Permanently Unplugged

Tom explores the ramifications of Electronic Arts' removal of online support for certain games.

by

Electronic Arts has control issues.

Consumers have been at war with publishers the last few years. Through online passes, downloadable content, preorder bonuses, and other such nonsense, we've become accustomed to the nickel-and-diming it takes to play the latest games. But once we go through all the hoops, we should be able to play what we purchased for as long as we want. Yesterday, Electronic Arts announced that it is once again depriving us of this most basic element of the publisher/consumer relationship. We have no guarantee that our purchases will be backed up down the road, and I find that downright sickening.

Guess which fighter represents EA and which consumers.

More than a dozen EA games are going to have their online plug pulled. The list includes Burnout Revenge, Create, and other games that have a strong online component. The specific games that were cut is not the point, though. It's a problem no matter which games lose their online functionality. Money is the bottom line, and Electronic Arts doesn't believe it's worth investing resources into smaller user bases. Not only is the matter of community size completely irrelevant to people who want to play the games they purchased, but it's a problem that Electronic Arts brought on itself.

Microsoft runs the servers for the vast majority of Xbox 360 games. Publishers pay a fee for this privilege, and then Microsoft ensures that the online components function appropriately. But Electronic Arts doesn't want to relinquish control to another company--you have to log in to EA's servers to enjoy online festivities. Although this is an annoyance, the situation is still acceptable. EA wants to have direct control over its products and has assumed the financial obligation that this entails. In fact, if you read the user agreement that comes with every game, you can see that EA is legally allowed to cut online service. However, this isn't an issue about rights; it's about responsibilities. And when push comes to shove, EA has walked away from its duties.

We have no guarantee that our purchases will be backed up down the road, and I find that downright sickening.
In a statement released yesterday, Electronic Arts explained that the affected games make up less than 1 percent of its active user base. That sounds like a small number, but then you have to consider that there are millions of copies of EA-published games out there. That 1 percent could represent a sizable number of players. But even if just a handful of individuals want to team up in the downloadable adventure Spare Parts (released just 14 months ago), shouldn't they have that option? If online play is a part of the package, stripping it away dilutes the experience.

Just as troubling, one of the affected games requires an online pass to experience multiplayer. EA Sports MMA (released 17 months ago) required an extra fee (if you bought it used) to get the whole game. And now its online portion is being cut. What happens to the people who shelled out $10? One of the reasons it was possible for players to accept the idea of an online pass in the first place is that the fee presumably went toward server costs. Well, that theory has certainly been debunked. Why would anyone willfully shell out extra money to go online when that ability could be yanked at a moment's notice?

There's a chance that you, like me, don't often go online with your games. However, don't think that you're exempt from this practice just because you'd rather dive into a single-player adventure. The Saboteur (a darn good World War II espionage game) has had some of its content cut. Granted, The Midnight Club (The Saboteur's online content) was mostly the source of cheap titillation, but that's beside the point. If you paid for that game, you should have access to every element of it. Electronic Arts has ensured that such a basic principle should not be assumed anymore.

You can share your imagination in Create. Or at least you could before.

The question remains: How far is EA willing to go? You might scoff at this article now because you have yet to be impacted. Maybe you play Battlefield 3 every weekend with your friends. Considering the popularity of that military game, you have no worry of online being removed today. But how long will that last? As sequels trickle out and the user base dwindles, there's less incentive for Electronic Arts to continue support. When a few thousand steadfast players continue playing Battlefield 3 instead of moving on to newer entries in the series, EA could pull the plug on your fun. We have no idea when it will decide to remove online capabilities, and we have little recourse when it happens.

Ultimately, the only power we have is the money in our wallets. Electronic Arts is directly responsible for one of my favorite franchises (Mass Effect) and has published incredible and decidedly niche games that many publishers wouldn't have taken a risk on in the first place (Alice: Madness Returns and Shadows of the Damned). I love certain things that EA does. But seeing its arrogant disregard for its fan base gives me pause. It's hard to support a company that doesn't support you.

Discussion

295 comments
Mewi
Mewi

EA's Online is horrific... Hell it took me to harass one of their employees to get them to even check if the server was down.... Mewi: Hi your mirror's edge servers are down. They have been for months and many have complained. EA Staff: Have you tried resetting your connection, correcting your time and date, blibbidy blabbidy blub blub. Mewi: My problem isn't with my xbox or connection, the servers are down... EA Staff: You never know. 30 minutes later, I get so annoyed and say "Rather than making me go through pointless hoops, you could at least check the servers BEFORE you do it." Them "Okay checking.............. the servers are down and will be back up momentarily."

lordhadez77
lordhadez77

i agree completly qith yu. i think ea is in the wrong. like what are they going to close down next???? medal of honor ,bfbc 1 & 2 ????? this is wrong.

dalua360
dalua360

@jmc88888 I got your point, but you missed the whole conversation with other users I had, that's why you misinterpreted me. I'm with you on this, but I was more disagreeing than agreeing with lance_7 before. I was trying to show people that the NWO is even here, but no one cares.

sonicare
sonicare

Good points. In the end we have a lot of power as the consumer, but it's hard to organize that power into something meaningful. Raising awareness does help, though.

nomailx
nomailx

@JakeSalter 1 billion $ in 16 days and you say "if they only charged \$20 they would have made a third of that" ? what can I say? Your father must be rockefeller or something. Why don't you break your pink piggy bank and send those poor guys the 10 billions $ you amassed in 2 month, as charity?

thedeadmorrison
thedeadmorrison

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

jivemaster
jivemaster

Just because a publisher prints something on the back of the case, doesn't mean they can legally do it. To say EA can legally close down the servers is an incorrect statement. They reserve the right to, but even that doesn't mean they can. Some of these games are still sold new - to purchase them only to find the online is gone would be infuriating. Not everyone reads game news. Yes EA has a message saying to check their website for closures of online services, but no-one would or should be expected to check online prior to purchase. The worst thing is that some people may have paid for an online pass. Someone could have bought one yesterday. How pissed would you be that you just threw away $10 for nothing. It's no so much the money as it is the principle. EA should have never been allowed to run their own servers. They're the only publisher that does, and it's all because MS wanted to get them onto their system, when prior to this arrangement, EA refused to bring their sports titles to the platform. Who are buying EA's games anyway? I don't know anyone who does, except for Mass Effect players.

jmc88888
jmc88888

Undoubtedly they used some asinine incorrect statistical model to figure out that whatever they lost by screwing over their customers was less than the (small) cost of maintaining these games. Yep, just like so many decisions, now based on an incorrect statistical model that has never in the history of statistical model, told anybody anything accurately. Statistical models are ALWAYS wrong. NEVER BEEN RIGHT. NEVER WILL BE RIGHT. These idiotic nothings make decisions far more often than you think, AND worse, the idiots that make them the largest reasoning, make lots of money letting a nothing make a decision for them. Yeah, I don't understand where EA's problem is, or why there is a disconnect with the average person. /sarcasm It's not the first time they've cancelled games after a year or three. But under two months in this case for one of the games is downright ludicrous. Now one can legitimately say that there is a chance if you buy an EA game that they will take away any online support (gaming, dlc, whatever) within two months of launch date. Don't you love the pitfalls of monetarism operating within the Greatest Depression ever? (we're still in the proto stage people...not even fit to describe it as the beginning)

jmc88888
jmc88888

@dalua360 Piracy has nothing to do with this. Most of these games are on consoles, not PC. Also, if you need a unique key to play online, pirates have never had those. So online portion in of itself, isn't being dragged down by pirates playing alongside legitimate buyers online. ...and even if you were right, which you aren't, they still wouldn't stop screwing over their customer. It's a wall street corporation, thus they just take more and more, never give back, EVER. They have to pay back the debt funding (at insanely low interest rates thanks to the asinine ZIRP policy of the bankster federal reserve that promotes and backs nothing but fraud at the direct expense of the physical economy)

lance_7
lance_7

@dalua360 Yeah, it is a bit utopic bit here's hoping. But when publishers can focus on simply providing the best customer service and content instead of trying to defend themselves against the customer we all win. How much money is wasted with them trying to find ways around being cheated, whether it is piracy or not profitting off games due to the used game market? But there is no putting that toothpaste back in the tube now until they really do go completely digital and then God help us all, because who knows what can of worms that will open up? Will we then see what bignick217 is talking about on PC, where we have to go through signing into EA or Ubisoft everytime we try to access our content... So I see it from all sides. There just has to be common ground somewhere in the middle.

dalua360
dalua360

@lance_7 I agree with you, I worked at IBM for 3 years before my military career and I know how minimum expenses can transform into a snowball effect. And I really would like to cut all the old to help focus on extreme state of the art stuff every two years let's say. But this seems a little too utopic considering the diversity of people around the globe, it would be difficult to please everyone. I really got your point, the problem is how would we convince all the people to forget their favorite 2006 game for example? For now, I think we should find a different solution that helps us all, and maybe, like you said, fighting the piracy is the way to go, because publishers won't stop protecting themselves until there's no more piracy around.

timmy0001
timmy0001

EA should publicly announce a policy regarding when online support will be removed. Such as "When fewer than # unique players sign-in to play a game in a one month time period, online support will be removed after 90 days if traffic does not increase to the required level." That way people know going in that once the game they're buying is no longer very popular they will lose some of the functionality.

Apathetic_Prick
Apathetic_Prick

@bignick217: Your points are absolutely valid. While I'm not aware of EA's shenanigans regarding how they may abuse Origin (gd cs'ers, recycling the name of the most innovative divisions of game design for THAT), I wouldn't doubt that, given the chance, they'd abuse it. The point of reference that I was referring to was PSN and XBL, because, ultimately, MS and Sony have the final say, and they should be exercising it. @groundzero91: In this case, EA is the console makers' pariah. I'm not saying they aren't douchebags, because they are. However, Microsoft and Sony relented in allowing EA to run their own servers, this is unquestionable. But, they aren't mandating that if someone runs their own servers, that these servers need to be up and running for the duration of the console's lifetime, which is the problem. It would curb the issue right quick because EA doesn't have any ownership over the PSN or XBL branding or networking, so how that would work isn't entirely up to them. I agree that insofar as PC gaming goes, gamers should be able to run, at the least, their own dedicated servers for games. For many reasons, including the fact that we're not too keen on the manufacturer of the game recording our system vitals. And there's no reason why it can't be done on consoles. But one thing at a time ;) In any event, at the least, console users have someone that could back them, but those people do not. Huge ethics issue.

bignick217
bignick217

@lance_7 I can agree with that, but it seems like the companies are the ones getting all the rights. The part about Mario made me laugh a little though. I still play the original Mario games. Although I don't play them on the console. I play them via NES and SNES emulators I have on my PC. As I do with my old PSX and PS2 games. I do agree that comparing PC's to consoles is hard. But I do believe a lot of the principles are the same. I don't think companies should get a away with the kinds of tactics they are employing that always favor the company and leave many customers high and dry. I really do think companies should be required to take more responsibility in several areas. I think consoles shouldn't be as restricted as they are. Not because consoles are incapable, but because the console makers won't allow it. I think console gamers should get more freedom to do many of the things PC gamers enjoy. And I think PC gamers shouldn't have to jump through the hoops they have to just to enjoy their games. Things we don't like that get forced on PC gamers will eventually end up on consoles. And things like this that end up on consoles will eventually end up on PC. Gamers shouldn't have to put up with this at all. Regardless of platform. Yeah I agree there needs to be a middle ground, but companies like EA, Ubisoft and Activision make it harder and harder every year to see the silver lining.

lance_7
lance_7

@bignick217 I hear you nick. PC is a totally different animal to be honest. Its like comparing cars to planes, the standards and the status quo is completely different. You have guys on PC still playing the original DOOM. Whereas if you find a guy that was playing Mario 25 years ago still breaking out the old Nintendo you found a rare breed of console consumer. Really the industry needs to find a middle ground with PC gamers because piracy and hacking has changed the landscape and it seems that there is a combative relationship there with companies trying to find the right mix between servicing a consumer and protecting their property.

lance_7
lance_7

@groundzero91 I agree with you on that. They need to start to set a hard fast rule that they will support the game x amount of time after release and after that time they have the right to shut down servers at any time. That would be a more fair way of doing business.

groundzero91
groundzero91

@Apathetic_Prick Sorry if I missed it from an earlier comment, but EA is the fall guy for whom? My interpretation is that you're calling MS and Sony the pariah providers (or any other providers like Steam. I'm not sure how much sense that makes. EA has the ability to pay a fee to those companies to have them host their games. I'm not sure how the fee structure works (whether they pay based on the number of games on the platform, the traffic of their games, etc.), but EA wanted to control the online access to their games, so they opted to pay to build their own servers and host their own games.

groundzero91
groundzero91

@lance_7 Excellent point; however, the problem I have with the terms is that they don’t define the circumstances for the shut down. They can do it at any time. If they were to define, say, 12 months of guaranteed server support after which time they could then shut down the servers at their own will, I would buy that. This way, if someone purchases a game 2 years after release expecting to spend a lot of time on the multiplayer side of the game and the servers are shut down the next day, they knowingly took that risk when purchasing the product. However, the way the terms are currently written, if a game flops and someone buys the game 2 months after release (at which point EA decides they’re going to shut down the servers) and it’s still selling at retail price or close to, that person now loses what I see as access to the full product that they paid full price for and are expecting to be able to experience when they made the purchase. I’m not arguing that someone should be able to buy a game 5 years after release and expect the full product and full support (a, they won’t be paying anywhere close to full price for it anyway and b, most technology life cycles aren’t nearly that long), but I am arguing the amount of control that this takes away from the consumer and leaves in the hands of the company. There is a sense of uncertainty as to what the consumer is going to get out of the product when they leave terms open ended like this.

bignick217
bignick217

@lance_7 @Apathetic_Prick @dalua360 (This will be a multipost) As I mentioned in 2 of my posts. I don't have a problem with EA cut and running. Believe me, I understand the whole budget issue. I also understand that eventually they will have to cut their losses and pull out of a project. What I have a problem with is EA taking the extraordinary measures to take full control of multiplayer out of the hands of platforms and consumers and force people to use EA's servers. And then cut and run leaving people with non-functional products. What would happen if they did this to a game who's primary emphasis was on multiplayer. --> Continued Below

bignick217
bignick217

Look at EA's latest Medal of Honor. That game has a single player campaign that's so short and unfulfilling it could be considered a travesty. But that's not where the games strength lies. It lies in it's multiplayer feature. That game was completely designed around multiplayer and had a single player campaign tacked on. So what would happen if they killed the MOH servers? You would have a game you essentially couldn't play because the primary feature of that game would be dead. Look at the other current games taking this route like COD, Battlefield 3 and Command and Conquer 4. You can't set up LAN games on some of these games their releasing now. You can't set up dedicated servers for them. You must use EA's servers or whatever other publishers servers. Ubisoft for example, where you must be connected to their server just to play single player. If you lose connection for any reason, you get kicked out of the game. Yes, I am primarily a PC gamer. And these are the things I have to consider. Yes, I think EA should be contractually obligated to keep servers up for a reasonable amount of time. Yes I understand that at some point they will have to cut their losses and shut servers down. But no, I don't think they should be able to cut and run leaving customers with a broken product as a result. You paid for the game. You paid for the online feature. Regardless of EA's end decision, they should leave you with a working product. --> Continued Below

bignick217
bignick217

Like I said before, I still play games that I've had for nearly 20 years. I still play some of them online. The reason I can still play those games online is because even though the publisher run servers went down, I can still set up my own games. Host my own servers and still enjoy them because those games at least had a LAN option. Yes I know this guy is specifically talking about the XBox360, but this can and will just as easily happen on PC if not put in check. EA has already done it on the PC version of Mass Effect 3. Ubisoft already forces people to always stay connected to their servers to play their games at all. Even on single player games. What happens when their servers go down. Well we've already seen the result multiple times. The answer is nobody gets to play at all. Even on a single player game. Does that seem right to you. What about game activation? Look at the original Bioshock. You have to activate that game just to install it. So what happens if the authentication server gets shut down? You can't even install the game, let alone play it. And you've bought the game. --> Continued Below

bignick217
bignick217

And now you have the online passes. Look at MMA. Now look at the guy/gal who just got that game just this christmas as a present and they like playing online. And lets just say for the purposes of this discussion that the person who bought this gift for him/her bought it used. And lets say this guy/gal paid for the online pass on christmas morning. It's now the middle of march. That means he/she has paid for online access and has now only gotten 2 and half months of use of online play and now EA are going to kill it out of the blue and this guy/gal doesn't get any say in the matter? Nor is EA gonna give him/her anything to make sure he/she has another way to play online, because EA made sure there was no way for customers to do this themselves. Does that seem right to you? Sure the writers example is for the Xbox360. But it is already happening to the PC with several of peoples favorite games. And no, EA is not the only culprit. But it doesn't make my argument any less valid. And yes I do agree with you when it comes to a reasonable length of service. Yes I agree about the budget issue and the steps businesses have to take. But no, I don't think that's the end all, be all of it. So lance_7, do you still think I'm just complaining to complain. Or have I made myself perfectly clear this time.

lance_7
lance_7

@Apathetic_Prick It is good to see there are people on here (you and dalua, and ground, along with a few others) that can actually have an detailed discussion about issues. This is the kind of gaming community we need so we can actually go back and forth intelligently and not necessarily agree on everything but get to understand the other person's point of view without resorting to simple name calling or blasting a company. Good talking with you guys.

Apathetic_Prick
Apathetic_Prick

@lance_7: You hit the nail on the head. The comments here by the haters - as opposed to the ones maintaining the debate - prove it. I count maybe 4 or 5 people here that are at least arguing from an intelligent angle. Everyone else is going "EA sucks". Yeah, EA is a bunch of money-grubbing douchebags, but they're also the fall guys. Here in Canada, there was a media baron by the name of Conrad Black. I don't like the guy at all. Anyway, he helped put together some sort of scam, and he took the fall for it. Thing is, he wasn't the mastermind, just the scapegoat. In the case here, that falls on EA, too. They're just the scapegoat who've been made into a pariah by the other providers who deliberately gave them enough rope to hang themselves with. Yes, EA is douchey, yes, EA is greedy, but EA is not the source of the problem here. lance_7 is making a lot of important points, and a lot of you guys are not reading between the lines. The whole point is that the doors that the pitch-forkin' mobs should be heading to are not the publishers'; it's the providers who let them do these things and don't make an effort to curb their more ruthless nature. It's them that need the guillotine, not EA. Yeah, we want just, yeah, we want fairness. But we're never going to get it if we go after the patsy on the bottom and pretend everything is happy-happy joy-joy above.

Xiosis
Xiosis

I was just thinking about buy Battlefield 3. What do I have left, a year to enjoy the hole game?

lance_7
lance_7

@Apathetic_Prick I went back and read the post you referred to, and I agree 100%. It isn't like the consoles are agreeing to keep these games going for free. These companies are out to make a profit from all ends. They sell us their games, make money off the games of anyone who sells one on their system, then they charge the companies to have online functionality on their system (at least in Microsoft's case). They should be the ones to regulate this sort of thing, but they won't because in the end Microsoft won't be blamed. EA will get the backlash.

lance_7
lance_7

@groundzero91 and @dalua360 I get what you are saying about your mattress, but I wonder how long they would give you that warranty for if it cost them $.05 a day to make sure you had that mattress warranty... That is the difference here. If you went out and bought a 5 year old game tomorrow and the disc didn't work they'd replace that disc for you with no issue, it cost them nothing really to do that, but to have a cost, no matter how insignificant it may seem, attached to something then companies are going to start deciding what things should money be spent on. cont. below

lance_7
lance_7

I've worked in sizable companies that people would think have an unlimited amount of funds, and they are talking about the most insignificant amounts of money on the grand scale because all those cost people look at as being nothing end up in a column on a spreadsheet and it is huge when all totaled out. There is a bottom to the account. We have to decide which things we prefer companies spend money on. As a gamer I'd prefer money be spent on developing the best new games with AAA budgets that I can get 2 years of use or so out of or even somewhere between 40-100 hours. If that budget is being wasted to support servers for games that no one is playing then who is really benefiting from that. There isn't unlimited server space or assets or resources. What do we lose in one place to gain in another. There are a ton of companies that would still be in business today if they had learned to trim the fat. If you buy a game five years late then you get what you pay for and understand that you lose something by being late to the party. Even if the server was running they can't promise you that people will be online to play with you, which is part of the problem with the games targeted to shut down, they don't have a high demand for online function.

Apathetic_Prick
Apathetic_Prick

@lance_7: To a certain extent, I agree with you, but anyone who has paid to play will not. It's bad business to penalise those that do. Bear in mind, again, that those using XBL have to pay to play ANYTHIN. So, when we can't, we get pretty pissed because our no longer has bang. You and I are looking at this from a similar point of view, I think. I don't blame EA because they're a company looking out for the bottom line and will do anything that they can get away with insofar as their agreements with MS, Sony, Nintendo and any other online service provider (and in the case of the PC, it's there's. Yikes!!). If they are in the right doing something unethical, insofar as the providers are concerned, then for them, they're right, no harm done. BUt if they were contractually obligated by the providers to keep the servers up for the lifetime of the system, this wouldn't happen. So who's really the bad guy here? This is merely a symptom of corporate behaviour. And as you will probably agree, not the problem. I don't know if you saw my previous post on this subject or not, I think it's on the second-oldest page. It might interest you if you haven't read it.

dalua360
dalua360

@lance_7 In terms of strategic marketing and business management, you're completely right, and we all know that we can't have support for certain products forever, but forever is a lot different than only 5 years for example. Last week I bought a new mattress that has 20 years warranty, so, it means the company will support me for at least 20 yrs right? That's commitment. But put all of this aside, and let's focus on what I'm really concerned, which has nothing to do with video games, and it's completely related to what our friend below mentioned @bignick217, this all has to do with the undiscriminating act of governments and companies that are above the law or at least without morals and common sense regarding the collective benefit. If we let minor things to happen little by little, one day, somehow you will be impacted by something, because in the past( now I mean ) no one took any reactive attitude. Of course they are protected by law now, but unlike the case of my mattress, they didn't designate a minimum time support, and therefore, we must fight on equal terms, it should be required bureaucratically a predetermined minimum time of support, so the companies would have to demonstrate commitment to customers opting to purchase their products until the warranty ends, this would guarantee that each customer gets the same privileges. continues below...

dalua360
dalua360

@lance_7 Continuing... If you bought a game on day one release you won't feel bad(if you're not a super fan) after some years if they shut down the support, but what about the guy that just bought the game? He paid money too, and he has the same Terms of Service as you, so, if we can't fight the companies just with complaints and suggestions, we should get Legal and bureaucratical, it's the only way to not be run over by these heartless giants. And about what you said [quote] "They stated it is games that really aren't being played (i.e. less than 1% of the active user base) " [quote], I'm one of those 1% for a lot of older games like Operation Flashpoint, Red Faction Guerrilla, Rainbow Six, etc... Another thing is, imagine what is 1% of all EA's floating capital? Those 1% players surely contributed to those numbers. And what's the reference when we say 1%? One percent of ten millions of players is 100 thousand players for example!

groundzero91
groundzero91

@lance_7 Frankly, I'm really just playing devil's advocate here, as I don't have any connection to any of these titles that are being shut down, but it's more about what can of worms is being opened here. Honestly, I understand that people are agreeing to those terms when they purchase the product, but does that mean that the terms of that agreement make sense? I'm not one of the people that rants and raves, as this is probably the first comment I've posted on anything in about 6 months. I can't imagine the cost of outsourcing is at all significant in the EA budget, so why not move the servers to an outside firm and pay a nominal fee to have them maintained there? It's clearly a control issue, as I can't imagine it's cheaper to build and maintain their servers (taking into account cost of parts, salaries, etc.) than it is to pay a monthly fee to a third party. The point is that rather than try to create a solution and maintain customer loyalty, they are simply cutting them off from service. Nothing against them, I'm simply questioning EA's business practices.

lance_7
lance_7

@groundzero91 None of those items are entertainment products, but I’ll go with you down that road. You pay for a game, MOST games have a single player component and a multiplayer component. When you sign up to play that multiplayer component they inform you that it can be terminated at any time. That is something you click the little button to accept, that most people don’t take the time to read. There is a thing called reasonable service. Having online functionality for life is not reasonable because it cost money to maintain and at a certain point there is no profit in even making a game with an online element if you are expected to pay to have the server up for life. There is a middle ground here however. All you gamers that are up in arms about these titles being shutdown, get together and petition EA to do what the WoWs of the world have done for years, and create a pay to play model that allows you to get together and pay to keep that server running. If there is a large enough demand they will be happy to take your money and you can play to your heart’s content. The fact is there isn’t demand for these games which is why they are shutting down the servers to begin with. People expect them to keep servers on for games that really aren’t even being played online just for the hell of it. It is easy for people to complain about because it isn’t their money, but I doubt any of them would want to put up money to keep the servers on.

groundzero91
groundzero91

@lance_7 "You buy a car, a TV, a console; there is a limited warranty on that item. I can't think of any other entertainment item that is purchased where the consumer expects lifetime developer support, but for some reason this is different." The difference between your statement and what EA is doing is that when support for that car, that TV, or that console (even other software) ends, you don't lose functionality. When the manufacturer's warranty on your car ends, you don't lose your airbags. When the warranty on the TV ends, you don't lose the capability of adjusting the settings. When Microsoft ends support of an old version of Office, you still have access to the full functionality of the product. EA shutting down server support on these titles is taking away functionality of the product from the end user. That's the real problem with all of this. Go ahead and stop patching the software or offering support for the software, but you don't take away the users ability to use all of the product to the full extent that they originally paid for.

lance_7
lance_7

@Apathetic_Prick I agree with you. I stated in an earlier post that I disagree with a publisher shutting down online service in less than 24 months. My discussion was with people who feel that these services should be ongoing and never be shut down. I think it is illogical. We may all have different opinions on how long a product should be supported and I see most people’s view is different than mine, but to think it should be supported forever isn’t reasonable in my mind. I get that different products have limited lifetime warranties, but my point was how many entertainment products have lifetime support. Not to mention support that comes at no cost to the consumer such as an annual fee for continued service. Also, I didn’t see anything that got shut off in less than a year, and even less that had many people still playing. Unless I missed something the earliest I remember reading was 17 months (which I think is a bit shady because like I said, less than 24 months), and they stated these titles are less than 1% of their active user base.

Apathetic_Prick
Apathetic_Prick

@lance_7: RAM often carries a life-time warranty, as do many consumer products. The lifetime warranty ends when that product is no longer on the market. Software is different than hardware, however. It is implied that after release, software will be supported for its lifetime. Unfortunately, this is an abstract matter, as the lifetime of a program is whatever the developer feels, and how it is supported and when that support is ended is treated in an arbitrary manner, which, btw, is bad for the consumer. So far, at least, most companies have been ethical about it. But after less than a year with many people still playing? Not to mention the online passes? That's inethical. That's why people are up in arms. It's not a matter of a political issue. In fact, it would be a business one.

JakeSalter
JakeSalter

@nomailx Yeah they made a bunch of money, because they charged $60 for it...if they only charged $20 they would have made a third of that...and not all the money grossed is profit...they have to pay the distributors, manufacturers, pay for advertising, pay their workers, after all that the company still needs to make money...so yeah. And it was $5 per copy sold, not total...obviously...

Ishiban
Ishiban

Just when EA was starting to redeem itself somewhat they do something like this. Consumers need to create a backlash and boycott their products until they reconsider this move.

Dark_Arcitekt
Dark_Arcitekt

Massive applaud here Tom.Well thought out and executed.I am also very happy to see others speaking out on this issue.Not even a "Hey.We'll transfer your online passes to another game of your choosing." or a "Giving out free DLC for those that paid the ten dollars for passes." That would seem like more of a caring about the fan base they have.Our money obviously never went to anything to do with running the servers,keeping them updated,or anything of the likes. Consumers got robbed plain and simple.They never said "The online pass will work for 17 months."I know their TOS says they can cut at anytime but damn.Seems like a fast cut considering the games aren't even 5-10 years old.

Phil-teh-Pirate
Phil-teh-Pirate

I can understand some games being removed, but it is essentially removing functionality from an end product.

Warlord_Irochi
Warlord_Irochi

A note in the article: "seeing its arrogant disregard for its fan base gives me pause." Not only pause; It pisses me off. Soon they will have no fanbase at all... they really seem to have ZERO consideration for them. I worked at EA for 2 years, but you don't need that to see how sadly true that is.

Yulaw2000
Yulaw2000

Good article. EA just doesn't seem to understand customer service.

lance_7
lance_7

@bignick217 I’m not missing the point I simply disagree. You seemed to miss this part of the article: “Microsoft runs the servers for the vast majority of Xbox 360 games. Publishers pay a fee for this privilege, and then Microsoft ensures that the online components function appropriately.” The servers are going to get paid for one way or another, you do it or you pay to have it done for you. EA chose to do it themselves, which I still don’t have an issue with. And let me clarify, I’m basically talking about console games which was what this article seems to be referring to with the mention of Microsoft running the online servers. PC is something different all together. Tom kind of glossed over the issue of paying Microsoft to host the servers. He didn’t say if this was a onetime fee (which I doubt it is), a monthly fee, or an annual fee; nor did he say how much that fee cost exactly. To me, that fee changes everything. If it is a small onetime fee then EA should be letting Microsoft handle it, but the fact that EA is spending the money they do to run things themselves I’d be willing to wager they consider what they are doing to be more cost effective than paying to have it done for them. Why else would you take on the financial burden? Continued below…

lance_7
lance_7

As far as your comment about this being no different than a political issue… We have a difference in opinion on what is your right and what is your privilege. I think there should be a standard for reasonable service. You buy a car, a TV, a console; there is a limited warranty on that item. I can’t think of any other entertainment item that is purchased where the consumer expects lifetime developer support, but for some reason this is different.

nomailx
nomailx

@JakeSalter 5$ for the company? lol. "Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Sold $1 Billion In 16 Days" do the math.

Warlord_Irochi
Warlord_Irochi

@Gelugon_baat Heh! and it's not like they didn't try with the "Games for Windows" stuff ;) Thankfully that didn't worked for them, It could mean a lot of trouble for PC developing studios...

bignick217
bignick217

@lance_7 And again you miss the whole point of this argument. We don't have a problem that EA finds the prospect of keeping unfulfilled servers running economically unviable from a business standpoint. It's that EA took steps to prevent anyone from privately hosting their own servers for games and forcing people to use their servers, and then taking it away without leaving any way for people to keep multiplayer going on their own. If you read my first double post you would know that. I'll make it easier.. I'll quote it. "The problem is EA took the extra steps to take control of the online component out of the hands of the platforms and out of the control players to make it only usable through themselves. There now is no LAN option for people to host games themselves. You now have to access an EA controlled server to set up any game of any kind. And now, because they think it's no longer viable business wise, they're shutting them down and there is now no way for anybody to keep the multiplayer alive. Not by you. Not by me. Not by any one of the still possible dedicated players. That means any of these games that could remain popular cult classics are now officially dead online. That's the problem. This is also the problem many us complained could be a real possibility several years ago when they started online activation for games. What happens when they decide to no longer support online activation for a game you've purchased. What happens to your DLC that requires repeated online authentication to play with your offline single player game. Think about it. It's the exact same principle. Now look at the list of games their tanking now again. A couple of the games their killing are just a little over a year or 2 old now. I still play games I bought back in the mid to early 90's. Stop looking narrowly at people complaining and start looking at the bigger picture. You might be surprised at what you find. Think about it. Because right now, you're missing the whole point. As far as I'm concerned, I bought the game, I paid for the multiplayer feature, who are EA to tell me all of a sudden, that I can no longer use it simply because they're no longer interested in keeping it going when they had every opportunity to prevent this very issue from happening in the first place. They want to turn away and stop support, that's fine. But leaving me with a broken product as a result of it is not acceptable. At the very least release one final patch enabling LAN hosting functionality. I don't think customers are asking too much by demanding that of EA." I also find it disturbing to find out that you find a distinction between voicing out against this and a political issue. There isn't a distinction. The issues are different, but the principles are the same. It has nothing to with complaining to complain. It has everything to do with voicing our outrage at this in an attempt to prevent it from happening to us. You shouldn't just sit back and say nothing simply because it doesn't directly affect you. It's because of that very line of thinking that has resulted in EA's business tactics. Ubisoft's horrible DRM. 2K's 3 time max install limit. Because people like you who know it's screwed up (as you've openly admitted), but because it didn't directly affect you at the time, DIDN'T SAY A WORD!

lance_7
lance_7

@bignick217 As I thought, complaining to complain. The point is that these are servers that are sucking up money for no reason because there aren't enough people playing to justify keeping them running. This isn't some stand against discrimination or some political issue. This is about freaking game servers and a company trying to make a profit.

bignick217
bignick217

@lance_7 "First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a communist; Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a socialist; Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a trade unionist; Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Jew; Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak out for me." - Pastor Martin Niemoller (WWII talking about the Nazi's) It has nothing to do with it "directly" affecting me right now at this moment. It has everything to do with it very well being able to affect me if I don't speak out against it if I don't say anything at all. Just because it doesn't affect me right now, at this moment, doesn't mean that it never will. The fact that this issue doesn't affect me right now, doesn't make the issue any less important and should be taken seriously. Your argument of "it's not affecting us personally right now at this moment so it doesn't matter" doesn't hold water.

blackwing55
blackwing55

I noticed that this sucks the only game this happened to me though was battle for middle earth two which sucked for 1. The com sucks so theirs no point in facing them. 2. I was acheivment hunting I still need to win games and finally i actually like RTS facing real people. Cutting out online service does bother me.