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

Subject: General Tech | October 29, 2013 - 03:48 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 30, 2013 | 09:25 AM - Posted by The Common Cold (not verified)

Actually, I think I am just lucky. I have been using Origin since before it was called Origin (remember EA Download Manager? Yeah, THAT was awful).

I suppose I am relatively new, as my first custom build was only three years ago, but I have been playing games since the DOS era. Make of that what you will.

Thanks for letting me slide regardless.

October 30, 2013 | 09:41 AM - Posted by CriticalAlpha

Listen all I am saying is where there is smoke there is fire. As an interface Origin may be clean and fast. I have tried it and it wasn't anything great. Add painful DRM (see story above and others) and a poorly written EULA and it's sunk.

Mediocrity should not be the goal. We are gamers, they should understand the term 1up. If the only value they have to add is a straggle hold on their own titles they can keep them.

We want to love EA, but they don't want to love us back. Maybe that is why there is so much negativity.

October 30, 2013 | 09:56 AM - Posted by The Common Cold (not verified)

True, it isn't anything great. It isn't atrocious either though. As far as the DRM goes... that is a given. Steam, Uplay, and Origin all have unpleasant DRM, and all of them have left me unable to play at least one game because of a hiccup somewhere down the line.

I haven't carefully read the EULA, honestly, I just skimmed it. It seemed pretty standard to me at the time. I'll have to go read it more thoroughly. EULA's are awful though; you don't own anything you buy these days.

I strongly agree that mediocrity should not be the goal. I want them to excel. I want developers and publishers to excel too. I do not, however, feel that hating on something will accomplish much. There is a huge difference between constructive criticism and just being a hater. Remember when EA asked users how Origin could be improved? The response was nothing short of disgraceful.

I know what you are saying. EA is far more performance/earnings driven than consumer goodwill, and that's a shame. However, virtually every publisher is. Most of them just hide it better.

October 30, 2013 | 10:34 AM - Posted by CriticalAlpha

Please understand I am not hating on EA. I am simply not supporting what I don't believe in. To that point I have no interest in making it better.

You make a good point regarding performance and earnings. That stated Steam is a privately owned company and are not beholden to their share holders as there are none. That is why they can offer deep discounts and separate themselves in ways few can at this point.

You are right and every EULA is very similar, but the devil is in the details. I have not read any updated version but know the original (when I used it) was horrible.

It takes a lot to implement change. If EA wants to innovate they need to create something that cannot be compared to anything anyone else has. Only then will they capture individuals nested 250 titles deep and unwilling to fragment an easily accessible library.

October 30, 2013 | 10:58 AM - Posted by The Common Cold (not verified)

I see that, and I like your stance of not supporting something you do not support. That just makes sense.
It is the prevailing attitude around Origin that irks me, and I was hoping I could get a few words in edgewise. I hope I didn't come across as too defensive.

Ah yes, privately owned. That alone puts Steam in a very positive light; I definitely admire Valve as a company.

Honestly, it takes so much time to scour a EULA that I don't exactly feel inclined to make much more of a point about it. My issues with EULA's tend to be related more to ownership of material and licensing then privacy (as privacy is little more than a facade by now), and the majority the naysaying I heard was in regard to the privacy policy. To each his own.

Again, I think you are right. I am torn between wishing they did and hoping they never try... the fragmentation you mentioned is not exactly an ideal situation.

Do you have any insight into why Origin gets much more flak then Uplay? In my experience, Uplay is a whole lot worse in nearly every way. Is it just because Ubisoft doesn't make as much noise about it?

November 1, 2013 | 10:52 AM - Posted by mLocke

Innovation doesn't look good a investment portfolio. EA only cares about flying fighter jets over their headquarters and laying people off.

October 30, 2013 | 11:54 AM - Posted by CriticalAlpha

Regarding the EULA the major issue I had (at the beginning) was an opening to allow EA to delete inactive accounts after a period of time. At this point I am an active PC gamer, but there was a time when I took a three or four year break from Steam. How would you feel if after a few busy years where gaming didn't make sense you find your account has been deleted.

I do believe that point has since been loosely addressed in a press release. That was my introduction to the service and I do not believe the EULA has been changed accordingly. (anyone is free to jump in here)

It is my opinion that Uplay doesn't get as much attention because they don't have much that people want to play on a PC (that you cant get anywhere else). Again EA's only value is EA exclusivity. It makes sense for Microsoft and Sony to have exclusivity on their consoles, because they built the hardware. EA did not build this hardware. I apologize for the digression.

When I look at what I play where it is as follows:

If I want tight controls (FPS, flight and driving sims) I use the keyboard and mouse or the appropriate controller on the PC.

If its third person view with a small amount of aim assist, my couch is more comfortable and I'm going to use a console. These services (origin and uplay) are far less of an issue on PSN and Live as they are less of a distribution platform.

Lastly, to circle back a bit I think EA gets more attention because PC games want to like them.

Example: man killed in accident on the news, you think horrible (Ubisoft). Your brother killed in accident, you cry (EA). I think PC games might be a bit more passionate about EA.

October 30, 2013 | 12:48 PM - Posted by The Common Cold (not verified)

That would definitely piss me off. Funny, I don't think I have heard of that opening before. Thanks for pointing it out. That might actually be serious enough for me to read the EULA again.

So what you are saying is that EA has better PC ports than Ubi, as well as games that are more enjoyable on PC than on console, thus people make more noise about the things they don't like about EA? I can see that being the case. I agree that that would give them more attention; I do not agree that PC gamers want to like EA though. If that were the case, I feel we would be seeing much more logical comments on the subject, more constructive criticism and less vitriolic bashing. PCper readers aren't so bad, but I cannot count how many times I have seen comments all over the web wherein people claim that they refuse to buy a game simply because EA published it. I thought it was a passing fad, like hating on Call of Duty, but it isn't really getting any better.

Your example using deaths almost works, but not quite. Maybe I just don't understand where you are coming from; are you saying that Ubi's fall from grace was felt less because they were never as close to PC gamers as EA was?
I agree that PC gamers are more passionate about EA than Ubisoft; people talk about what they are passionate about whether it is good or bad.

In the end, the reason I started commenting was because I felt like Origin was only getting negative treatment, whereas I have had an acceptable experience with it, and I think it has positive aspects. In fact, the only real problems I have had were with Battlelog in BF3 (all the Battlelog client updates, PunkBuster updates, and constant crashing and disconnects). I was pleasantly surprised the other day when I downloaded some non-Origin titles through Origin and found that I didn't need to have the service running to play them. I was further impressed when I found out that I could play non-Origin games that I added to the library without the service running, as my previous experience with Steam was that my game was tied to Steam the moment I added it. For those two reasons alone, I actually prefer Origin for downloading games that don't require clientside software. They do not, however, have those oh-so-tempting sales that Steam offers.

Wow... when I start typing I don't know how to stop. I appreciate the discussion we had/are having; it is making me think. I always like that.

October 30, 2013 | 03:12 PM - Posted by CriticalAlpha

I don't necessarily think EA is porting better to PC. I believe their games, at this time, better compliment the keyboard and mouse. I am sure Ubisoft has a multiplayer first person shooter, but is it as well known as COD or the BF series? Liking EA is almost secondary and maybe that was a half baked personal thought when I typed it. I think it is fair to say EA is the current publisher for many developers who make the titles PC gamers love and/or think they'd love (BF, Crysis, Sims, Deadspace). That was off the top of my head and what do we have, three first person shooter and one point and click.

As far as constructive criticism is concerned I don't think that is realistic to expect. The internet for most is a two sentence emotion response forum. In short the first five minutes of a fight you have with your wife or girlfriend. The difference is there is no connection to anyone, so there is no commitment to follow up or follow through.

Regarding the analogy yes, I believe PC gamers although they care about Ubisoft titles, there is a larger group who enjoy EA releases. To be clear I am a huge EA fan and have been since I put my first copy of Road Rash into the Sega Genesis. That stated I will not support them with origin due to the reasons we had discussed. I appreciate the feedback as well.

Take care

October 31, 2013 | 07:24 AM - Posted by The Common Cold (not verified)

Thanks for clarifying that, that makes more sense to me now.

Deep down, I know you are right. I just wish you weren't. I would like to think that people recognize and respect the other people online, as well as their opinions.

Let's hope they address their issues and keep on making great games, then. See you around, C.Alpha.

October 31, 2013 | 05:12 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

uplay has it much worse imo, its even more niche, and you your username is not changable when you play online, so if your like me and signed up for it years and years ago with your email which became ur online username and is now using your realname it sucks

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