Archive forAugust, 2012

Origin…

[ Yes, this is a long post. But it might actually prove to be funny – read it and laugh at someone who made the mistake of actually paying for an EA game… :) ]

I have played many pirated games in my life. As a student, with a game costing as much as my scholarship for an entire month, I really couldn’t convince myself to pay for them.

But things (and income :) ) have changed. And Steam came along, making it easier and more convenient to buy a game than to chase down every update on dubious sites. So I have made it a point to purchase the games that I actually enjoy. I have even purchased the complete Prince of Persia series, knowing that I will probably never get the time to play it again – simply because I enjoyed the series, and I would love to see another similar game.

Well, I must confess – I also loved the Mass Effect series. I have probably sunk more than 100 hours of my life in the series (and that was before ME3 came out!). So when I finally got the time to play the final installment in the trilogy, I decided to just go ahead and buy it.

In comes the first hurdle – the thing is not available on Steam (and don’t even get me started on the fact that you can buy ME2 on steam, but not a single one of the DLCs!). Why did this happen? Simply because Valve and EA cannot agree on how to share the big pie of the profits (yes, I know, there are countless threads on the issue, but it all boils down to money in the end).

Not a problem – I will simply go to a store, and buy it on DVD. Yes, it will eventually install Origin (which some people say it’s very much like spyware), but how bad can it really be? Oh, if I had only known…

So I come home with my freshly bought game. Eager to install it and start playing. And surprisingly enough, everything seemed to be going smoothly. I installed Origin (which behaves pretty much like a Steam client with fewer features :) ), redeemed the product key, and installed the game. And everything seemed fine in the world.

That is… until I wanted more. I knew that the story would not be really complete without the “From Ashes” DLC (yes, the day-zero DLC that prompted yet another ME3-related scandal all over the web). So I decided to buy that one as well.

It seemed simple enough – click on “Downloadable Content”, the Origin overlay opens, enter the payment details, and that’s that!

Not really. First time, I tried the payment using paypal. And immediately after entering my payment details, I got a nice “Generic Error – An error has occurred while trying to process your request. Please, try again later.”. OK, no problem, I will try again. And again. And again. About 6  times over the course of 14 hours – every single time with the same result.

No problem – I will take it up with EA’s support. Assuming I can actually find it – going to store.origin.com and clicking on “Customer service” gets you this page (a relic that seems to have been written before Windows 7 came out :) ). And both links for tech support send you here ( to support.electronicarts.co.uk, which doesn’ teven have a DNS entry!)

Please note that the above pages may not look the same for you – the Origin store always redirects you to the “local” store based on your current IP (very funny for me, since I am currently travelling in Sweden, and I cannot understand Swedish at all :) ). A problem that EA has known about since at least 2009, yet they have not fixed it yet (as of August 2012!).

Moving on – I finally stumble upon the help page (help.ea.com), and yet another bug – the links to “live chat”/”call me”/”email me” all stay grayed out. No matter how much I try, and no matter what I enter as “product” and “platform”, I still get no way of contacting someone. I assume that this is because the business hours have ended, and wait some more…

Finally, 8 hours later, I try again and the “live chat” button lights up… Let’s see what I find out:

TechSupport: I would recommend you to try purchasing through the credit card in order to purchase the game.
me: I would rather use paypal. Is that not an option?
TS: You can definitely use the paypal option. However it might be possible that its a temp issue, you can try purchasing through the paypal after sometime. Or you can also try using the credit card in order to purchase the game right now.
[…]
me: The “live chat” link only seems to work at certain times. At what time does it become available?
TS: We are available 24 by 7 to help our customers with any issue they face with our games.

OK, I will do as advised – let’s try using the credit card. Same error, but this time with a bonus – 1 EUR gets charged to my credit card. It looks like EA is doing some kind of pre-authorization before the actual purchase. I don’t mind that, since the money will eventually get returned to my account. What baffles me is this – how the hell could they successfully authorize 1 EUR, yet they couldn’t charge 8 EUR for the whole thing??

Back to the support site. This time, the “live chat” button stays grayed out (so much for 24/7, eh?), but the “email me” button lights up. So I type everything (again!) in an e-mail, and wait. I also mention all the problems I’ve had with the website.

A couple hours later, the “live chat” button works again (but this time the “email me” button remains grayed out :) ). I open another live chat, and type my problem again. Actual quote from the conversation:

Tech Support:
I have checked your account and got to know that the account is well and fine in our database.
me:
thank you – however, I still cannot purchase the DLC, so something is definitely _not_ fine

The TS guy cannot help me, so he escalates the problem. 8 more hours pass…

I get a reply from EA in my inbox. Wow, that was fast! Oh, wait… it’s just another TS guy closing my e-mail ticket as a duplicate of the live chat one. He doesn’t seem to have noticed that the e-mail ticket addresses multiple problems (including the dodgy buttons on the website, or the invalid link to customer support). So I copy/paste the additional parts into the last ticket. And we wait again…

In the meantime, I installed a “free” version of the game, with the corresponding DLC. The savegames are in the same place, so they carry from one version to another. Let’s see if this one works!

While searching for solutions to my problems, I came across a very interesting post (based on this). It said that the solution to piracy is not DRM, but convenience. Make it easy for people to buy stuff, and they will actually prefer buying to pirating (see the beginning of the post for my personal example of this). Apple did it with iTunes, Valve did it with Steam, CD Projekt did it with GOG.com. Unfortunately, EA still hasn’t learned this very important lesson…

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