate it. I don't consider video games a necessity even though I'm a very avid gamer, so I don't see a reason to "have" to have something, So I find little to justify needing to support something you obviously feel strongly enough about to write an article criticizing.

October 29, 2013 | 11:11 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

I see this more like our stance on "Frame Rating". It is our job to make sure our readers are properly informed about what we know especially if, in our site's case, it might inform their purchases. Apart from this, it seems like Battlefield 4 had a very decent launch. This is a problem, though. It has apparently been a recurring problem (allegedly the beta and other games). Finally, it is something I think they should do better in the future.

October 29, 2013 | 10:56 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Give 'em hell Scott. At least you have a higher platform than the rest of us to stand on.

Now you must stick to your principles - demand your refund and refuse to ever play an Origin game again

and ofc post your cancellation notice.

October 29, 2013 | 11:23 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Nah. I know I could have gotten a refund (still can for a couple of hours).

But, truthfully, this will be in the back of my mind the next time I consider buying an Origin game. As I have said in a previous article, what EA needs for their service is consistent trust. They need to make sure little problems, like these ones, do not tint their customer's view. Their main competitor is Steam and customer trust is something Valve has done extremely well for a significant amount of time.

As for Battlefield 4, itself... I was honestly not too excited about it (I have not been on a Battlefield team for years). It was somewhat of a last minute purchase (I bought it early Monday afternoon).

October 30, 2013 | 12:43 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I guess I was kindof hoping you would give up on Origin after 3 tries and keep reviewing other non-DRM games - there are plenty out here to choose from.

and we could probably do without another BF4 review - I'm sure it will be covered well enough.

October 29, 2013 | 11:18 PM - Posted by Sublym3 (not verified)

Seems like an over reaction to me, welcome to the rest of world experience of having to wait while America enjoys playing the games.

Or like the rest of the world you could connect to a VPN for 2 seconds and unlock the game and enjoy multiplayer like the rest of the world.

October 29, 2013 | 11:27 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

It relocks. I have a second (broken) internet connection that worked long enough to log in to Origin. I was able to launch the game and I played a bit of the campaign (multiplayer would have been a bad time). Then, I switched back to Teksavvy cCable... "Available October 30th at 7PM".

The point is to keep pushing EA for a better product. And yes, I agree, region-locking at all is BS.

October 29, 2013 | 11:35 PM - Posted by Sublym3 (not verified)

If you keep Origin open, it should remain unlocked

October 30, 2013 | 12:20 AM - Posted by snook

sorry to hear this scott. minimum of 30 friends and I got on our server when the lock came off without issue at midnight.

look us up @ BF4platoons.com I would love to game with you.

origin is my friend as long as Battlefield is a game. :0

October 30, 2013 | 01:58 AM - Posted by Anonymousteksavvy (not verified)

I had the same problem with the same ISP.
I have a work around that worked for me. I use my
Iphone as my modem (rogers) to unlock played campaign for awhile
Alt tab out and changed my network back to telsavvy.

It worked for me.

October 30, 2013 | 12:40 PM - Posted by The Common Cold (not verified)

Did you report the problem to your ISP, as well as to EA? Informing them both is a good idea.

October 30, 2013 | 02:46 AM - Posted by D1RTYD1Z619

Exactly why I didn't buy it. Bf3 was broken and so will bf4 be. They burned me once and that'll be their only time

October 30, 2013 | 04:35 AM - Posted by Panta

bf4 is the first game i bought from origin
thinking i could play at the 29th, but no 31 it is.

PS
Dear Scott it's about time!

an article by you i CAN read
learn something, and not feel like reading e-mature stuff..

WAIT, its a compliment! (to)
hope all articles by you will be with this new style of writing.

Bravo.

October 30, 2013 | 03:31 PM - Posted by (verified) (not verified)

Is this a poem?

October 30, 2013 | 07:00 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

To be honest, I really don't know what to do about origin... I have BF3 and racked up 100s of hours of sniper head shotting knifing fun.

However. EA really really wicked me off with Simcity. So much so, I moaned to paypal and got my money back!
I can also still get into the game! play it for all of 5 seconds, want to stab myself with a spoon and quit.

I do want to buy and play BF4, I quite enjoyed the beta but I really don't want to deal with Origin or EA.

It's even got the point now when I get annoyed just because I click on the x to close origin and then have to also exit from the taskbar!

October 30, 2013 | 10:44 AM - Posted by CriticalAlpha

Like I stated earlier there are hundreds of good games out there to play. Go play them, and be happy. If EA wants to sell to a small subgroup of PC gamers let them. Other major publishers wanting to make more money will go to Steam and other dedicated distributors. I am not Pro Steam, rather I am anti-suck.

As Scott stated, there is a trend and they are building a poor legacy. I do not want to be a part of mediocrity. If they want to win me over they have to do it better then the others consistently.

If Origin starts making miracles happen I would consider joining. Until then I am happy supporting everyone that makes it easy for me to buy their games.

I am not alone, and I am not punishing myself.

October 30, 2013 | 10:48 AM - Posted by CriticalAlpha

Maybe, after they are done expanding BF3 it will come to steam, like Crysis 2. If that were to happen I'd be curious to watch what I could imagine being a re-launch of the title.

October 30, 2013 | 11:52 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

For the love of *insert your deity of choice* EA, just go with a unified world wide release date and stop all this fooling around which just annoys your legitimate customers who are paying for the product.

The refund thing is nice, but TBH this should be a standard policy. The fact they are wrapping it up as something extraordinary annoys me. That should be their standard policy for all their digital products.

October 30, 2013 | 12:13 PM - Posted by The Common Cold (not verified)

First off, pre-ordering is a bad idea anyway. It's impossible to know how good a game is until it has been out and a large pool of users has tested it; if you don't want to have problems with a game, don't put money on one before the general public points out potential problems.

Now, my main question: is this just bitching or are there real problems with Origin? I have seen a TON of negativity revolving around Origin online, but it all seems like petty whining. I personally have had a very smooth experience with it so far. In fact, it generally runs better than Steam does. Not only does Steam crash more frequently, it also takes much longer to log in and is just slower in general. My friends report having a very similar experience, with Origin being just as good a game client as Steam (or better). Is it just hated on because it is EA? (That's a rhetorical question. I know it is, and I think it's incredibly childish.)

I dunno. I am well aware of how bias can cloud vision, especially my own, and I am trying not to let my distaste for the die-hard EA haters and blind Valve supporters misguide me. I have not posted in the past because I didn't want to just come across as blindly returning fire for a product I don't actually use more than I have to. I just feel that Origin gets only negative press when it also has positive points. When you look objectively at things like layout and general performance, it's not bad. It's above average. It's perfectly usable, and a lot of people don't seem to realize that.

October 30, 2013 | 12:18 PM - Posted by D1RTYD1Z619

You must be new to computer gaming. We'll let you slide this time.

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