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Gamer Banned From Dragon Age II Over Forum Post 469

Posted by Soulskill
from the flexible-boundaries dept.
RogueyWon writes "Kotaku is reporting that a Dragon Age II gamer banned from BioWare's forums for an allegedly inflammatory post has been locked out of the (singleplayer only) game for the duration of the ban. This is a consequence of EA's backend systems, which link forum accounts to the accounts that players use to access their games. This would appear to be a worrying new development; while trolling forums has led to bans from massively multiplayer games in the past (arguably with some justification), the extension of the principle to singleplayer games, where an abusive player cannot affect the enjoyment of others, must surely be a step too far."
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Gamer Banned From Dragon Age II Over Forum Post

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  • Bad summary (Score:2, Informative)

    by devxo (1963088)
    Ah, in true slashdot spirit the summary "forgets" a few things from the story. First of all, he wasn't banned from playing the game. He bought the game from EA online store and because he was banned, the installer didn't work. And to be honest, for me that sounds more like a bug than EA trying to ban him from a single player game.
    • Re:Bad summary (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Dunbal (464142) * on Friday March 11, 2011 @09:38AM (#35452472)

      He bought the game from EA online store and because he was banned, the installer didn't work.

      Thus effectively banning him from the game. Your point? Or do you wish to continue being a pedant?

      • Re:Bad summary (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 11, 2011 @09:46AM (#35452528)

        The distinction is important because there is a difference between EA knowingly and intentionally banning the user from single-player game, and EA accidently banning the user from single-player game. If it is an accident, and EA agrees that it is wrong, and fixes it... then there is no reason to attribute malice to EA.

        • Re:Bad summary (Score:5, Interesting)

          by ShakaUVM (157947) on Friday March 11, 2011 @09:57AM (#35452644) Homepage Journal

          >>If it is an accident, and EA agrees that it is wrong, and fixes it... then there is no reason to attribute malice to EA.

          Except it does sound like working-as-intended.

          But then again, this is the same company that jumped onto the social media bandwagon, merged their accounts with EA, corrupting them in the process so that I both couldn't log on and couldn't reset the password (it would fall into an infinite loop). And did things like tying their server uptime during the demo into getting exclusive items in DA2, which promptly killed their servers and forced (well, if that's the right word) people to play the demo over and over until the damn servers stayed up long enough to get credit for it. If it dropped even once during the demo, you wouldn't get credit at the end.

          And so forth. I believe they're both incompetent *and* filled with hate and malice.

          Probably a new thing Bioware got from the EA merger.

          • And did things like tying their server uptime during the demo into getting exclusive items in DA2

            Which was incredibly cool and very creative on their part. I played the demo though a couple times with each character (probably around 10 times total) and never experienced server outages.

          • by Moryath (553296)

            In tonight's news: EA are a bunch of fucking dickheads.

            In other news: Water is wet. Ice is cold.

        • Re:Bad summary (Score:5, Insightful)

          by hairyfeet (841228) <.bassbeast1968. .at. .gmail.com.> on Friday March 11, 2011 @10:19AM (#35452900) Journal

          But if that is true AC then that means this is just yet another example of when the pirate game is the better version as yet again the badly designed DRM bites the customer in the ass. I've had to go and download the cracked version of games I bought and paid for because the DRM was such a PITA I spent more time fighting it than I did the bad guys.

          The problem is these damned games companies seem to be forgetting we are the ones that pay them and that they DO have competition in the form of piracy. If I feel mistreated and ripped off after I give you my money and your shitty DRM causes me nothing but grief, why would I not just pirate the next version and save myself some grief?

          To use the famous /. car analogy: If I have two car lots and one offers me a car for x dollars and proceeds to kick the shit out of me when I pay while the lot across the street may have cars of dubious origin but not only don't charge me, but treats me well? Wouldn't be a hard choice for most folks.

          These companies either need to go the Good Old Games approach and offer us DRM free with rewards for buying, like how GOG gives you extras like soundtracks and strategy guides, or just agree to go with Steam with NO extra DRM bullshit. Because not only is this DRM a PITA but as a repairman I can tell you SecuROM and the others Can and DO cause system instability and a host of other problems including but not limited to burnt DVD/CD drives. For example certain versions of that crap WILL happily install x86 Ring 0 DRM into a 64 bit OS and then not only screw shit up since you have an x86 driver in Win X64, but then the uninstaller doesn't work and you get the "fun" of either dual booting and cleaning it out from the other OS or a couple of hours in safe mode editing the registry and removing files.

          TL:DR? Pirate version good, legit version shit.

          • by Superken7 (893292)

            Where are my modpoints when I need them. (I agree)

          • by Sir_Sri (199544)

            Ah but you see they are working hard to eliminate the competition from piracy. I don't have DA2 yet, but notice with DA1 it logs you in every time you try and play? The infrastructure around the game is now like an MMO even if the content itself is single player. If you don't log in, you don't have access to any of the downloaded content (which fairly quickly can become problematic if you rely on any of it for gameplay).

            With ME2 EA claimed to look at piracy as get another venue to get customers to buy DL

          • I guess I get your point, which is essentially, companies need to realize that people will pirate their games and so they should not provide impetus for this behavior. However, the truth of this statement makes me sad. What about the old-fashioned option of not buying the game *and* not stealing it? Why is it necessary to play the game at all?

            I guess what gets me is that people seem to feel that they have an inherent right to play games. Thus, if they cannot afford the game or they disagree with the des

        • Re:Bad summary (Score:5, Informative)

          by stjobe (78285) on Friday March 11, 2011 @10:49AM (#35453188) Homepage

          Except that you're wrong. Follow the first link in the summary, scroll down to the last post:

          1. BioWare community bans are forum-only and can be for as little as 24 hours. These bans should have no effect on your game, only your ability to use all the features of this website/community. these bans are handed out by BioWare Moderators as the result of our travels around the forum and/or issues reported by fellow community members.

          2. EA Community bans come down from a different department and are the result of someone hitting the REPORT POST button. These bans can affect access to your game and/or DLC.

          Item 2 kinda says it all, doesn't it?

        • by Dunbal (464142) *
          You obviously did not read BioWare's official reply - to sum it up: "It's in the TOS which you violated, so tough luck". No, no malice at all.
      • Re:Bad summary (Score:4, Insightful)

        by gmueckl (950314) on Friday March 11, 2011 @09:49AM (#35452568)

        The summary does indeed make it sound as if the guy was banned from playing a game that was already installed and running, thus being banned from using something already in his possession. After all, there is a login screen in the game. There is a bit difference between being barred from downloading something and being barred from actually using it after it was purchased and installed.

        • Re:Bad summary (Score:5, Insightful)

          by dragonhunter21 (1815102) on Friday March 11, 2011 @09:59AM (#35452676) Journal

          Preventing the user from playing a game he'd bought.
          Preventing the user from installing a game he'd bought (And, by extension, preventing the user from playing a game he'd bought).

          The installation is irrelevant. The important parts are that he bought the game legally and then was not able to play it. The mechanism of denial isn't important.

          • Re:Bad summary (Score:4, Insightful)

            by twidarkling (1537077) on Friday March 11, 2011 @10:51AM (#35453222)

            Actually, it is, since the failure point comes in at a different moment. It's like having a television delivered. The actual case is akin to expecting the TV to show up today, so you clear some space to deal with that, and plan to use it that night. Then you get a call and get told "it's not showing up today." Yeah, it sucks, but it's not there, so there's not much you can do. Preventing someone from playing an already installed game is having the TV show up, and get set up, but then the delivery people stand there and slap your hand away from the remote any time you go to use it. It's there, there's no real reason you couldn't use it, except some gatekeeper's making you not.

            EA's installation manager is actually a *download* manager. It's merely delaying the delivery of digital goods due to a flaw in the backend stating that no deliveries can be made to that address when someone clicked an option to stop other kinds of activity from that address. If you can't see the functional difference in the situations, it's because you're being wilfully stubborn.

      • He bought the game from EA online store and because he was banned, the installer didn't work.

        Thus effectively banning him from the game. Your point? Or do you wish to continue being a pedant?

        If the game had already been installed, he could presumably continue playing.

        So he was not banned from playing the single player game, he was prevented from installing it.

    • Re:Bad summary (Score:5, Informative)

      by RogueyWon (735973) * on Friday March 11, 2011 @09:48AM (#35452556) Journal

      Submitter here - thought I ought to make a quick reply:

      On your first point - the effect of the ban was to prevent the user from installing (and hence playing) the game. It wasn't that they prevented the user from buying the game (which would have been stupid, but arguably less evil) but rather that money had changed hands and the user wasn't able to access the game due to the ban. Given the space limitations on story titles and summaries, this felt like a fair summing up to me.

      On the second point, I had first hoped, when I read TFA, that this was due to a backend bug. However, the response from Bioware makes it fairly clear that from their point of view, this is "working as intended".

    • Now while they maybe should look at separating forum bans from over all account bans, still this is a rather different situation than "They banned him from the game." No, they banned him from their site. Now he'd bought the game from their site, but not yet installed it. That did mean that he couldn't install the game. However that is not the same as taking away the game from him. Had he bought the game elsewhere, like Impulse, Steam, or a retail store, there would have been no effect.

      I've got to back up EA

    • by 517714 (762276)
      He is suspended and unable to play the game for a whopping 72 hours. Big fucking deal!
  • Violation of rights? What if Ford banned you from your car for inflammatory remarks? This is a product he paid for being remotely disabled... Someone needs to give the gaming industry a good dose of "Act Right". Taking away our right to resell games, horribly restrictive TOS, crap tons of DRM, now remote disabling if you annoy them...
    • The game wasn't remotely disabled. Because he bought it from EA's online store, and because the download/installation requires account authentication, he couldn't download/install it because he account was temporarily disabled... If he had already installed the game before being an asshat on the forums, he would be happily playing it right now. Sounds more like a possible bug than an evil corporation trying to strip everyone of their rights to electronic entertainment if you ask me.
    • by Candid88 (1292486) on Friday March 11, 2011 @10:00AM (#35452696)

      I think a more relevant analogy would be buying a Ford, you hurling abuse on the forecourt of the only Ford dealer in town and then that Ford dealer not allowing you on their property to pickup the car when it's ready.

      You aren't banned from the car, rather banned from the only available means of getting hold of the car.

      In both the real and analogous cases, the common sense solution would be for either a workaround or a refund. But no-one likes common sense in the land of media and blogosphere hyperbole.

      • by Joehonkie (665142)
        No, that would be a totally irrelevant analogy, because there is no physical space for him to violate, nor any risk to them that he will be able to badmouth them on their "property" simply by downloading and installing the game that they accepted his money for.
    • This is a product he paid for being remotely disabled...

      The product was not remotely disabled. The summary is misleading on that respect.

      The game had not yet been installed. Part of the installation process is a check for an active EA account (to make sure you're authorized to use the installer, and haven't just pirated it). Since his account was banned, he could not use the installer.

  • If he paid for it, then they're telling him he can't USE it, he should be entitled to demand a refund. That simple. He didn't pay for the privilege of getting banned. Does anyone know if he sought a refund?

    • charge back time

    • He paid to license the game and was bound by the terms of the agreement which I fear had a line about EA being able to take his license if he was being a giant dong in their community.

      You are not eligible for a refund when you breach the terms of the agreement.

      I am not saying that EA was right, just that they don't owe him anything.

      • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Friday March 11, 2011 @10:10AM (#35452790)

        he IS entitled to a refund.

        no good were exchanged yet money was taken.

        which part of that do you not understand?

        its just that simple. it really is.

        I have no problem with the company banning him, but I do have a problem with not returning his purchase price when they refuse to offer what he gave money for. or, do you think its more like a 'donation' and they 'opt' to give you your goods or not at their discretion?

        don't be an ass. give him his money back and then just part company.

        if the game co does not return his money, they are looking at BEING SUED themselves, for theft. yes, not kidding.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by FileNotFound (85933)

          He is not entitled to a refund.

          Events:
          1. User buys license entitling him to use software.

          2. User breaches agreement and loses license to use the software.

          The fact that he did not use the software in the time period between him purchasing the license and losing it due to the breach of it's terms is irrelevant. They cannot be sued for anything and owe him nothing. They are acting within their rights.

          Once again, I am not saying that what they are doing is not morally wrong, but it is legal.

          • sorry, you are wrong.

            in ANY country in modern civ, if you pay for a product and the vendor refuses to deliver, that's breach of contract.

            plain and simple.

            I would also think that invoking the 'fitness for purpose' law would also be effective. ie, if you bought widget X and it was advertised to do Y but it would not at all do Y, that was a misrep. on fitness of purpose and you are owed a refund.

            this guy needs to sue the company. I'd donate to it, in fact. I hate companies that get away with 'we can because

            • by dzfoo (772245)

              You do not seem to understand. The breach of that "contract" was performed by the user: the contract was not a purchase in which goods must be exchanged, but a license allowing the user to install the software so long as he or she adheres to the terms. Since the user violated the terms, he is in breach of contract, his license is revoked, and therefore he has no claim.

              As the parent poster said, it does not make it right or justifiable, just legal.

              -dZ.

            • You really don't get it do you?

              The product is the license. He was GIVEN the license. He HAD it and was entitled to use it UNTIL the breached the terms of the license and lost the license.

              He is owed nothing.

              He did not "buy a widget" he bought the RIGHT TO USE widget as long as he followed the agreement. He did NOT follow the agreement and LOST the right to use the widget.

              Welcome to software licensing 101.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 11, 2011 @10:33AM (#35453042)

            I don't believe that by paying for software that you are agreeing to the terms in service. You would first have to DOWNLOAD the software and be presented with the Terms of Service on install. As he was NOT able to download and install, he then never actually agreed to the Terms of Service and therefore should be given a refund.

            So what you are saying is that theft is legal?

          • by rtrifts (61627) on Friday March 11, 2011 @01:31PM (#35455094) Homepage

            In a consumer contract of unequal bargaining power, the stronger party to the contract cannot deny to the weaker party the whole of the benefits under the contract and then rely upon a limitation or exclusion clause in the contract to justify that breach and denial of the very benefits to the other party which goes to the root of the contract.

            In the old days, we called this a fundamental breach (Suisse Atlantique) . Now, we just call it a breach, followed by a refusal to apply the exclusion clause for reasons of unconscionability in a consumer contractual setting (Tercon Contractors v. B.C.; Hunter v. Syncrude).

            Either way, EA's conduct as described in the article appears to me to be, beyond much doubt, plainly unlawful -- and the suggestion it is "legal" because of a provision in a EULA that they could never rely upon in court is wholly misguided.

            This is an academic discussion unless and until somebody was to sue EA over a matter like this, but to excuse the conduct of a bully by suggesting it is "legal" is both morally -- and legally -- wrong.

            End result: a software company cannot fundamentally breach a contract and then rely upon the terms of the EULA to get them off the hook and avoid a claim for rescission of the contract. The law doesn't work that way. Not for huge transportation companies with a global reach, not for monstrously large insurers upon which all modern commerce depends, and not for a comparatively small, "chump change", consumer products corporation like EA, either.

      • by xMrFishx (1956084)
        EULAs are not legal and binding. Agreements can contain all sorts of drivel so clicking that agree button does not entitle EA to your soul, even if they write it in the document. Sorry.
        • Well the court would have to settle that wouldn't they?

          He has every right to take EA to small claims court over the $60 game. I wish him the best.

  • All of this crap was really writing on the wall the moment we started down the "$FOO is licensed, not sold" road. The rest is just technical implementation details of the measures needed to keep the remote systems, and their users, in line.
  • Wow (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    From TFA:

    2. EA Community bans come down from a different department and are the result of someone hitting the REPORT POST button. These bans can affect access to your game and/or DLC.

    Damn, all I have to do to ruin someone's day is report their posts? Harsh.

    As will be parrotted and echoed a dozen times, they really should divorce the game from community connectivity when doing these punishments and not deprive you what you paid for.

    • by Seumas (6865)

      If you are a game reviewer and you displease the publisher or developer today, you can pay the price, tomorrow. You'll be cut off from demos, early reviews, meetings, press events and other access to their people or games.

      Now, we can finally extend that to the consumers. Too critical of our company, developers, DLC practices, or product? Oops, sorry! Enjoy your next year without access to your "owned" content.

      • Yes - if you do it on their private forums. You can post that EA sucks and that Bioware sold out all you want, just not on their site.

        It's kinda like walking into someone's living room and taking a shit, you can't expect them to like it.

        I've never been surprised to see "official" forums delete criticism posts. Official forums are there to help sell the game. Nothing more.

        You want to bitch and moan about EA, do it here or on some game forum. Not on EA's forums with an EA owned account.

  • If you're going to accuse a corporation of selling their souls to another corporation and imply that they are the devil... for god's sake don't do it on their own forum!
    • by Dalzhim (1588707)

      Why not? It is customer feedback after all. It is basically saying: I like your company, but I dislike that other company. Please do not do business with them. :(

  • I would say this story takes the biscuit for most misleading summary ever, but then again there are just so many misleading summaries on Slashdot these days.

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Friday March 11, 2011 @09:53AM (#35452600) Homepage

    And bad things happened to him?

    Well, good. Dicks need a solid pounding from time to time, to remind them that throwing down has consequences online as well as in meatspace.

    If he's got a problem with it, he can sue them, which will just prove how much of a dick he really is.

    • by jidar (83795)

      You should be able to express your opinion "That EA sold their souls to the devil" without losing access to the games you bought. A forum ban I could see, but this? Come on.

      • It DOES take a little nerve to insult EA, and then request EA to give you a game to download, please. Id hate for this to be policy, but perhaps the kid will learn a valuable lesson here.

    • Well, good. Dicks need a solid pounding from time to time, to remind them that throwing down has consequences online as well as in meatspace.

      Being a dick says a lot about your character, but other than alienating yourself from people who don't want to be around dicks, it really should carry no consequences whatsoever. Hell, I think your comment is quite dickish, but I don't think you should be banned from posting to slashdot because of it, much less banned from using all the other Geeknet sites, like sourceforge. However, such a drastic move would be analogous to what happened to this particular guy.

  • Well... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gandhi_2 (1108023) on Friday March 11, 2011 @10:00AM (#35452688) Homepage

    ..In a world where it is ok for a restaurant to refuse to serve any TSA agents and your employer can fire you for burning a koran on your own time, why *can't* a game company revoke service from a troll?

    I think all three are really shitty, but chances are most people only disagree with 1 or 2 of the above and those are the people who make it all possible.

    • which restaurant is that? I'd like to patronize them!

    • There is a huge difference between all 3 (assuming your post is accurate, citation would be nice).

      1) Refusing service has always been an option. The only things we have said you cant refuse service for is age, race, and disability.
      2) This is a disgusting practice which is legal in some states. I agree it is absurd
      3) The difference here is he PAID for the product in question. This is a SINGLE PLAYER GAME, not a service.

    • Refusal of service is one thing, however it is generally required to refuse service, to do it before collecting the money. I mean if this were a physical store, someone walks in and asks to buy a game after ticking off the manager, the manager can send him out of the store immidiately that is perfectly find, or the resteraunt can kick the TSA agents out of the resteraunt that is perfectly legal. However in this case it's like the resteraunt seated the TSA, took their order, took their money and then kicked
    • I see no reason why being able to refuse to serve customers is a bad thing.

  • Thanks for posting this story. This issue doesn't affect me, as I don't use EA forums, but it is still something that I find completely unacceptable. I've bought (yes, with money) every RPG Bioware ever released for the PC (and I think I also have a copy of Shattered Steel), but combined with the emphasis on DLC (which requires logging in) in recent titles, this means I will not be buying (or pirating) DA2.

    (Apologies for all the parentheses. I'm in the middle of On Lisp [paulgraham.com].)

    • by nschubach (922175)

      Your indentation is all wrong though! ;)

      (Actually, I never liked the commonly accepted Lisp indentation. I like closing in the same column on a new line as the open, not at the end of indented code.
            (with the exception of single line/short commands)
      )

  • by Greyfox (87712)
    Turns out there are consequences to your speech. More so when you're using something you don't own. Arguably you don't really own anything. If the right person decides they want your stuff, they'll just take it. Technology is just increasing the pool of people who can.
  • ...never thought I'd see someone suffer actual consequences for being a jerk on the internet. Maybe a sign of changing times?

  • by Paspanique (1704404) on Friday March 11, 2011 @10:22AM (#35452918)

    I was also banned from my steam account because paypal choose a transaction I've made with Valve to check my identity. Their system was faulty and after confirmation(Phone calls to land line and CC verification), It took several phone calls & more than a week of back & forth to get everything in order.

    Mean while, I lost access to all the games under my Steam account because Paypal stopped 1 payment & I had this account for 4 years. I had almost 20 games in my Library & couldn't play them until paypal released my money. Sure, I understand they wanted to be paid, but having total control over 20 of my games is really frightful.

    It took me almost 2 years before I bought another steam games & honestly, if I can avoid using this kind of system, I will. I rather have a boxed DVD than letting someone have total control over something I paid for... I mean it's not like I don't know how to get the games for free...but I don't pirate because I feel it's wrong, and this is how they thank you... Anyhow

  • Reminder (Score:4, Insightful)

    by UninformedCoward (1738488) on Friday March 11, 2011 @10:28AM (#35452988)

    Dear Bioware,

    Thank you for reminding me of your DLC centric business model. You have again shown that a pirated version of your software is superior than that of the product offered in your online store. I hope you enjoy alienating your paying customers.

    Sincerely,
    UC

"Out of register space (ugh)" -- vi

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