A Test For EA

I have had many times where I have just begged for EA to go back to it’s older ways of doing it’s own work, and making them good. The sad thing is that the last game that I was overly appreciative for by EA’s own doing (keep in mind, I’m not counting the good folks at DICE, just EA itself) was Need For Speed: High Stakes released in March of 1999. Since then, EA has become a major power-house, and made highly controversial (and even hated moves) such as acquiring my beloved Bullfrog Productions in 1995, and officially killing the studio in 2004.

Call me bitter, but I take a very cynical view with a hell of a lot of things related to EA. Warhammer Online? Not sure it’ll pan out, either by totalitarian methods of enforcing their EULA, by refusing to fix bugs that are detrimental to gameplay, or by requiring high-end systems so that no one with low-to-midrange hardware can play it.   Need For Speed: Undercover? Sure I’m as excited as a schoolgirl for it, but at the same time, I can’t help but hold in the pit of my stomach that somehow EA will manage to screw it up.

Now, to the main ‘test’ that I was talking about.  Most of the people I talk to have heard about the horrendous EA Link, and it’s replacement EA Downloader. Horrible software that just flat-out gave people headaches with DRM restrictions, etc. The new revision (third time’s the charm?) EA Download Manager has appeared and rather than trying to take on the superior Steam platform, it was toned down to just act as it sounds: A manager for EA Store purchases.

The downside is that the DRM crap is still there, which can potentially give problems. There are download time limits involved with it as well, which is never a good idea if you want your customers to come back. (Hey! I want to download my game again.. ooh, there’s something new too!)

With all that said, I decided to finally give them a try. This afternoon I was installing Battlefield 2142 in hopes of being able to play on a server with unlocked Titans. Ever since the huge problem involving titans melding together, I have yet to find a server that actually had them unlocked. Regardless, I also noticed that the Northern Strike expansion pack had dropped to ten dollars. I remember back with EA Link that it was pretty notorious for wanting to know exactly what you were running at the time, and after I found out that the system was replaced with a lighter method, I decided to give it a try.

Purchasing the expansion was easy enough. I was more frustrated when I was shown the strangely popular “Extended Download Service” that places like Digital River and what-not ‘offer’. Again, as I said above, I am quite curious why these companies don’t see the length of time and offering as an investment to bring their customers back, rather than severing them off from their purchased licenses.

Bought it, easy enough, and had it install through EA Download Manager. I will say that this is the one aspect that got me to (shamefully) exclaim out loud, “Woah”. I never expected any EA server, or service associated with EA to actually offer a decent speed. I saw surges of over 1.3MB/s, while it averaged out at just under 1MB/s.

After, I had the “woah” knocked out of me with a request to “activate” my purchase. Activate my purchase? What the hell? The ‘Unlock’ key is already registered to my Battlefield 2142 account, why would I need to activate it? If someone else where to TRY and use my purchase, they’d have no luck with it, considering that I have the permissions applied to my account, not theirs.

Activating was quick, but made me ask the obvious question: “Just how many times can I activate?” I’m sure there’s some sort of limit outlined in the Terms of Service or agreements, but let’s face the fact that all of that stuff is just a bunch of legaleze that no regular person would be able to read within a decent time frame.

We’ll see what happens after, EA. Hopefully this little test proves to be worthwile for your sake.

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