EA’s Online Store: Extra Fees, Crappy Consumer Protection

If you feel the urge to download Spore or any other game from publisher Electronic Arts, it’s probably best to do so via Steam, rather than EA’s online store.

That’s because, as Ars Technica reports, EA offers consumers their choice of:

      a.) lousy purchase protection or

      b.) slightly less lousy, but needlessly expensive protection

At issue is the right to re-download your purchased game, in the event of, say a hard drive meltdown or switching over to a new PC. When buying through EA’s online store, such rights are limited:

  • re-download rights are offered for only six months after purchase, or…
  • paying an additional $6.99 extends re-download rights to 24 months

As Ars Technica’s  Michael Thompson writes:

Why, exactly, would something like the Extended Download Service even be in existence? Keeping records of who buys what and when they bought it seems like standard business practice and would appear to be one major advantage to buying digitally. Allowing customers to access these records and re-download what they’ve already paid for seems like a no-brainer; charging people for that option just seems slimy…

In this brave new world, could it be that having to keep track of a physical game disc is actually a better long-term prospect than purchasing something from the cloud?

Thompson notes that EA subcontracts its online game distribution chores out to Digital River. But that’s of little consequence to the consumer, since EA is ultimately responsible for interactions with its customers.

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  1. Wolvenmoon says:

    EA is SO screwed. I hope the class actions go through and knock the company down, it’s about time we stopped putting up with trash products from bastard companies.

  2. ZippyDSMlee says:

    The trouble is… EA and others are not in business for the consumer….

    Shearing/Downloading will never be a mainstream market.

    Gore,Violence,Sexauilty,Fear,Emotion these are but modes
    of transportation of story and thought, to take them from
    society and you create a society of children and nannys

  3. ZippyDSMlee says:

    A better more streamlined athetacation system needs to be done,a simple account setup that is athecated once in awhile with a works for offline mode but will check keys and stuff ocne online. These thigns will make digidistro that much better for both side but curretly all they want is online only and that will just not do.

    Shearing/Downloading will never be a mainstream market.

    Gore,Violence,Sexauilty,Fear,Emotion these are but modes
    of transportation of story and thought, to take them from
    society and you create a society of children and nannys

  4. ZippyDSMlee says:

    Mind wanderign thar bro? What dose this have to do with a real price drop for digi distro games?

    Shearing/Downloading will never be a mainstream market.

    Gore,Violence,Sexauilty,Fear,Emotion these are but modes
    of transportation of story and thought, to take them from
    society and you create a society of children and nannys

  5. Jfed says:

    If only EA would stop feeding Dennis (and ArsTechnica, where the article originates) such copious ammunition!

    There’s so much EA could do to rectify problems it creates for paying customers and thereby itself, but they don’t seem terribly inclined to do so.  The criticism here is justified, especially when it raises awareness prior to purchase rather than after the fact.


    Been Watching This Mess Unfold for More Than a Year Now. 

  6. insanejedi says:

    Is this article seriously necessary? It’s kinda obvious by now that Dennis has some axe to grind with EA, and i’m not here to say your opinion is wrong, but just be upfront about it.

  7. axiomatic says:

    It’s even worse than you say. EA has bought up so many companies that I have over 15 different accounts with them that were originally unique accounts with companies before EA bought them up. No throw EADM in to the mix and all of my games are tied to so many different accounts that EADM doesn’t work, doesn’t show me all the games I own and crashes when I try to log out of one and in to another.

    On top of that EADM support is outsourced and if you try to explain any of this too them they just dont get it.

    It took me over 3 years to finally get all my games under one account and now they pull this crap with the DRM.


  8. Jfed says:

    Not terribly recent, this charge, I’ve seen it mentioned for about 6 months to a year now in the Sims2 community.

    I used to think I was just being hardheaded or old-fashioned wanting my purchased games on physical media.  Glad I listened to my gut.

    That’s not to say I’ve never purchased digital downloads, but EA’s biggest problem is that everything the company does lately is all about their benefit and not very much about the paying customer’s benefit, and the paying customer is wising up fast.  I won’t use the EAStore because it’s basically a Securom delivery system (via EADM), and I don’t appreciate having to be dependent on an internet connection at any time to play something I purchased at full price.

    I bought WoG for PC, never need to get online to play.  Same with Bigfish games.  Will be buying from GoG one of these days.  I buy, I download, I’m done – that’s the only way I’ll go for digital distribution (I’m speaking on single player PC games, obviously), when needing to go online is my choice, not theirs.  Otherwise:  physical media, plz.

    EA won’t garner any respect these days until they get someone making decisions that come from a paying customer’s POV.  Where are those people?

  9. Icehawk says:

    So let me get this straight.  There are people here (gamers mind you) that are surprised that something from EA seriously sucks?  I mean even giving them more leeway that Sarah Palin got in her VP debate EA = Fail.  They are not user (ie gamer) friendly.  Once you get past that step ignoring them with dignity becomes easier. 

  10. ZippyDSMlee says:

    I am not buying into digi distro untill games are 40% below retial price…

    Digiistro is all about volume sales at lower price but the consoles really need to get in on it befor prices will really drop.
    Pirates,Shearers,Lenders and downloaders are not a market that can be taped by the mainstream.
    Gore,Violence,Sexauilty,Fear,Emotion these are but modes
    of transp

  11. JustChris says:

    EA again erroneously tries to tell digital media to act like physical media, or in this case even deny it of some advantages that physical media has.


  12. MrKlorox says:

    This must be recent. I bought BF2142 and the expansions when they came out (respectively) via EA’s online service (was EA Link, then EADM, and there was another name in there somewhere) and can download them an unlimited number of times it seems. Glad I got them while the getting was good.

    This practice makes me wonder how Battlefield Heroes will work out when virtually everything except the game requires purchase.

  13. Spartan says:

    The monetization crew at EA really needs to be lined up and shot at prime time with the event stream casted over the Net. JR and friends apparently know no shame when it comes to raping customer rights. The asshattery here is EPIC! Down with EA and its corporate Reganomics lovin’ pond scum management.



    "The most difficult pain a man can suffer is to have knowledge of much and power over little" – Herodotus

  14. Spartan says:

    Yes I do given it created the culture of naked greed that permeates the foundation corporate culture today.


    "The most difficult pain a man can suffer is to have knowledge of much and power over little" – Herodotus

  15. shady8x says:

    Another reason to hate EA…

    I am starting to think that they are trying to piss off their customers on purpose. Otherwise why would they do all of these stupid reputation killing things one after another after another…

  16. fozzy360 says:

    Next step for EA: putting leans on properties.  I wouldn’t be surprised.





    "We received 20 calls last night. As we all know, one call equals a billion people. So 20 billion people called us last night. We must act to preserve decency on television." -The FCC

  17. Aliasalpha says:

    GOG.com is much the same, top business model and because of that, they’ve already taken a moderate amount of cash from me (with my permission obviously) and can expect a fair bit more over the next year

  18. Daria_C says:

    I love impulse.

    This holiday break I bough myself the two Galatic Civilization expansions (since I couldnt find them on amazon). As soon as I made the purchase I could download the games off of Impulse. Even better they let me download multible times. This came in handy when my family came to visit, and I had to give up my main computer to them. I logged on to Impulse and redownloaded them right to my second computer. And no, it didnt call me a pirate and demand money. Stardock treats their paying customers like…. paying customers.

    To add to the WIN, I own the games I payed for. No lousy five time install limit.

  19. Unruly says:

    Like I said, I wasn’t sure if they had changed that as I was going on hearsay. I just know that other games have had their SecuROM kept in place with the Steam release.

  20. MrKlorox says:

    That’s not true. It isn’t in Spore. And Far Cry 2 listed the activation limits weeks before the release. Whether or not it said SecuROM, I don’t recall.

  21. Azhrarn says:

    All recent releases on Steam are SecuROM free, Mass Effect even got Dev confirmation that it only used Steam DRM, nothing else. Similar for Spore.
    This had a downside though, Mass Effect DLC doesn’t work with the Steam version of Mass Effect at the moment because the DLC uses SecuROM to verify itself, but they’re fixing that and bringing it out as a Steam-patch as soon as possible.

  22. Austin_Lewis says:

    Except it’s a part of nearly every purchase you make (electronics wise, anyway), every contest or lottery you enter, and every service you solicit.

  23. Austin_Lewis says:

    He’s gonna find his wallet sore from all that rape six months after the announcement though.

    You see, in the fine print in most of those contracts that we all ignore when we download or buy a product (especially online) is a lovely little clause that says that the terms of the contract can change at any time.

  24. ShadowDragon28 says:

    But at least with 360 DLC, you can redownload anything you’ve already purchased, provided you still have the Gamertag the content is tied to.

  25. Moriarty70 says:

    This is just part of EA’s tack record. Remember their digital BS stated with Godfather and Maden on the 360? Content that was free and built into the PS2 versions were DLC at a cost of the 360 versions.

  26. MrKlorox says:

    It’s a fairly new practice. There’s a chance you bought your games before this was put into effect and therefore have the benefit of unlimited downloads without paying extra.

  27. DoggySpew says:

    I’m pretty sure that this is not accurate. I’ve redownload my games LONG after the 6 months standard download time had ended for installation on a new PC. Once downloaded, it remains registered.

    I think more accurately would be to say "6 months of last official notice of game" which means you just have to start up the EA Download Manager just so that EA sees your a installed game.

    If however, you uninstall your game and then wait 6 months, THEN you can’t re-install it.


  28. Unruly says:

    Actually, EA has kept SecuROM on all of its releases on Steam so far, or so I’ve heard, but that could have changed. Same with FarCry 2 and Bioshock(originally). Its not listing SecuROM on Mass Effect’s page for me right now, but neither did FarCry 2 or Bioshock when I first looked at them at release.

  29. KayleL says:

    Funny how this news was just brought up only a week after games from EA was put onto steam. I was so happy that I was willing to rebuy my copy of Mass Effect so I could have the Steam DRM instead of SecuROM.

  30. JC says:

    After reading the article, Ars Technica mentions its the service [Digital River] and not EA that offers this. However, I do agree it is a bleh practice that shouldn’t be followed but as always, some people will think this is a better option at certain times.


    Everyone, short of Nintendo are having troubles, but basically any large company will always attempt to squeeze money out of their paying customers when given the chance. Don’t think of companies as the type to care about the end-user being satisified, most don’t care about that and only want short-term profit or continuous revenue streams without having to spend much in the process.

  31. E. Zachary Knight says:

    If something has the potential to rival Steam, I would think it would be Stardock’s Impulse. It provides you a seemless way to view your download and purchase history, check news and updates for games you own or have shown an interest in. You can even lauch games you have installed through it.

    The best part is, it does not have to be running in order to play the games on your machine.

    Now if it had the ability to have match up and chat capabilties for its games, it would be awesome. That may happen or has already ahppened. I have not checked recently.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
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    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
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  32. GoodRobotUs says:


    Steam needs a rival, and EA have just destroyed any chance whatsoever of them providing it

    Really really stupid given their reputation for dodgy DRM.

  33. koichan says:

    On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being good

    Steam is a 9 or 10
    direct 2 drive is a 2
    EA is a 1 (possibly even 0)

    It really is quite stunningly bad

    not tried any of the others apart from those 3, but lets just say i now buy everything on steam given the chance

  34. Derovius says:

     Its not a sign of financial trouble, they are trying to sell and resell their products to wring the list few dollars out of their intellectual property. Anyone else disconcerted that EA is consistently failing? I think they are just pulling us along, making us think they are incompetent so they can save up enough $$$ to buy up all the other game developers.

  35. Alevan says:

    D: Damnit, I wish they would stop that. I really want The Sims 3 when it comes out next year. This is making me not want to purchase the game, completely…

    Then again, this only tells me that EA must be in a lot of financial trouble if they are going thorugh all this trouble to make a profit. It’s almost criminal.

    Amy Levandoski

  36. Vake Xeacons says:

     That’s not buying. That’s renting. 

    Since you can’t save the games to disc, you have to keep them on your hard drive permanently, or buy it again. Ridiculous. Which also means you can only download so many until your hard drive is full. 

    Another reason to boycott EA. Give em’ an inch…

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