EA Brings Back its Harsh Beta EULA

The Wooster

King Snap
Jul 15, 2008
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EA Brings Back its Harsh Beta EULA



According to the Sim City beta's EULA, failing to report a bug could get you banned from all EA games.

There was a time, believe it or not, when being a beta tester was considered a job. An awful job, the kind of job that survivors discuss in traumatized whispers, [http://trenchescomic.com/] but a job nonetheless. Now, thanks to the profound effects of hype and brand loyalty, developers have effectively tricked the great unhosed into doing that job for them. Even better, they've convinced us it's a privilege to do so. And what's a testing job without a terrifying amount of red tape?

The tape, in this case, is the Sim City beta's rather oddly worded EULA, which states that coming across a bug and failing to report it to EA is the same as abusing that bug, which could net you a ban from ALL EA games.

"It is your responsibility to report all known bugs, abuse of 'bugs', 'undocumented features' or other defects and problems related to the Game and Beta Software to EA as soon as they are found ('Bugs')."

Okay "undocumented features" made me laugh, but then things get a little sinister.

"If you know about a Bug or have heard about a Bug and fail to report the Bug to EA, we reserve the right to treat you no differently from someone who abuses the Bug. You acknowledge that EA reserve the right to lock anyone caught abusing a Bug out of all EA products."

You might remember that the same clause turned up in the EULA for the Battlefield 3 beta, and there were no reports of bans for simply failing to report a bug, no matter how nightmarish [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aE3zESmcqwA] the beta became. In fact, there's no real way for EA to track bug encounters. From the wording, my guess is it's meant to dissuade testers from trying to deliberately sabotage the final game, keep an advantageous glitch in the game or publicly disclose the bugs.

Still, this is a stark reminder of the kind of heavy-handed terms you're agreeing to when you click that "I accept" button.

Source: Ars Technica [http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2013/01/sim-city-beta-eula-includes-company-wide-ban-for-unreported-bugs/]



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Carnagath

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Apr 18, 2009
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That's nothing, I hear that in the future version of the EULA, EA reserves to right to track you down and murder your family if you don't playtest at least 10 hours a day.
 

Sylveria

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Nov 15, 2009
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So.. you want me to do your work for you at zero pay and if I happen upon a bug that I forget to report you are going to take all the games I've legally purchased from you away? Wonder how long till they start banning people who volunteer to be testers but don't playtest enough to meet their expectations of how much free work you should be doing. Or better yet, making compulsory playtesting part of the EULA whenever you buy any EA product and failure to test, even to test games you have zero interest in, will result in banning. Just more reasons to stay far, far away from EA branded products.

You know when they launch buggy, broken games cause people don't want to test out of very justified fear they'll blame poor sales on piracy instead of them putting out unfinished product.
 
Apr 5, 2008
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Well, that's a surefire way to keep testers away from EA products if ever there was one. They alienate gamers, hamstring their own products and now ensure that only the stupid will want to beta test their products, quite likely leading to buggier products in the future.

But can they actually lock people out of single player? Or just multi? With people getting locked out of their games for posting on their forums, it's not really surprising they'd do this. "Want to keep accessing what you've paid us for? Toe the line".
 

Tar Palantir

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Jan 16, 2012
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Is is even legal to ban you from all your PAID games for that??? If I were testing SimCity (for free, remember), I'd just disinstall and find something better to do with my time. In fact every one of them should quit until the EULA is modified.....now try to beta test your product on your own, idiots.
 

Paragon Fury

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Jan 23, 2009
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While this is a bit extreme I can understand where this is coming from. The non-reporting and keeping secret of bugs and exploits during Betas EA and their developers not having the knowledge and info needed to fix several annoying exploits before the launch of several games, Battlefield 3 and Crysis 2 included.
 

The Wooster

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Jul 15, 2008
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Well... it is possible that they could look into accounts/IPs that haven't submitted any bug reports and then ban them, isn't it?


Of course, that would just be plain idiotic. There are people who just don't run into bugs, due to any number of reasons, so banning them for that reason, and from all games no less, would be a terribly bad idea on EA's part. It is EA though, and if there is one thing I have learned, its that EA isn't above getting into pissing contests with other bad publisher/devs about how horrible they are towards their respective player bases.


Paragon Fury said:
While this is a bit extreme I can understand where this is coming from. The non-reporting and keeping secret of bugs and exploits during Betas EA and their developers not having the knowledge and info needed to fix several annoying exploits before the launch of several games, Battlefield 3 and Crysis 2 included.
That's assuming that there is no such thing as the developer not caring about bugs/exploits within the game? Or the probability of other players stumbling on said exploits/bugs?

Because that happens. The publishers get the big say on whether or not a game releases, and thus ultimately on the condition of the game at release. Knights of The Old Republic 2 was thrown out the door because of Publisher interest, while Obsidian wanted to continue working on the game. Others have actually made sweeping cuts to chunks of gameplay or maps, just because the publishers demanded it as a way of avoiding certain bugs that popped up during play testing.
 

Starke

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KingsGambit said:
Well, that's a surefire way to keep testers away from EA products if ever there was one. They alienate gamers, hamstring their own products and now ensure that only the stupid will want to beta test their products, quite likely leading to buggier products in the future.

But can they actually lock people out of single player? Or just multi? With people getting locked out of their games for posting on their forums, it's not really surprising they'd do this. "Want to keep accessing what you've paid us for? Toe the line".
It depends on the game. Kingdoms of Amalur (unless you bought it on Steam), Battlefield 3 and Mass Effect 3 can all be completely killed with an Origin ban. Most games they've made in the past few years can be semi-killed if the authentication server doesn't query back for your installed DLC, though I don't know if that actually locks you out of single player, or just locks your save games. And yes it will lock you out of your DLCs. Which in turn will effectively lock you out of your saves. "You have Zaeed because you bought new on the PC where you didn't have a choice otherwise? You're saves are ours now." And so on.

Also, any single player games cannot be reinstalled, because they'll die at the authentication step during install. Something we saw with the guy who got banned from DAO and DA2 because of a forum infraction.
 

Hero in a half shell

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Dec 30, 2009
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Paragon Fury said:
While this is a bit extreme I can understand where this is coming from. The non-reporting and keeping secret of bugs and exploits during Betas EA and their developers not having the knowledge and info needed to fix several annoying exploits before the launch of several games, Battlefield 3 and Crysis 2 included.
Yeah, this seems reasonable enough in context, if a little harsh. It's the risk you take when you pretty much agree to do what is actually an important part of the game development process without a proper legal contract because you technically aren't employed by EA. I'd say it's a deterrent, and they won't actually use this (although if they do start using it then that would be a different story altogether)
 

sid

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Jan 22, 2013
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I've been reading most articles here in the Escapist for a pretty long while, but this article made me register. Is EA's PR team legitimately masochistic? Seriously, they had no provocation to or benefit from doing this, I feel like somewhere inside EA's head there is a man who really, really hates what he has done with his life and is currently trying to blow it all sky-high for shits and giggles. My opinions of EA(along with pretty much everyone else's I'd say) is so bad at this point that when I read that recent article on Marvel Heroes costing 200 bucks for all of the initial goods in the game I automatically assumed it had something to do with EA (it doesn't). EA is slowly committing suicide.
 

l3o2828

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sid said:
EA is slowly committing suicide.
I sure hope it eventually pays off. This kind of bullshit is the sole proof we need to establish that EA has no business being alive in this industry.
 

sid

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Jan 22, 2013
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That's just what I'm saying though. A company so large and overseeing so many studios in the gaming industry SHOULD be a company in paradise, but they're deliberately sucking when they could make themselves into a wonderful company with very little effort. Hell, the gaming industry is the one place in the world where poking your ear out the window and listening to what the crowds want actually works, but they insist on alienating everyone and blatantly sucking money off of people without any apparent intention of getting a smile out of them.
 

Abomination

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Dec 17, 2012
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Okay, so... the best case scenario here is that EVERY beta tester reports EVERY bug they encounter.

Imagine that, if every single beta tester reported on every single bug they encountered, each and every one of them. How many duplicate bug reports would that be? Imagine if you're the poor soul working EA's Q&A department and your inbox looks like a constant stream of misspelled, hard to decipher walls of text explaining in intricate detail each and every issue those beta testers encountered, including false negatives.

And you have to read and respond to every one.

Congratulations, EA, in your effort to save costs you have just incurred MORE costs in manhours AND (once again) decimated your PR. And you wonder why you have to sell 3 million copies of Dead Space 3 to just break even on the game.
 

Nurb

Cynical bastard
Dec 9, 2008
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EA's new slogan... "EA: Are you pirating us yet?"

Seriously, I don't see why people willingly pay them money when they do nothing but demonstrate they shouldn't exist as a gaming company.
 

The Wooster

King Snap
Jul 15, 2008
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oooooh and just when people were starting to forget how much EA sucks.
Aaah well, they held for a while at least.