Electronic Arts is still in the middle of a big roll-out through its DRM-focused Origin platform, and it’s already facing woes from unhappy consumers. This time, some North American gamers who bought Battlefield 4 were not able to play the game, as Origin misread their ISP and region-locked them with the EU release date.
The PC version of Battlefield 4 was released yesterday for East and Central Asia, North and South America, and Russia, but gamers within the European Union region won’t see the game until November 1st. But EA’s help page was filled with complaints from gamers, particularly those living in the U.S. and Canada, that received region-locked barriers and were unable to download the game. In a blog post at PC Perspective, Scott Michaud wrote that he encountered the experience first-hand, and that somehow his ISP, “Teksavvy cCable” (Michaud assures that is not a typo), was read by Origin’s DRM as from the EU:
I used my (in repair) Bell Canada DSL connection and was able to access the Battlefield 4 campaign (the connection is too unstable for multiplayer until it gets fixed). I, then, tried to access it again with Teksavvy? Nope. Relocked.
But it’s not just oddly spelled ISPs that are having trouble: Many gamers experiencing problems in the U.S. get their internet from AT&T Uverse in addition to region-specific ISP providers. But in the short term, there’s nothing that EA can do to fix Origin’s readings — those gamers will just have to wait two more days to play their new game.
EA’s latest Origin mishap looks minor to the absolute disaster that happened during the SimCity launch, both in size and scale. Those problems were the result of poor preparation of Origin’s servers, and they still occur in some variations — two months ago, my lovely little town was blocked permanently due to some kind of server overload, and Origin staff were unable to fix it. Battlefield 4 is a less-popular game, and its issues thus far should be fixed by Friday.
However, EA needs to have a clean roll-out if it expects gamers to continue to use the Origin platform and buy the company’s games. Given its previous disasters and focus on always-on DRM, Origin is already on shaky ground. The platform’s reputation will only sink further with each story, each wave of complaints — turning Origin’s reputation into one that not only forces gamers to jump through hoops in the name of “fighting piracy,” but also one that continues to suffer its greatest woes because of it. At this point, Origin continues to punish gamers for buying a game.
Games need to be smoothly received, or gamers will look somewhere else to get their fix.