You know, I used to love Electronic Arts. There was a time in my younger days where seeing their name emblazoned on a PC game box as I wandered the aisles of Electronics Boutique was all I needed to see to buy it. I can still remember the scrolling colors through the big "E C A" on my Commodore 64 as I anxiously waited for Bards Tale or Racing Destruction set to load. Ah…the good old days.
Sadly, that warm and fuzzy feeling is long gone, and over the years I've come to dislike just about everything about EA and what they've become. My most recent foray into the mess that is EA has killed any nostalgia I had for them. Let's walk through the fun.
I love the BattleField series of games, and have been an avid fan of them ever since the days of BF 1942. Some of my best memories of LAN parties were BF 1942. Whether it was driving like mad in a Jeep from one end of Wake Island to the other to try to stop a flag capture, or jumping into a T-34 in Kursk, it was about as much fun as I can recall having with a video game. Over the years I've picked up most of the BF incarnations and when Battlefield 3 came out, I picked up a copy on release day for my XBox. I generally like playing games on PC's over consoles, especially First Person Shooters, but I had a few friends that were playing on XBox and we all wanted to jump in and play together. Even though I'm awful using the controller to play, we had a blast, but after a few months we stopped playing.
Fast forward to the other day and the PcPer crew decides they want to play BF3 after the recent podcast. I definitely can't pass up the option to get in on some Battlefield goodness, so even though I've already forked over $60 for the game and another $20 for the first expansion pack to EA on my XBox, I'm stuck with having to buy another copy of the game, just so I can play on a different platform. Off to Amazon and another $35 funnels into EA's coffers. Two hours and a 10 GB download later the install starts and up comes…
Ugh…Origin…really? I can understand why EA wants its own online game distribution system, but c'mon! I already have a ton of games through Steam and everything works without a hitch. Origin is a mess and I've had nothing but problems with it in the past. I dislike using it so much that I won't buy a game if I know I have to install and use Origin to play.
But I digress. I've already thrown another $35 at EA and we're going to play tonight, so I guess I'll just deal with it. Hoping to fire it up and get my keybindings setup and a little bit of practice in I double click on the BF3 icon and a browser window opens. What in the heck? A browser? Where's the game? I close the browser figuring something is wrong, double click on the game icon again and up pops the browser. Jeezalou. I struggle for a few minutes trying to remember my ID and password for EA's site and when I finally do get in I'm looking at my stats page for my soldier. My soldier on the XBox. Clicking through the menus I vainly try to find a button that will let me launch the game when I notice a little drop down arrow under my Soldier name that says "BF3 XBOX". Click on that and there's "BF3 PC". Seriously? I have to start over and lose all my unlocks? My google-fu finds that there's no way to merge the two, because apparently EA doesn't understand the concept of a shared database.
Regardless, I eventually find a button labeled "Quick Match" and here we go…
Holy batsnots, seriously? In this day and age, I can't play a AAA title video game on my PC because my default browser is 64-bit? Good lord! I really don't want to change my default browser just to play this game, so I end up having to fire up a 32 bit version of Internet Explorer, copy and paste the link into that just so I can try to launch the game. Error message doesn't pop up, but now I apparently need a few plugins. At this point I had to replace my keyboard as the head bashing knocked a few keys off. Once I get all the plugins installed I click on the "Quick Match" button again and…
Holy Panzerfaust! There's only 3 servers for the base game without expansions that actually have people on them. After clicking on all 3 of them multiple times, being put in queues and getting timeout messages, finally one goes through and up comes the game.
I get about an hour of game time in and have as much fun as could be expected being a Level 1 Soldier with no unlocks against a bunch of Level 45 Colonels. I bet I'm going to need the expansion packs to play more though. I don't want to fight with the rest of the goobers that don't have any expansions over a handful of slots on 3 servers. Of course, it's easy to find the "Buy!" button and I find there's been 5 expansion packs. I can buy them for $20 each, or spend $50 and get all of them. Well, Mama didn't raise no dummies, and I'd much rather pay $10 an expansion pack than $20, so I spring for the $50 and we're now at a grand total of $165 that I've spent to play this one game. Just peachy…
I click on the $50 "Battlefield Premium" pack, walk through the purchase and choose PayPal as my purchase method, put in my PP ID/PW and hit "Pay Now".
Sadah Fingah! Before I finish my string of curses, Outlook pops up with a new Email Alert, "Receipt for your Payment to Elecronic Arts". Well, apparently the billing system didn't crash because they pulled the money from my PayPal account. I fire Origin back up and guess what? C'mon, I'm pretty sure you know what's going to happen…I didn't have the Premium pack/expansions. Oh EA, you are a cruel mistress!
I spent a few moments contemplating how much easier and enjoyable life was when I just plugged Yar's Revenge into my 2600, hit the power button and started playing.
Once I finished my musings I start looking through the Origin client in the hopes that there was some sort of help available. Clicking through a menu or two I find, "Live Chat". Alright, time to bring someone else into my misery. After a few minutes I'm connected and…
You are now ready to chat with Haninder.
Haninder: Thanks for contacting EA Help! My name is Haninder how may I help you?
you: Hey there. I just purchased Battlefield 3 Premium using Paypal.
you: Origin crashed just as I payed for it. I've been billed through paypal, but it's not showing up in Origin.
Haninder: Hello there.
<60 Second Pause>
you: Ah, Hello
Haninder: Let us see what can be done to fix our issue.
Haninder: You're welcome.
Haninder: May i have your email id through which you have placed the order?
Haninder: Thank you for providing email id.
Haninder: Would you mind holding for a minute or two while I retrieve your account in our database?
<2 Minute Wait>
Haninder: Thank you for waiting. I appreciate your patience.
<1 Minute Wait>
Haninder: I have checked and found that your order is not placed.
Haninder: Please try ordering it again.
you: I have the paypal Transaction ID, I was already charged $53.36
Haninder: Okay, do not worry, the money you has been charged will be returned back to you within 4-5 business working days.
Haninder: The order is not been placed and you have charged for it.
you: How will you refund the money to me if it's not in your systems?
you: I have been charged for it. $53.36 is no longer in my Paypal balance.
Haninder: Sometimes it happen that the order is not fully placed and you are been charged and the money in between comes into hold. In that case where transaction is not fully settles, the amount is returned back to you.
Haninder: Please contact your Bank and you will get all the information of the transaction.
Haninder: You can place your order again.
you: Thanks, but I think I'll wait for the refund first. Thanks for the help.
So, EA's answer was for me to send them another $50 and hope that the money would magically reappear in my PayPal account, even though they had no record of me ever paying them. Yeah, I'd sooner light my wallet on fire. I go downstairs and have a beer (or two) and come back up an hour or so later to see if I can get the Campaign working when lo and behold, Origin starts downloading the Premium/Expansion packs.
Needless to say, I think Battlefield 3 is the last Battlefield I get to play unless Dice jumps ship, because I'm done dealing with EA and their "Origin".