EA, never the most beloved of America’s gaming companies, made a major goof yesterday: they sent a message to players of the iOS version of Rock Band that the game would shut down on May 31st, flat-out denying the app to thousands of players who’d paid $4.99 for it. As you might expect, reactions were almost universally negative, including our own. EA has now recanted that particular message, saying that “Rock Band for iOS will remain live – the in-app message users received yesterday was sent in error.” Sure, guys, sure – we’re just glad you’ve seen sense.
The message was sent along with an update FAQ stating that EA was closing down the support (i.e. the servers selling additional songs) to focus on other mobile games. This was little comfort to those who had paid for the game and extra songs and would be left with a disabled product in a month. Technically EA wasn’t doing anything illegal – their terms of service for pretty much all games on all platforms says that you’re not buying a product, you’re buying a “license”, and that your license to play the game (which, again, you paid for) can be revoked at any time and for any reason.
This bumble is the latest in a long line of anti-consumer moves from Electronic Arts that’s given them the reputation as one of the worst game publishers in the industry, at least from a business and consumer perspective. Restrictive, overbearing terms of service, expensive DLC packages (which many think are purposefully left out of final console and PC games) and a reliance on heavy-handed DRM and the Origin PC platform aren’t winning the company any fans. Their developers and the triple-A titles in their stable will probably keep them going, but a continually abusive stance towards their customers is creating a larger and larger contingent of dissatisfied gamers.