Some days ago I canceled my pre-order of the Battlefield 3 Limited edition for Windows PCs. It was a reaction on the news that the game would ship without ingame server browser, which had been replaced by a server browser in an external web browser.
This meant that you had to keep Origin, the distribution platform running in the background, the web browser to select a game and the game itself. Changing servers meant to close down the game, select a new match and server in the web browser to start the game anew.
While I have not tried the system yet, I'd say that it is less practicable than a built-in functional server browser (to be honest, not a single server browser of a Battlefield game was that, but that's another story).
Back in the good old games of gaming, I would have probably bought the game anyway. Today, I want to make a stand against all the "features" that hurt legit customers. That's one of the reasons why I did not buy From Dust, even though I would really like to play the game. I also skipped the Modern Warfare series ever since its developers started to drop dedicated server support.
It now came to light that Origin, EA's new online distribution system (not to mix up with the classic game developer that EA bought and killed), adds another issue that could convince some gamers not to use that system. Users who sign up need to accept the EULA which gives EA massive rights to collect, use, save and transfer user data. It reads under (2):
You agree that EA may collect, use, store and transmit technical and related information that identifies your computer (including the Internet Protocol Address), operating system, Application usage (including but not limited to successful installation and/or removal), software, software usage and peripheral hardware, that may be gathered periodically to facilitate the provision of software updates, dynamically served content, product support and other services to you, including online services. EA may also use this information combined with personal information for marketing purposes and to improve our products and services. We may also share that data with our third party service providers in a form that does not personally identify you. IF YOU DO NOT WANT EA TO COLLECT, USE, STORE, TRANSMIT OR DISPLAY THE DATA DESCRIBED IN THIS SECTION, PLEASE DO NOT INSTALL OR USE THE APPLICATION.
Gamers either have to accept that EA may collect, use, store and transmit data like their computer's IP address, software, application usage and hardware, or they may not install or use the application.
EA may furthermore transfer the data in anonymized form to third party companies. Rock Paper Shotgun puts it this way:
And then even more creepily, they say they intend to take such information, combine it with personal information about you, and use it to advertise directly to you. However, when selling on this free-for-all on your computer’s contents, they’ll at least remove personally identifying information. Gosh, thanks.
The site furthermore compares EA's clause with a comparable Steam clause and comes to the conclusion that Valve's "policy is self-restricted to anything on your PC directly relating to its own products" while EA's is "so broad that it gives the publisher permission to scan your entire hard drive, and report back absolutely anything you may have installed, and indeed when you may use it, and then pass that information on the third parties".
If I would not already have canceled Battlefield 3, I would now.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.