Mentioning Worst Company In America In EA Forum Is Apparently A Terms Of Service Violation

Last night, Electronic Arts beat up Sony in their first-round Worst Company In America fight, much in the same way your average 9-year-old makes me look silly playing Madden NFL. But one reader says that his post in a Sims forum about EA’s involvement in WCIA got him a warning slap from the company.

Marty says he had long been a fan of the Sims, which is published by EA, but that the company’s “greed completely ruined the franchise with overpriced downloadable content, and releasing stuff packs and expansion packs with minimal content.”

Thing is, he didn’t even say anything that mean-spirited when he went onto the Sims forum for the first time in months to post a message about WCIA.

Here is what Marty posted:

Every year during the NCAA playoffs, The Consumerist has their own competition whereas they have the worst companies in America competing against each other for the grand prize. EA made the competition this year, and currently they are whipping Sony by 81 per cent to 19 percent. Tells you what most people think of EA when they are consider worse than a company as bad as Sony. Can’t wait to see who they will face in the next bracket. Don’t forget to vote…. Oh, and of course, congratulations to EA and JR. Can’t think of a more deserving team.

We added the italics in the above quote to highlight the section of the post that apparently set off alarm bells at EA, because not long after Marty wrote this statement did he get an e-mail letting him know that the section in italics had violated the forum’s Terms of Service.

Why? It appears that the mention of “J.R.,” a reference to company CEO John Riccitiello, counts as “Flaming of EA Employee.” Marty was warned that further violations could lead to additional action.

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  1. Fineous K. Douchenstein says:

    I think the warning was deserved. The forums for a game don’t need that kind of flame-baiting. The mention of the WCIA tournament wasn’t the problem. Calling out EA and their CEO on the forum was asinine.

    • Jawaka says:

      I agree. Those forums are EA’s to promote and support EA products. Its their home. Who wants someone coming into their home and talking shit about them? It may be true but its very disrespectful and worthy of a warning or a ban IMO.

    • BobOki says:

      As much as I hate EA I also have to agree. While the comment itself was not horrible, just making it in the first place was in poor taste and had no place in the sims forums.

      True or not, it did not belong there.

      • kujospam says:

        What section did he post it in? General Discussion? Because that generally means anything is allowed. That would be EAs fault for having one when they don’t really mean anything.

    • PsychoRaven says:

      Yup. As much as I think EA is a disgusting anti-consumer company the guy crossed a line.

      • Twonkey says:

        I keep reading that EA is anti-consumer all over the place, but not really being in the loop as far as video-game industry goings on…goes, I’d definitely appreciate it if someone could elaborate on that for me. I just have no context whatsoever.

    • midtower says:

      You all should really go visit EA’s forums…. it appears you’ve either not visited them or it’s simply been a very long time since having visited.

      You will find Marty’s WCIA post to be quite mild in comparison.

      Here…. as an appetizer, go visit the General Discussion related to Origin:
      http://forum.ea.com/eaforum/forums/show/4124.page

  2. dolemite says:

    That’s the thing about company forums…they can ban you or remove posts for any reason, at any time. The thing with EA though, is *sometimes* they also ban you from your games (through Origin) you’ve paid for when they don’t like your forum posts.

  3. caradrake says:

    If you come into my house and talk bad about me, I can ask you to leave my house.

    I see nothing wrong with a company doing the same on their forum.

  4. Fast Eddie Eats Bagels says:

    I’ve read multiple stories on folks getting perma banned on the EA forums which results in you also getting a perma ban on all EA games online. Not sure if true or confirmed but it would suck to not play any EA games online because of a EA forum ban. One example I read was a guy getting banned from the EA BF3 forums and not being able to play online via xbox live and also not being able to play his Madden and Fifa online as well.

    • VintageLydia says:

      It’s true. Happened to an acquaintance of mine.

      • Fast Eddie Eats Bagels says:

        Did they have any luck fighting it?

        • VintageLydia says:

          Nope. All their perma-bans are absolutely final with no recourse. Funny thing is, she was banned at the forums years ago, but it wasn’t until a few months ago it included a ban from Origin. Her original ban was pre-Origin but she still used that account to make purchases, etc. It used to only be a ban from the forums. Also, ban from one forum is a ban from every other forum. She still plays the games–she works in the industry–and she doesn’t really seem too upset by it now.

    • BigDragon says:

      I will confirm your story. I’m one of those people who got hit with a BF3 ban in January this year that was EA account-wide. Every game requiring an EA or Origin account would not function after the ban. I was given all sorts of ridiculous reasons ranging from unexplained misconduct to a system glitch. It took a solid week of fighting with the executive level support people to get the ban reversed. I was offered half a dozen discounts and 2 free games after the episode, but I declined because the experience was so bad it’s just not worth it to invest any more time in EA games.

      • TheCorporateGeek Says Common Sense Is The Key says:

        I too got involved in the mass banning that Dice performed. I purchased another copy of the game and was back in business sans my original stats which were decent but not amazing. I submitted a BBB complaint against EA wanting a refund of my second purchase. I was contacted by a nice young woman in Austin who gladly gave me a refund on the second purchased copy and then Dice reinstated some of the accounts that were unfairly banned so now I have two accounts I can play on using the same copy.

        While it took a BBB complaint to do this, I don’t fault EA as it was the developers (Dice) who did this. Happy customer because of this.

        Personally I don’t see how EA is a worse company than Sony……..at least my information hasn’t been hacked…….twice and multiplayer hasn’t been shut down……twice. Sony’s evil and I won’t own one of their products.

  5. Grogey says:

    I want simcity 5 but origin scares. Me I might try and see if it will come through steam. With this little stunt I think EA has become my WCIA target.

    • Karney says:

      It won’t. EA removed all its games from Steam and only sell them exclusively through origin.

      • Applekid ‚îÄ‚îÄ‚î¨ Ôªø„Éé( „Çú-„Çú„Éé) says:

        Even if you already bought it? I guess I’m going to try out the “Backup Game” option pretty soon.

        Like any good backup, I’ve also gotta test that it works restoring, but I don’t wanna risk deleting my many Sim Cities. :(

      • Kuri says:

        Not completely. I can stil lget Crysis on Steam.

    • dolemite says:

      I wanted Kingdoms of Amalur (and to a lesser extent BF3), but I’m not installing Origin. I barely trust Steam. I’m not installing 10 different programs that scan my computer and send contents back to EA while simultaneously giving up the rights to the games I purchase. Steam already had a data breach. For each program/service you use, the chances go up for data breaches/account compromise.

      Playing computer games is getting to be an onerous hobby, as customers are treated like criminals, and the expense goes up and up.

  6. Jacob says:

    I voted for Sony in the last round because of all their security lapses, but you can bet I’ll vote for EA in the next round just because of this.

    • Jawaka says:

      How about I come to your home and talk crap about you and your family? And when you get angry at me for doing so and ask me to leave I’ll just complain and say that you’re a lousy host? I don’t see the difference here.

      • Excuse My Ambition Deficit Disorder says:

        It’s a bit difficult to live in a forums…how about that for a difference. Do you open your house to complete strangers and let them write all over your walls? I don’t see anything that would be considered to be flaming in his statement. It was all true so there’s no defamation…so your analogy is a bit stinky

        • Jawaka says:

          Not really. I allow people into my home with the expectation that they’re respect me.

          Perhaps we live in different worlds but I find that coming into someone’s home and suggesting that people nominate that person for a Poo of the Year award to be very disrespectful.

          And of course people don’t write on my walls in my home, they communicate with me face to face. Now THAT was the stinky analogy.

      • Kuri says:

        Well, I would say the big difference is people pay money to EA for a product/service and kind of feel they can give negative feedback if they’re dissatisfied with said product/server.

        With some of the attitudes I see I just get “Don’t like the service? Then keep your mouth shut and like it”

        • Jchamberlain says:

          Kuri makes a good point, EA is taking the money of these consumers. They should toughen up and learn to improve by taking the criticism. I know times have changed, but sometimes, the customer is right. To those of you comparing it to him coming in your house and criticizing you, it would be ok with me if you charged him to come in, and then gave him a public forum to discuss his visit. Don’t give your customers a crappy deal and a soapbox to complain about it, then act like The Soviet Union and censor what they say.

      • babbottnz says:

        Your home is not a business. Your home doesn’t have a system designed for collaboration accessible to millions of people. Websites aren’t created specifically tell the world how much you suck. There is no open voting on the internet on how much of a terrible person you and/or your family are.

        In saying that, if you were such a horrible person that people were adding you to a voting system on who is more horrible person… it is likely that you would receive items such as hate mail to your home via mailbox or email. If I purchased an item from you and you took my money, I would expect use of that item. I would not anticipate you to keep my money and withhold the item because I mentioned your placement in a voting system. And if you did so, you should not expect me to feel positive about such an interaction.

        I expect that a company be ab

  7. CubeRat says:

    I’m evil. I just thought of a great way to get back at my ex…..

    • Dieflatermous says:

      Because identity theft culminating in monetary loss is absolutely the smartest way to soothe your little fee-fees, and not actionable by law at all.

  8. Sarahlara says:

    Throughout the years I’ve seen a lot of people complain they weren’t allowed to bad mouth a product (or laud its competitor) on that company’s website. Many feel their comments should fall under free speech, which is of course a principle not extended to a private website like that.

    Simply, the company is hosting the site, and it doesn’t want to pay to house your critiques.
    There are other websites for that very reason, thankfully. (Like this one)

  9. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDave‚Ñ¢ says:

    Actually, it would seem, to me at least, telling people to “go and vote” would be the “flaming” part. Seeing as he hasn’t been on in months, and this was apparently a post, and not a comment/reply in an existing post, I can understand their actions.

    • Excuse My Ambition Deficit Disorder says:

      If EA said ” go and vote” was promoting a 3rd party website which breaks the agreement…than I agree with EA. For them to warn of a ban or ban him for the WCIA; then you know they are acknowledging their bad business behavior as they know what the meaning of the golden poo award is and don’t want to win it.

  10. Pelonis says:

    And again attention all media companies of the world: This is another common example of why a lot of people, who normally are law abiding, pirate games and other media.

    I bought a game almost a year ago that was suppose to be offline but instead it required me to be logged in constantly in order to play, and that was the last time I purchased from that game maker (and any others who follow the same requirement).

    When a game is single player, I will not tolerate a requirement of constant internet connection to play (MMO’s are a different situation obviously). I buy games for my laptop in order to be able to play while being unchained from my desktop and internet connection. During spring and summer I like to go to a nearby park and sit on the picnic table in the fresh air and play games. During the colder months I find other places but still like to be unchained to wifi.

    My playstation is gathering dust because I don’t buy games for it anymore. Why? Because one day my internet went out and I wanted to play my roommates new game Batman Arkham City and the stupid console wanted an internet connection in order to verify my cd code or something like that. I ended up taking my laptop to Starbucks and playing EVE online like I really wanted to anyway.

    • Twonkey says:

      Fuck no. People pirate for a whole lot of reasons, but no, this particular issue isn’t a valid one. Hell, it’s not even actually much of a reason at all, really. It’s just something to latch onto and point at when you need to lend your actions a semblance of legitimacy, and well, bullshit is bullshit is bullshit and all that.

      If there’s a single justification that doesn’t completely smell like self-delusional bullshit, it’s that those of us who buy our games typically have to deal with DRM that’s often intrusive or crippling, yet pirates do not.

      • vdragonmpc says:

        No you are simply wrong. Many people do it because you will find out the hard way several months or years down the road when you go to install the game that the certificate servers have been shut down or your game has been replaced with a newer year version (EA sports comes to mind)

        By the way we are not talking about console games.

      • red says:

        No, I actually pirate games and stuff because I prefer to not keep a giant stack of CD-ROMs by my computer, make sure they don;t get scratched, or makes sure I keep all their stupid long serial numbers. I also don’t like dealing with broken games when I get a new computer or move. A game is a game. In 50 years, I can play any board game I own. In 50 years, I should be able to play any video game I own (assuming I have system that can play it)

  11. Traveller says:

    Kind of goes with their strong showing in the voting, but

    “Don’t mess with Gamers” and especially “Don’t come between a Gamer and his Game”

    EA should learn a little from this. Maybe they could address the underlying problems and not worry so much about people being critical in their forums. Just take the posts down and be done with it.

  12. markvii says:

    Sounds incredibly petty on EA’s part. I’d hardly call it “flaming”. Sounds like EA deserves what’s happening to them.

  13. do-it-myself says:

    That counts as a flame? Wow, somebody didn’t see the internet circa 2000.

  14. vliam says:

    This should improve their performance in the bracket.

  15. cspschofield says:

    Oh, please, punish me for badmouthing the CEO. I’ll cost you millions by ridiculing you for it if you do. You’ll have to change your name.

  16. axiomatic says:

    LOL stay classy EA… fail-boat.

  17. Quatre707 says:

    Don’t ever trust a game designer or publisher’s official forums. Here are three examples of how evil EA is when it comes to forums:

    I was recently banned from both Bioware’s and EA’s origin Mass Effect 3 forum without e-mail notification for expressing my dissatisfaction and disbelief that the PC version lacks game-pad support, even when the demo FAQ still lists the Xbox 360 controller for Windows as supported.

    During the two weeks following the Star Wars The Old Republic release, moderators were deleting (not locking) any threads which made them look bad – even if it was customers trying to help each other with patching problems.

    During the launch period of Battlefield 3 moderators were mass deleting any posts complaining about the difficulties of using browser plug-ins to launch the game client.

    • axiomatic says:

      There’s more.

      For Battlefield 3, DICE has ALWAYS had an excellent presence with their consumers. Patches were usually created based off of interaction with their customers.

      Not anymore… its to the point that users are holding game play “walk out” days until EA relents and lets DICE interact with their consumer base.

      The problem is flat out EA.

    • Jawaka says:

      Wow so companies don’t like people coming to their own websites and criticizing their products?

      Tell me more.

      • VintageLydia says:

        Completely scrubbing legitimate complaints (like issues with patches) is absolutely a problem with the company. It looks far better for the company to answer to those complaints and, if warranted, apologize and let them know you’ll fix it. Often the forums are the only way for a company to know about widespread bugs in their software (especially EA who doesn’t really beta-test. The purchaser IS the beta-tester.)
        What was posted by the OP I’d consider borderline–I used to frequent that forum and saw far far worse posted without consequences. I can agree with you if the poster is just coming to openly flame the company without even bringing up legitimate issues.

    • GadgetsAlwaysFit says:

      The interesting part is that on the Sony forums, they seem to let all comments stand, even the ones that trash either Sony or the game. EA does look much worse here by comparison.

  18. DrLumen says:

    To be fair, it may have been an overly zealous forum mod that had an axe to grind. I’m not sure about the Sims forum but most of their forums that I have seen have volunteer mods.

    • VintageLydia says:

      The mods can usually move, lock, and delete threads and comments but they don’t ban. That’s usually left to a customer service team as a result of a post being reported by another user. It can be a huge problem because trolls will often post something to provoke a reaction, but is just barely within the confines of the TOS, then report the responses for “flaming.” The CS people don’t always check for context so the responder may find themselves with a warning or ban. Remember that the TS3 forums are populated with younger teenagers through grandparents so not everyone is familiar with the old adage “don’t feed the trolls” so I have a tough time blaming them for reacting to the provocation.

      Sorry if I double post. Consumerist gave me an error and I did reload to check but, well, this is consumerist :/

  19. exconsumer says:

    “But this doesn’t fall under freedom of speech because it’s a private website!”

    . . . and that’s the best we can expect or ask for from these people? I just don’t think that good enough. Banning people from your forums, your huge huge forums that you knew would be used by thousands for many subjects . . . and thereby banning them from your products? No, not good enough. No need to frame an argument about freedom of speech, just grow up, get over your hurt feelings.

    And, furthermore, you’re only part of the WCIA because you’re behaving badly in the first place. People notice when you do that. The era where you get to do whatever you want and do it in secret is over. So behave.

  20. Kuri says:

    I get the feeling EA was just scared of the bad publicity being in such a competition might bring.

  21. Mozz says:

    Somewhere around here i have a cease and desist letter because i posted something on a Dell forum that was completely true about one of their speakers made by Altec Lansing. A very lot of these companies have spies watching the forums and anything bad is often deleted. A good run board would just lock the thread. I actually hope this makes them get further in the running for worst company.

  22. Kestris says:

    EA’s ‘support’ is nonexistant.

    While I agree that yes, he shouldn’t have named names, so to speak, EA has a piss poor track record when it comes to support and fixing bugs/glitches in Sims. There’s a bug in World Adventures (Sims 3) that is still not fixed, 10 expansions and stuff packs later.

    I spent 40 minutes in their ‘Live Chat’, and even though it said I was ready to chat with so and so, that person never said a single word. They disconnected the live chat themselves after 40 minutes of no comments from them. Luckily I’d already found the answer to my question elsewhere, 15 minutes in. but they wasted my time, so I wasted theirs by not closing the chat myself.

  23. VashTS says:

    People are saying forums are supposed to never criticize the company that own the forums….really?

    If there is a problem with a game, I shall not bring it up…isn’t that what happened on wall-street, in our government; in our Armed Forces; Police Force. We look the other way and smile then the problem continues and gets worst. Stop it please mindless drones. Forums shall not point out game issues or patch issues or companies grand master plan. I criticize gays I am hated and considered a bigot; I criticize government, I am anti-American. I openly support my religion, I should keep my mouth shut and keep it to myself.

    POINTS: Me=1 and the 90% of consumerist posters=0.

  24. clydesplace says:

    There is often a lot of criticism of EA’s handling of the Sims (like many of their other games) and the complaints have become so numerous that I couldn’t even begin to go into all of them here. And most of those complaints often showed up on the Sims 3 forums, and for the most part completely ignored by EA. The Sims Franchise used to be about a community and creativity, such as writing stories and making videos, and modding which enabled users to make the game what they wanted it to be, not what EA wants it to be which is just a tool to sell more way overpriced content from their store.

    Did I say overpriced? One room of furniture can cost you $20 or more. These were things that used to be included in the game. But I suppose the ridiculous profit margins from what they sell at the store help make up for the loss of customers.

    This is not the first time EA has been criticized on their forums. And I’m also of the opinion that many but not all gamers have gotten what they deserved because they just put up with this nonsense and buy EA;s stuff anyway.

    But I always like to think consumers will finally get tired of their nonsense. Here is a company whose revenues keep rising but year after year they still lose millions, even when they have one or two profitable quarters mixed in. It’s the same story every year.

    (http://www.neoseeker.com/news/16366-electronic-arts-q4-profits-rise-on-million-seller-sequel-lineup/) John Riccitiello must have one heck of a severance package as he’s done nothing but piss of his customers and lose money. Are they the worse Company in America? Maybe not. On the other hand when it comes to consumers, they just may be the worse gaming company ever.

  25. No Fat Chicks says:

    I called EA tech support only to discover that they couldn’t speak English very well in India.
    That caused me to stop buying EA products for the last 15 years.

  26. daynight says:

    I am not clear about the boundaries here. It is really because a CEO’s name was used that the company is reacting? A corporation is a legal entity, though one without independent consciousness or volition. The CEO is supposed to direct and lead the corporation in its decision making. If this CEO is effective in his job, then he is responsible for policy and action of the company. Is it any wonder that a person would conflate the company and its leader / brain / consciousness / conscience?
    I can see they this company doesn’t like to be criticized. What I don’t know anything about is how or if the company is doing anything to change what appears to be a very widespread view of the company being one of the worst.

  27. SilentAgenger says:

    My last straw with EA was when they secured a monopoly with the NFL…basically using a giant pile of cash to eliminate their competitors so they would no longer have to actually COMPETE with them (989 Sports was putting out a [arguably] superior NFL game up to that point).

  28. VectorVictor says:

    People seem to forget here that a ban on EA’s forums extends to being banned from playing the games you’ve already paid for, thanks to EA’s DRM and everything being rolled into Origin.

    It’s one thing to be banned from the company’s forum for speaking your mind–it’s another to be locked out of the very games you’ve already paid for.

  29. Press1forDialTone says:

    He did not cross the line. Let us remember who is the product/service
    provider and who is the product/service consumer okay? We -choose-
    to pay money to EA to provide a product or service. it is up to them to
    do that in the most consumer-friendly way possible. If we weren’t so
    messed up that we couldn’t do without EA’s product/service because
    they suck providing it, then large scale boycotts would work. In the case
    of EA’s product it is unique to the company or nearly unique within
    a class of products/services. That is why they can jack us around, there
    is no real competition for -that- product/service.

    The reference to ‘JR’ is vague it could have meant John Rutabaga.
    It just underscores the point that there are real problems at EA and
    this type of behavior is paranoiac. They need to focus focus focus on
    fixing the problems instead of being so trigger-happy to bash a customer.

    There was no direct unambiguous reference to an EA employee. The
    people who made that stupid decision within the company are probably
    incompetent business majors and they are clearly in the majority.

    Fill in the blank: In college, I attended the ____________ School of Bigness.