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back to article Free games for all after EA discount code goes viral

Electronic Arts (EA) has endured a difficult weekend after a poorly-coded promotion saw a discount code that could be used many times find its way into the public domain, where it sparked a free games downloading spree. The incident seems to have started with this post to a gaming forum, which includes a discount code good for …

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Trollface

Yeah, but...

It requires installing Origin... perhaps EA figured that was a high enough cost?

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So they abused origin title too?

I am not a gamer so I had to lookup to make sure I don't confuse things.

Are you telling me electronic arts which was founded because of lack of respect in industry at that time use the legendary "Origin" title for some sort of badly developed drm spyware?

The "origin" I know is this:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origin_Systems

If they guy go out of business soon or later, it will be because of this, disrespect to the core foundation principles of their company.

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Happy

I hope they try and take the games back... I really do... because in a lot of countries that law is firmly on the side of the customer in these issues. Wrong price? tough poopies, you've got to honour! Badly handled give aways? Tough crap, gotta honour it!

The only lessons companies learn are the ones that cost them money.

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Silver badge

Assuming the DRM is cloud based or tied to an account I don't see any reason they couldn't remote kill games purchased for all but the first discount code applied to an account. For the most severe offenders they could probably just outright ban their account and deny them access to any game they got through the service.

Valve / Steam have swung the ban hammer around at various times (occasionally the wrong times) so I don't see why a similar service from a rival would have any trouble doing it.

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Anonymous Coward

1) In the UK, at least, if it's obvious the price is wrong, they don't have to honour it. (See, for example, see the recent Procook problem where they accidentally sold the pans for £0.00 - it was an obvious mistake but after they corrected the issue, they followed through and actually gave the pans - despite not having to)

2) Look at the screengrab from the support. It suggests (Rightly or wrongly) people were deleting their cookies to use the code multiple times. That to me suggests willfully bypassing a mechanism to stop it.

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FAIL

But if they have already delivered, then they have fulfilled the contract and they can't get it back.

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Facepalm

Generally these laws will give you the rights to your money.... nothing more.

No money spend == nothing to claim back by going to court.

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Silver badge

"But if they have already delivered, then they have fulfilled the contract and they can't get it back."

EA's retort would be to point out that people fraudulently obtained discounts by circumventing a protection mechanism and thus the sale / licence was null and void. You might get away with using the code once as it was intended to be used. But use it twice or more and you really haven't a leg to stand on.

Besides, their legalese than you must agree to use their service makes it clear that if you want dispute something you have to enter arbitration. Good luck with that.

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Silver badge

If it doesn't involve the EXCHANGE of valuable property

it isn't a contract. Now, "valuable property" may only be 1 dollar or pound depending on your locality, but if money doesn't change hands, you got nuttin.

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Steam sucks, it refused to let me use a genuine store bought copy of a game, so I contacted support and complained. They added the game to my Steam account so I could download it, all 3GB of it but they then asked me if the computer I planned to play it on was connected to the internet. When I said no they said they'd have to refund my money as it needed an internet connection even if I was doing a single player version.

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Only needs online once

Steam only needs to be online once to install the game. Once it is installed, you go to offline mode and the game works fine. That's the way I run Steam. I am never connected unless I am installing something.

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Re: Only needs online once

Yup but the computer is in a remote house where there is no internet, no reliable mobile signal, which is why I wanted the game - you can get bored of the same view. My plan was to burn the download to a DVD and then install it on the computer when I got there which would have been fine. However the computer would need to be connected to the internet to validate the game and as I can't move it around easily - a mini tower and I don't drive, that's why they refunded the cost. I can't install it on my laptop owing to policies with some of the clients who I work with, about what software is installed on the machine when I connect it to their network. The text on the box did say that it needed to be connected to the internet, however it was covered by the price sticker.

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Happy

Oh dear

It couldn't have happened to a nicer company.

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Re: Oh dear

I think on the evil games company scale EA is probably 3rd or 4th at least these days.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Oh dear

i dont know....are Apple still around ?

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Yea, Karma. But...

These guys can't even expire a used hex ticket, one wonders how safe is the real deal. Personal details, cc...

They just sent a "heads up,we are stupid" signal to black hat scene. Are they aware of that basic fact?

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Re: Oh dear

Who's #1 and #2 then? Just curious, in order to avoid.

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WTF?

Too honest to pirate, too cheap to not take advantage - who are these people?

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Anonymous Coward

They're the same people who see an item online for £50 instead of the usual £500, order it and when they get the email saying "sorry we cannot complete the order due to a pricing error" they bitterly complain on Watchdog that the company cheated them...

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Further to "the same people who see an item online for £50 instead of the usual £500, order it...", they'll actually order 5 and start crowing publically that they're going to make a killing on ebay.

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I hope the terms and conditions of the promotion say one per customer for completing the survey. Would love to see all the games downloaded invalidated. Gaming is having a tough enough time financially as it is, without bona fide customers exploiting cock ups.

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Mushroom

EA won't care

Afterall Origin is now on many more machines, just increasing their data rape policies of being able to legally take anything they want from mobile phones, facebook, PS3, xbox and Pc. Assuming you use one of them to install their games.

Just increases their detailed database and they will know who abused the system, afterall it is explicit in stating if you log in on facebook to use their service they can take all your information, it also states if you use you phone they can take your mobile number etc etc etc.

And there is also the caveat you agree that it is outside the DPA to do this, and that they use Asian servers to store it all.

Enjoy.

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Linux

Dodgy web programming to match their dodgy game programming. As deadlockvictim put it "It couldn't have happened to a nicer company."

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Silver badge

Can someone send me teh codez?

kthxbye!

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Anonymous Coward

Maybe it was on purpose ?

Now loads of people have their crapware installed.

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I had no idea until it was too late, but I can quite honestly say that even if I'd had a headsup it wouldn't have been enough of an incentive to install that Origin crapware on my pc.

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Silver badge

Client side validation?

They surely got exactly what they deserved...

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Bronze badge

Re: Client side validation?

I was wondering that myself. Why the hell would you use client-side data for this? At the end f the survey just generate a GUID, send the GUID to a two-column table in a database (GUID and a boolean flag for it being claimed), when the code is redeemed, validate that the GUID is in the DB and set the flag. No need to ask the client for anything. Didn't their programmers even learn "Never trust what the client tell you" in their programming classes?

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They can only profit.

There's not much of value on Origin that's $20 or under (nearly everything is RRP!), so I'm sure EA will mark this down as a PR win. Even if everyone on Reddit downloaded everything under $20, it would probably still be less than a week's marketing budget anyway.

Shame.

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Devil

Re: probably the result of very, very poor client-side validation,

Or a very, very, clever marketing scheme the coders were in on.

At least that would be my story as I asked who you were going to believe: me or your own lying eyes?

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Thumb Up

EA fucked by consumers

It's one of those endearingly backwards headlines, like "Man bites dog".

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Facepalm

Oh great

That'll just mean they force out more content packs for £5 or something for a few maps.

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FAIL

NU2001 error etc

Personally I've ceased to give a flying fuck what disasters befall EA Games/Origin or anyone associated with them. Regarding their offers, there is a distinct bias towards the US. Any offers aimed at, for instance, the UK, seem to offer nothing but problems. Those wishing to purchased discount in-game credits via a sale recently, found themselves confronted with the infamous NU2001 error, which simply tells the would-be purchaser that there is an error. A visit to the forum results in directions to EA's Help area, which in turn orders the user to contact support. Support then asks the user to wait one or two weeks and nothing further happens. These actions can be repeated ad nauseum. A quick tour around the net reveals that this is far from rare.

EA Games' profits are faltering a tad and these errors are why. If they can't sort out a problem that must be costing hundreds of thousands of dollars/pounds/euros/zlotys per week, there's not a lot of hope for them. I'm glad they cocked up here - it may make them look at everything related to purchasing and change a few things for the better. How's that for a triumph of hope over experience?

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Pirate

When does it become stealing?

So if the shop window is broken, it's okay to take what you like it seems!

People seem to expect EA to play by the rules when they have no intention of doing so themselves. Perhaps they reap what they sow in that respect?

Take what you can! Give nothing back! Yarrrr!

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a bunch of old 20$ games?

Here is a chance for EA for great PR. by letting peoples keep the games. For a company with such a bad reputation, you just buy that kind of PR. plus it get a lot of peoples to install Origin, witch seem to be one of the most hated software/DRM Scam ever.

Beside it's not the first time they gave away free (older) game. because I bough a game once from them, I got a free (older) game of my choice on their anniversary.

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