EA Fails to Clarify Murky Ban Policy

November 18, 2011 -

Electronic Arts claims that it is formulating on "more equitable" rules in the wake of numerous bans from its forums that have locked some users out of games on its Origin service. The Escapist does a nice job chronicling the events that really began this problem back in March, when a mouthy BioWare Social Network user earned a 72 hour ban in the forums and found that he had also been locked out of Dragon Age 2 - a game he paid money for. And the ban affected single-player, which was most confusing of all. Other users mentioned similar problems with BioWare's games.

Fast-forward to today and we learn that shenanigans continue. Rock, Paper, Shotgun, reported this week that its readers report being banned from EA forums and not being able to access Battlefield 3 or any other games tied to their EA accounts. EA offered a response to RPS - but it doesn't address or even discuss severing forum bans from service bans.

"With every game and service EA offers, we take the satisfaction of our customers very seriously. We discourage cheating and strive to maintain a high level of integrity in both our games and our forums. Therefore when someone violates our Terms of Service, we are forced to take actions that can include suspensions and other measures. We do not take those decisions lightly - however the integrity of our services and the satisfaction of our customers requires a clear set of rules," John Reseburg from EA Corporate Communications told the Rock, Paper, Shotgun.

"We have listened to our customers and are planning a policy update which will include more equitable rules on suspensions - we want to make sure the time fits the crime," he added. "As with all technology updates, these changes take some time to implement. Meanwhile, we urge any user with a question about suspensions or our policies to please contact us at (866) 543-5435 so we can address their specific situation."

Of course none of this clears up the issues related to forum bans. Apparently it's only safe to get in trouble on EA-related forums if you don't have any type of service tied to that account. While EA said earlier this year with the BioWare Network bans that it was an "accident," it sure seems like what's going on is now a policy. Hopefully EA clarifies just what its user base can expect when they get banned in a forum...

Source: The Escapist, RPS

 

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Re: EA Fails to Clarify Murky Ban Policy

Avoid EA forums like the plague. Got it. Thanks.

Re: EA Fails to Clarify Murky Ban Policy

The way EA consistently screw their customers over, I'd see your "Avoid EA forums like the plague." and raise you an "Avoid anything from EA like the plague".

Re: EA Fails to Clarify Murky Ban Policy

This is representative of a greater problem, too: Why ban?

We often forget to examine judicial practices in society; what our laws are, how they are enforced, and what they are intended to do. Failing to do so causes problems as people get hung up on 'it's wrong because it's illegal; it's illegal because it's wrong' kind of circular logic.

And important societal question becomes relevant here: What is punishment intended to do?

There are two camps: revenge and reformation. The former punishes wrong doers in retaliation because they did wrong. The latter punishes people in hopes that they can help the wrong doers become (societally) good. Unsurprisingly, the former group is interested in visceral punishment, like harsh prisons, corporal punishment and capital punishment. The latter group prefers things like prison labor, therapy and social integration. Neither group is entirely right, but they do have very opposing points of view.

So back to gaming -- why do we ban? What do we hope to accomplish? Permabanning someone from a game is pretty harsh, especially when you're preventing them from solo/offline content as well as social/online content. This isn't stopping people from trying to cheat or mouthing off in chat, and it is hurting some legitimate players who are banned by overzealous moderators. Isn't there a better solution?

My thoughts are, if Origin wants to tie in message boards with the game accounts, why not separate words and actions? If someone is banned from the message boards, or banned for being inappropriate in an ingame chat, muzzle them. The muzzled player can't use the VO functions, and enter text messages of any kind, but they can use prewritten text and dialog built in to the game. (And perhaps a second-level muzzling if they abuse that somehow, like spamming.)

Likewise, cheaters would be banned from playing games, but not communicating or watching. (A second-level banning may rule out spectation, in case of some sort of exploit.)

This could all be merged in to a three-strikes style system where players could see their status easily whenever they were logged in. Each strike would be a ticket against the player by a moderator, all of which could be appealed from this 'community-status' area. This way, no one is banned unfairly or unjustly, and loudmouths aren't punished beyond the scope of their 'misdeed'.

This ended up more rambly than intended. It's an idea, anyhow.

Re: EA Fails to Clarify Murky Ban Policy

I just wrote up a blog rant, picking apart the logic in both sides.  It makes the comment section less "ranty," even though I get to rant. :P

Re: EA Fails to Clarify Murky Ban Policy

Worst business model ever have local Forum Nazi's control your business.

Anyone remember CMGSCCC, Codebreak now known as Codetwink? (Seriously they changed their name to a name meant to describe skinny gay males which the term Twink came from to insult overpowered users)

Re: EA Fails to Clarify Murky Ban Policy

EA is the biggest bunch of lying scumbags in the industry. Shame on them. This kind of stuff is why I will NEVER use Origin.

Re: EA Fails to Clarify Murky Ban Policy

You are not buying the game, but a license with which you are allowed to play the game with. This privilege can be revoked at any time and for any reason by the provider. This service is provided for with a cheap and affordable price, with plenty of extras excluded, and more being worked on with each passing day for you to purchase also. If you do not purchase these extras you may find it a problem to connect with others, while if you do purchase them, you may find it a problem to connect with others. We feel that this is the best business model for both the producer and not customers of the game.

 

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I once had a dream about God. In it, he was looking down upon the planet and the havoc we recked and he said unto us, "Damn Kids get off my lawn!"

Re: EA Fails to Clarify Murky Ban Policy

Sorry, but no, the old breaking it down to the fact that you're really only purchasing a license doesn't excuse the banning in a forum revoking access to games.  One should have zero impact on the other unless there is clear overlap between them in the behavior that the ban is being issued for.

We have a similar system at work.  The licenses for our software are heavily tied in with our forums and a user's account.  Still, when I ban a user from the forums that doesn't take away their access to the software.  That's a completely separate action, and something that they have to pretty much go out of their way to cross some very clear lines for that to happen.  Like cyberstalking an employee and making harassing phone calls to them in the middle of the night (actually happened).  Our users paid good money to use our software, just because they act like an asshat in the forums is no reason for me take away their access to that software.

Re: EA Fails to Clarify Murky Ban Policy

Did you really miss the huge sarcasm tag in his post?

Re: EA Fails to Clarify Murky Ban Policy

WTF?  It's not the amount of time of the ban that's the issue.  The issue is whether you can ban people from a game just because you don't like what they said on a forum.  To a sane person, that notion is laughable bullshit.  Try to convince me otherwise if you think you can, but don't pretend this is just about how long the ban should be.  It's a pretty pathetic and transparent strawman argument.

Re: EA Fails to Clarify Murky Ban Policy

Seriously. This is something most companies understand - typically forum bans are separate from game bans, so you can get locked out of discussion forums but still play the game. As far as I know, Steam does this, Xbox Live does this, every MMO I've played does this - WoW sometimes even bans people from specific sections of their forums and not the whole thing.

This is the only time I've heard of a forum ban extending to a game ban.

 
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