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DRM Games

Feedback On Simcity Gets User Banned From EA Forums 386

An anonymous reader writes "EA's latest SimCity game requires users to log on online even for single player. After being unable to log on for three hours, one of its users chimed in with his very polite $0.02 opinion, only to get himself banned by EA admins. Another great victory for DRM." Update: 01/29 18:00 GMT by S : The player's ban has been lifted, and it seems to have happened for an unrelated issue anyway.
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Feedback On Simcity Gets User Banned From EA Forums

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  • Was it EA..... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jythie ( 914043 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @12:47PM (#42727563)
    Was it EA that had their forum and DRM systems linked in such a way that getting banned could also lock you out of content you had purchased, or was that another company? I vaguely recall it being a thing a while back.
    • Re:Was it EA..... (Score:5, Informative)

      by i kan reed ( 749298 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @12:51PM (#42727639) Homepage Journal

      Yes, it was EA. If you see an EA logo on a game, don't buy it.

      • Re:Was it EA..... (Score:5, Informative)

        by tripleevenfall ( 1990004 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @01:02PM (#42727861)

        I have no idea why anyone would buy any game, from any publisher, that required an internet connection for online play. Mind-boggling.

        I love SimCity, but would never consider this game for that very reason.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I bought Diablo 3. Beat it, replay value sucked, and then I started having connection BS. At least Blizzard will let you get a full refund within like.. 30 or 60 days. So I did.

        • Re:Was it EA..... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @01:15PM (#42728031)

          While I do want a Simcity game, as SimCity 4 is 9 years old at this point, I can't see this new product as a Simcity game. There is no local saves. There are preset map sizes (don't mind that that much), but there is a problem here. The player is not able to edit the land. I can't level a mountain to make way for a road. I can't build a system of streams and lakes. They want players to view making a city a puzzle that also takes into account terrain and wondering how to build a road around that mountain. They want the toy (not a game by Will Wright's point of view) to play with the players instead of letting the players play freely with it. Not everyone wants their cities to be compared to the works of others.

          At this rate, I doubt it will have any fun cheat codes as was a staple of the series.

          • by jaymz666 ( 34050 )

            The latest iteration of Sim City, and Civ V for that matter before it, feel like re-interpretations of the games on which they are based. After the designers hear a rough description of what the game is they create it based on a completely different set of rules and expectations than the original game used.

            • Re:Was it EA..... (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Omestes ( 471991 ) <omestesNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @01:53PM (#42728601) Homepage Journal

              To be fair... This is sort of inevitable with the Civ and SimCity franchises...

              There has been a ton of Civ games, and pretty much all of them have been good. Yes, some were better, some were worse, but all of them were good. So what can you really do to improve it, outside of graphics? Why would I ever move beyond FreeCiv or Civ 4? Civ has pretty much covered everything now, and the only thing I really want is the Near Future stuff that was in Call To Power, along with the Religion stuff in Civ 4 and Civ 5 Gods and Kings.

              SimCity is worse... How exactly do you make a better version of SimCity 4?

              These are OLD franchises, probably among the oldest, if not they oldest gaming franchises that are still being made. Civ came out in 1991, and SimCity in 1989. I still have the original disk for the C64 version.

              The always on bit does suck, though. And makes me mad, I would love to play some SimCity, but sadly SimCity 4 doesn't modern hardware/software, and all the clones are pretty bad or boring (CitiesXL, almost good.). I will probably still buy it, though I will grumble the whole time.

              • SimCity is worse... How exactly do you make a better version of SimCity 4?

                You take your hints from the mod community, which did some awesome things with SC4 in terms of expanding road building, architecture, etc. You combine that with the new developments in automata simulation (everything in the new SimCity is a fully-simulated automaton), and you leverage increased computing power for a more accurate experience.

                Instead, the new SimCity *reduces* player flexibility in these areas. You can build dirt roads up through avenues, but that's it. There are no highways in the city; t

        • by Duds ( 100634 ) *

          Yep, I saw the original story saying that, I stopped reading about the game. I mess about with their iOS Simpsons game and I get connection failures way too often to deal with a game that will only let me play when I can see their failservers.

          Worse of course, this is EA, they retire online services for games as soon as a year after it comes out. In this case, that means "retiring" the entire game.

        • Agreed. I only buy games from companies that enable online play through supernatural means.
      • Re:Was it EA..... (Score:5, Informative)

        by tonywong ( 96839 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @01:03PM (#42727865) Homepage
        Better summary here:

      • Re:Was it EA..... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @03:35PM (#42730105) Journal

        And ya know what? despite what so many have written poo pooing the idea of a boycott "poo poo they never work poo poo" the fact that EA is on the selling block along with Activision's parent company looking to restructure tells me that boycotts DO work, they just take awhile to be fully felt.

        And if nothing else at the very least you aren't paying to be treated like shit. I refuse to buy any game that has always online DRM and make it clear to the company whose product I'm avoiding not only WHY I'm avoiding them but what competitor got the money earmarked for them. When D3 came out with always online DRM I wrote Blizzard a nice letter telling them that despite buying both of the previous products several times (for myself and for family/friends) this time I would be giving my money to Torchlight II instead which I bought several copies of. While ultimately nobody in a position of power may read my letter at least they know where several sales went and if enough people do the same they can certainly feel it on their bottom line.

        Ultimately even if the corp doesn't hear us we have to make sure the Internet media hears us, so that the corps can't use that old scapegoat piracy as an excuse to demand more draconian copyright laws like DMCA. As it is now if we do not speak up some PHB will be trotting out a PPT and while pointing at the numbers say "If you see here we sold X number of our previous product and our focus groups say X+Y play games of that genre today so the fact that we didn't sell X+Y just proves its those dirty pirates".

        But I make it clear on any discussion of the game/s I'm boycotting that neither me nor my family will have this product as long as its anti-consumer, we won't buy it, download it, it won't be allowed in our home. So make your voice heard, speak up and let the world know when you refuse to buy a game because of shitty practices and no pirating it either, that just gives them more ammo to use against us.

    • Re:Was it EA..... (Score:5, Informative)

      by jaymz666 ( 34050 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @12:55PM (#42727719)

      I believe the story in question was EA Forum Bans Can Lock You Out Of Games http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/03/11/ea-forum-bans-can-lock-you-out-of-games/ [rockpapershotgun.com]

    • Re:Was it EA..... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by stephanruby ( 542433 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @02:51PM (#42729499)

      Update: 01/29 18:00 GMT by S : The player's ban has been lifted, and it seems to have happened for an unrelated issue anyway.

      Personally, if I had been EA I would have prevented the player from participating in any future *closed* betas (and I wouldn't be surprised if that's what they tried to do in this case). Clearly, that player knew he was in a "closed beta", he mentioned that fact twice at least, but apparently he doesn't seem to understand the meaning of that word "closed".

      In a closed beta, the feedback you provide stays private. That's the entire point of a beta being closed. Either you email the company directly, or you post in a private forum (designated only for closed beta players), but you do not post your feedback in their public forum.

      Sheesh!! The standard is becoming so high, even that word beta doesn't seem to mean anything anymore.

  • by Aquitaine ( 102097 ) <samNO@SPAMiamsam.org> on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @12:49PM (#42727599) Homepage

    It isn't EA's latest game - it's a beta test with rules and restrictions typical of beta tests.

    The game doesn't come out until March. Being 'unable to log on' for three hours might be a worthy complaint after that.

    • by The MAZZTer ( 911996 ) <megazzt&gmail,com> on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @12:50PM (#42727621) Homepage
      It IS a beta, and if you have a problem with it... such as being unable to log on... you're expected to report such problems (unless the devs already clearly know about it, maybe).
      • If this was the most recent beta over the weekend, it wasn't a *real* beta, it was a preview weekend to bump up pre-orders that just happened to be called a beta test. You could only play for an hour at a time, probably half the content wasn't there, and every time the game ended, Origin would open the SimCity pre-order page in the store and it would open the pre-order page in your browser as well. There was no *required* post-game reporting, feedback or bug reports.
    • Maybe, but banning someone for complaining about being unable to log in is still ridiculous.

      • by Andy Dodd ( 701 )

        One valid question would be: Did they accidentally post something related to the beta in a public discussion forum instead of the private one related to the game?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @01:15PM (#42728025)

        Sure, if that's what happened. EA has reversed the ban and is chalking it up to a bug [reddit.com].

        I.E. Nothing to see here, move along.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 )

          I.E. Nothing to see here, move along.

          I wouldn't go that far. They have a bug in their system that causes people who opted out of email communication to instead get banned. That doesn't exactly inspire confidence that EA knows what they're doing. Regardless of whether the ban was intentional, it's reasons like this that they have such a shitty reputation.

      • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

        Agreed. Sure this is EAs sandbox, if they don't want to respect people who are playing/testing/etc their games and run their forums like a petty fiefdom, then more power to them.

        And....more power to myself and everyone else who judges them accordingly for how they use their power when they have it....and again how they react when its pointed out how stupid they are being.

        There is being within your rights, and there is acting right. The latter is a subset of the former, not the other way around.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The game doesn't come out until March. Being 'unable to log on' for three hours might be a worthy complaint after that.

      "might be" you say... Is there some mitigating circumstance where it's okay for a released game to arbitrarily not work for some purchasers that puts that "might" in there?

  • by i kan reed ( 749298 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @12:49PM (#42727605) Homepage Journal

    And I have no reason to think the gameplay of this latest iteration is bad. But I'm never going to buy it. Ever. I don't care if that doesn't influence EA to stop being terrible, but all I can ever do is not buy their stuff.

    If you must play this game(and you don't) please pirate it. Please.

    • by Abstrackt ( 609015 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @12:59PM (#42727809)

      If you must play this game(and you don't) please pirate it. Please.

      Personally, I think it sends a stronger message to tell the company "your product isn't even worth pirating" than to establish that there is in fact demand for it despite the issues.

      • by brxndxn ( 461473 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @01:10PM (#42727975)

        I think it would send the strongest message if they could see the following:

        - sales rates go up when games have less DRM
        - piracy goes up when games have more DRM independent of sales rate
        - EA sales would increase if EA stops being assholes
        - EA does not see any of this because EA's head is in its ass

        • - sales rates go up when games have less DRM

          For certain types of DRM, I would agree with you. For instance, if you're some random company that's developing a city building game and your users are unable to login for THREE HOURS and require an ALWAYS ONLINE connection for an OBVIOUSLY OFFLINE game, I think you have an argument that it's going to hurt sales. A lot.

          On the other hand, DRM does have a positive impact on sales when implemented reasonably. For a well written article on how it helps, see here: http://www.windowsusers.org/piracy.html [windowsusers.org]

      • If you get a better gameplay experience from pirating software instead of buying it (as is the case here) it just shows how horribly broken the retail version is. That's the sign of poor management and terribly implemented DRM.
      • by PhilHibbs ( 4537 )

        Why would the product not be worth pirating? If it's a good game other than the always-online side, why pretend that it isn't? If you want to send a message to a company, make it accurate. Slinging mud at every aspect of a game, when it's just the DRM that's a problem, will not get DRM issues addressed.

    • by mjr167 ( 2477430 )
      I'm with you. I loved Sim City and the Sims until Origin. Now I won't buy another EA game.
    • by ddxexex ( 1664191 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @01:08PM (#42727941)

      If you must play this game(and you don't) please pirate it. Please.

      I never like it when people suggest pirating software as a form of protest, if you think the DRM is too intrusive, don't buy the game at all. For the bad car analogy, Let's say you don't like On-Star because you think its too intrusive. You see a car you like, but it only comes with On-Star. So to protest On-Star you steal a car. That's not protesting it's an excuse to steal.

      If you must play the game, buy it, feel guilty about not sticking to your morals, then attempt to forgive yourself by donating to the EFF or something.

    • by fermion ( 181285 )
      Simcity is one of the few video games that I played and bought. They lost me when they required media to play the game. I don't pirate games, I buy then and play them. When you inconvenience me and treat me like a criminal, I don't buy them anymore.
    • I've bought the previous 3 Simcity games because I love the casual experimenting I can do with it, but when I first heard about the always online requirement I decide not to buy it, nor get a "liberated" copy.
      I've bought games while running the pirated versions so I'd not be bothered by always use CD in tray, etc., but something like that I find less offensive than EA's scheme.

      It's a shame that Simcity 4 will probably be the last version I'll play...
    • If you must play a SimCity-style game, consider the alternatives like Lincity [wikipedia.org], OpenCity [wikipedia.org], or Micropolis. [wikipedia.org] And let EA know why you're not going to buy their game.

    • I have always in the past bought and paid for the Simcity series. It was a fun game to me and worth rewarding them with the encouragement to make new and better versions. However, even though I bought the game, I still downloaded the No CD crack. I hate having to switch discs in and out of the tray every time I want to play something different.
      With this latest version, I will be waiting for the No CD crack AND the offline play crack. With the way the game is setup, it may not even be possible for there to
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @12:50PM (#42727631)

    STOP buying EA games.

  • Where is the link to the actual article? All this posting is, is a link to EA's website and a bunch of photo-hosting site pictures. Has the user actually engaged EA's customer support over email to appeal the ban? Would like if there was an actual story, because as it currently stands, this seems to be just one person posting anecdotal information that is focused on a single person, not a widespread group.

  • DRM = NO SALE (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kaitiff ( 167826 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @12:53PM (#42727683) Homepage

    I was an avid Diablo and Diablo II player. Same with Starcraft. These games gave me endless hours of enjoyment in some cases decades after release. I have not and will not purchase either Starcraft II or Diablo III. I am a 'lost sale' because of the WAR on gamers by the studios. Any game I purchase, in a store or otherwise, that I can't play at my leisure now or at any time in the future because the creator or owner of the license shuts down a server, or stops supporting the game will not be in my inventory.

    • Unfortunately you're a minority because game sales have never been so high. I 100% agree with you that DRM is bad since it doesn't bring any benefits to the single player experience. I think game companies should continu providing good multiplayer experiences in hopes that drives piracy down.

  • by Isca ( 550291 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @12:53PM (#42727695)
    This setup is the stupidest thing to come down the pike in a long time. I can understand having the DRM to be able to play online. What I don't understand is why there is not an offline mode that does not allow you to take advantage of all the online only features and who's gameplay doesn't affect the online version. And the article shows just how far they have gone into looney land - no constructive feedback allowed. This will be literally the first Sim City I will not own. I have bought literally every version of it over the years including the original Sim City.
    • I sure there will be an offline version put out by a certain Bay with pirates in it soon enough
    • by alen ( 225700 )

      from what i have read the game is always online because every city is part of the simcountry or whatever. every city will be affected by events in other players' cities

      • That's the justification that EA uses to explain why they need the DRM. In other words, that's them explaining why the DRM is actually a feature instead of a hindrance. There's no technical reason why a player shouldn't be allowed to play offline and not be part of the online community.

    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      you're the lgr dude? including bbc-micro version, educational version etc??


  • by addie ( 470476 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @12:57PM (#42727767)

    I'm guessing his getting banned is more to do with openly discussing his experience in the closed beta than criticizing the DRM.

  • Consider Me Warned (Score:5, Insightful)

    by houbou ( 1097327 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @12:59PM (#42727795) Journal
    Feedback is feedback.. the feedback I read, did not warrant getting banned. Worse, it was constructive in many ways. Finally, this is a paying customer. If this is how EA will now do business, consider me warned, I'm not buying their wares. I think it should be illegal to stop a paying customer from being able to provide feedback, especially since this customer is trying to have access to a product which he paid to used in the first place.
  • by WilyCoder ( 736280 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @01:02PM (#42727857)

    I am ever so close to abandoning video games as a hobby because of shit like this.

    I've got a nice collection of board games and they are so much fun to play with a group of friends over some drinks and pizza. When I contrast that experience with the racist, homophobic insults I may encounter on XBOX live and other crap like this DRM, its getting harder and harder to justify that $60 video game.

    As a programmer by day for a long time now, there is NO functional need for always online DRM for most game types. It benefits me, the consumer,(cough) I mean CITIZEN, in no way whatsoever. They know it, I know it, and yet they want me to buy the shit they are shoveling at me.

    With these types of citizen abuse occurring in the gaming industry I hope it tanks. Not that I want to see people lose their jobs, but I want the business model to change.

    The future, in my humble opinion, lies with the indie market. Look at games like FTL and Hotline Miami. Available to purchase without DRM, probably pirated to hell and back, and yet those small 1-2 man teams are each now probably millionaires. And they deserve it. Does EA deserve even a single penny for their anti-citizen activities? One of the tenets of capitalism is ownership of private property. With each new AAA game released, I own less and less of it. Fuck you EA, you are anti-capitalist and you are part of the reason why citizen rights are eroding.

  • by Bogtha ( 906264 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @01:03PM (#42727863)

    The EA developers working on this did a Q&A [reddit.com] last month. Needless to say, the responses mentioned DRM quite a bit... this person summed a lot of them up nicely [reddit.com]. Those are responses only from the Q&A, and he only stopped because Reddit doesn't allow longer comments.

  • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @01:04PM (#42727889)

    The solution is simple. Do not buy these games.

    Spend your entertainment dollars on something else. That is the only way they will get the message.

  • It was a beta, so we should be somewhat forgiving of flaws.

    Then again, where I live, 60 euro buys you the 'limited edition', which doesn't even include all the content available at launch. I'm not sure if there will be a demo, and reviews are on and off, so what exactly am I supposed to use for judging if it's worth 60 euro? As much as they see it as a Beta themselves, for lots of people this was effectively a commercial demo. I'm sure they can fix the network problems, but in terms of gameplay I doubt they

  • Don't buy an EA game. Now, I would suggest buying it and then playing the cracked version instead, however that doesn't send the message to EA that they need to hear. So my best advice is just to stay away from EA.

  • I just heard an NPR story incredibly similar to this just this morning except it was the Chinese Communist Party suppressing all dissenting opinions and anything negative about them. Get ready for an epic level pushback/Streisand effect from this. It's already on Slashdot so really you don't have to "get ready" you get to "get popcorn" lol.
  • by mrbene ( 1380531 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @01:22PM (#42728171)

    As he updated today, again on Reddit:

    It turns out however, that EA is having really bad technical issues and managed to accidentally ban several users. The cause, they credit, is something to do with the email opt-out. (Which explains why I did not receive information regarding the ban)

    ref [reddit.com]

    Always On DRM is still a reason not to buy the game, as is buggy account management. However, the day-long Slashdot lag is providing only half the story.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @01:29PM (#42728273)

    About mid-day yesterday, I was banned from EA's Answer HQ[2] for, what I thought, was constructive criticism.
    It turns out however, that EA is having really bad technical issues and managed to accidentally ban several users[3] . The cause, they credit, is something to do with the email opt-out. (Which explains why I did not receive information regarding the ban)
    EA's representative did, however, issue an apology to me and I felt it only fair I set things right. (And give him credit for being an awesome guy in a place where he would normally be considered a dick)
    I received a message earlier today (here on reddit) from Chris Deum[4] , the guy who heads up EA's Answer HQ, apologizing for the glitch. The message is below.
    Hi Puppier,
    I made a post in reply on both imgur and your reddit post, but I just wanted you to know that we've lifted your ban on AHQ. As you know, the system is sending out a lot of emails and it looks like you opted out of receiving mails from us, which for some reason is banning users. There's a few posts on it, for example here http://answers.ea.com/t5/Technical-Problems/Problem-with-Answer-HQ-banned-because-I-tried-to-stop-getting/m-p/419214/highlight/true#M1430[5] . It's not the biggest thread, but it's the first I could get to.
    The team is working to fix the bug, but in the interim I actually have one member sitting scanning our logs for anyone that opts out, so we can unban them as quickly as possible.
    Apologies again - as you mentioned. There's a lot of similar feedback to yours that hasn't been removed from the forums and the authors banned.
    Feel free to give me a shout with any other feedback you have. I'll personally make sure it gets to the right people to make up for the annoyance.
    I finally did get SimCity to play and IMO it looks as if it will be a fun game. Although they still need to consider their always online policy, I believe that this game is looking out to be good. Thanks for all the support though and bringing this to the attention of EA!
    TL; DR EA fixes false ban, EA sucks less.


    • by ildon ( 413912 )

      I'd like to point out this follow up was posted well over 24 hrs ago. Yet all these "gaming news" sites chose to run the story anyway without any additional fact checking.

  • Hope they paid with a credit card. At least there's a chargeback possibility.

  • Sometimes I buy them even if I don't want to play them (seriously). I think I bought a Humble Bundle last year that I still haven't even looked at yet. Hell, I'm not even a gamer. But I'll spend money on non-DRM software just to encourage more of it.
  • You bought a program that you presumably knew included this DRM. You gave the company the permission to deny you access to what you paid good money for. They did that. It was certain that they would eventually, they just did it sooner than you may have expected. Have you learned anything in general about buying games encumbered with DRM (including Steam) or is your learning limited to EA and Sim City (which they already have your money for anyway)?

    Thanks, by the way, for screwing things up for those of us

  • Just how difficult is it to create your own server for these games? Are they in the habit of encrypting or using proprietary compression schemes?

    Being a software engineer I'm used to writing communications and products from a requirements document and datasheets, wondering how difficult it would be to reverse-engineer the communications protocol and blindly write what's happening on the server...

  • by Andrio ( 2580551 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @02:01PM (#42728761)
    I too am a long time SimCity fan who will not buy this game because of the DRM.

    Perhaps I should send a letter letting EA know that I voted with my wallet. See, that's a problem with "voting with your wallet" in that there's really no way to tell what someone voted with their wallet for/against. If the game sells badly because people voted with their wallets against always-on DRM, it's more likely that the higher-ups at EA conclude "There isn't a big enough market for city simulation games. Let's just not greenlight any such future games, and focus on Medal of Madden XXVI!"

    You could send an email, but realistically, those things will never really be read. An actual paper letter though; that's something someone *will* look at.
  • by MaWeiTao ( 908546 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @02:40PM (#42729359)

    This is one of the many reasons why I've long since stopped buying anything from EA. Obviously most people aren't doing the same hence why EA continues to tread with impunity.

"It takes all sorts of in & out-door schooling to get adapted to my kind of fooling" - R. Frost