Tobold's Blog
Saturday, July 23, 2011
EA Origin isn't working

There has been a lot of controversy regarding EA Origin. Crysis 2 being pulled from Steam and SWTOR being exclusive on EA Origin suggested that EA was trying to push customers towards their own platform, however they minced their words to explain it. SWTOR also got a lot of bad press already, and their 150 dollar/euro collectors edition didn't exactly help. But after all that, Heartless of course is right, and Star Wars: The Old Republic is a game most of us are going to buy anyway.

So I went and tried to pre-order Star Wars: The Old Republic on Origin. Keyword being "tried", because I didn't succeed yet. First of all directly after the announcement of the pre-order availability, Origin couldn't handle the rush. Well, it must be nice to know for EA that so many people want to pre-order their game. But Steam isn't crashing because lots of people want to buy or pre-order the latest game. A digital distribution platform not being able to handle a lot of customers is not exactly encouraging. How will they be able to handle people actually wanting to download the game on release if they can't even manage the pre-orders?

Then things got weirder and weirder. EA announced that the pre-order for the digital version of Star Wars: The Old Republic was limited. So first they said they needed at least a million players to be profitable, and then they are trying to limit the player numbers already at the time of the pre-order? How exactly does a digital pre-order run out of stock?

So they directed the people trying to pre-order to a separate page away from Origin. For putting in all your data and payment information they promised you to MAYBE allow you to pre-order the game, with the decision in a mail within 48 hours. The mail would also contain a code with which to register your pre-order access to the beta. So far so good. I fill out the form, and already an hour later get an order confirmation. No pre-order access code in that order confirmation though. The Origin customer service pages are a mess, but there is a function where you can check the status of your orders. Result: Origin isn't aware that I ordered anything from them, in spite of having confirmed my order with an e-mail. WTF?!?!?

At this point I could only try to contact customer service and give up. If I had tried again to pre-order, I risked to end up having to pay for two copies of the game. But now I have neither a solid confirmation of my order, no the beta access code I wanted to pre-order for in the first place! My contact with Origin is further complicated by their inability to let me choose a language: They insist on talking to me in the language determined be the IP address of from wherever I access the internet from. As I don't live in the country of my birth, and I am currently traveling, this results in me having mails from them in several different languages. All except English, because tothe only way to get English is to travel to the UK.

I don't care about the competition between Steam and Origin, or the price of the collector's edition, or the politics of digital distribution platforms. But as a customer my most basic requirement for a digital distribution platform is that it works. EA Origin isn't working. Maybe I'd better buy SWTOR as a box in a shop.

[EDIT: What apparently *is* working is their customer service. I got a response within 1 hour, and that on a Saturday afternoon, telling me that the mail with the pre-order access code would follow later in a separate e-mail from the order confirmation. Although the order confirmation mail said "use the access code above mentioned as serial number to register." The poor customer service representatives must be putting in extra hours to deal with this mess.]

[EDIT 2: Still no second e-mail with a code two days later. But a guild mate told me that checking your order status on the Origin website now works, and that I could find the pre-order code there. Yay! That worked. My pre-order code is now registered on the SWTOR site, hopefully giving me beta access later this year.]
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