MASSIVE entertainment organisations continue to grow and expand exponentially so it’s little surprise that occasionally, or not so occasionally as the case may be, that the likes of you and I are swept aside as if we were never even the tiniest of pawns in their global market game.
EA, the name of the company alone will provide mixed reactions among gamers the world over, some will no doubt praise many of their countless titles over the years and others will come in on the side of having an unrelenting hatred for them after being treated terribly despite being loyal throughout those same years. Both of these reactions are appropriate where I’m concerned.
I’ve loved so many games the company have produced over the years, chief among them the likes of Medal of Honour titles on the Playstation 2 and the FIFA series of which I have played since as far back as 2001/2002. It’s with this franchise that the problem lies and where I bore witness to some truly disgusting behaviour, despite always thoroughly enjoying the games and playing them year-in, year-out.
The introduction of the Ultimate Team game mode in FIFA 09 brought both unprecedented wealth to the sports division of the company, aptly named EA Sports, but also a set of dangers I never thought I would find myself very much on the wrong side of. In a mode where micro-transactions and a ‘pay to win’ mentality both reign supreme, I always played in a way I’m sure a lot of people would have also done, essentially not conducting these micro-transactions in order to further my progress within the game by means of the strength of my wallet as opposed to my prowess on the virtual pitch.
In addition to this I never once broke the Terms of Service that come along with playing a mode where interaction with others is nigh-on inescapable, whether that be buying or selling players from or to others or playing matches against them online. Not according to EA though, who in June 2014 decided to ban my account which had been involved with Ultimate Team since its conception and thus my faith in them has been irreparably shattered, despite having made new accounts in order to continue playing the mode on FIFA 14 at the time and now the latest instalment, FIFA 15.
Convicted of ‘coin farming’ which to this day I couldn’t give you a true definition of as I’ve never participated in it, the account was banned and despite numerous appeals the robotic, corporate monster that is EA would not yield and accept that they had made a mistake. Now perhaps I’m somewhat foolish for continuing to invest time and money into a franchise and an organisation that have done me such a disservice, but why walk away from something you love?
Whilst this might all seem like quite the example of sending out mixed messages, my view is simply one of taking extreme caution with things of this nature. Never again will I get too comfortable in a situation whereupon the legality of my actions within a virtual environment can suddenly be brought not only into question via a warning of some kind, but an outright ban from a service I had thoroughly enjoyed for years despite having committed no offence whatsoever.
It starkly underlines the powerlessness of the individual against a company such as EA when they are able to wield the fabled ‘Ban Hammer’ at their leisure, be careful out there gamers.