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So I just saw this post over at Shamus’ site… I don’t know what the heck to say except that I see this as the death knell of gaming.

What am I talking about? Well, here’s a little tidbit of information from an EA representative:

Your forum account will be directly tied to your Master EA Account, so if we ban you on the forums, you would be banned from the game as well since the login process is the same. And you’d actually be banned from your other EA games as well since its all tied to your account. So if you have SPORE and Red Alert 3 and you get yourself banned on our forums or in-game, well, your SPORE account would be banned to. It’s all one in the same, so I strongly reccommend people play nice and act mature…

Those banned will stay banned, but like most other internet services, its not that hard to create a new fake e-mail account. However, its a lot harder to get a new serial key =)

As Shamus says, “That smiley is the grin of someone that knows they have hundreds of dollars of your software they’re holding hostage.” Indeed. That’s a great smiley face for them, and a huge 500-pt bolded and italicized angry face for everyone else.

Just as a simple example of how this policy could very easily “go wrong” (not that there’s anything much “right” about it in the first place): When Unreal Tournament 3 was released, the game’s forums were literally flooded with complaints about the game’s [horrible] user interface. At some point, the forum’s moderators decided that complaints about the user interface were flooding the forums and disrupting the ability of other conversations, such as bugs and gameplay concerns, to exist. So what ended up happening was that all posts about the User Interface ended up getting removed. This confused or upset some people, so they posted again. Guess what happened then? They got banned.

With all of the controversy over Spore’s DRM, I’d be surprised if this hasn’t happened already. I know I personally would have loved to buy Spore, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to put up with the DRM they crippled the thing with. When I buy a game, I want to own the game, not cross my fingers and hope EA lets me play it. I know for a fact there are people who’ve bought this game, clicked through all the EULA agreements, and didn’t even know about the DRM of this game. So what happens if they go on EA’s forums and make a little post where they may be upset about the DRM — And let’s say, for the sake of argument, that EA’s moderators behave like Epic’s did and start removing complaints about a dead-horse issue (the user interface, or the digital rights management) and banning people who ignore that policy.

Well, getting banned from forums is nothing to scoff at if you’re the kind of person who likes to offer constructive criticism of a product you’ve paid for. But getting banned from forums is quite a different order of magnitude from getting banned from the games you’ve paid for. Totally unbelievable, and no doubt we are going to see every software company move towards this totalitarian integration and EULA in a few years. I’m really thinking about picking up another copy of GalCiv II right about now.

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