It doesn’t matter if you bought the $200 special edition or cheapest digital copy; You don’t own your games.
Reports from Reddit that were confirmed on the EA Forums say that EA has removed access for users from Myanmar, citing political sanctions. Myanmar has been under sanction from the US since 1997, though tensions between that and the US have eased in recent years. Last month, President Obama announced that the US would begin easing the sanctions and make it easier for US business to operate in Myanmar. Despite that announcement, Origin (previously accessible for players) has blocked users in Myanmar. This seems especially unfair given that other digital distribution platforms such as Steam, also a US based entity, continues to allow access.
It is unclear how many users are affected by this decision, but it illustrates something important. Reddit user trivial_sublime’s post on in the early hours of Sunday morning was quickly promoted to the front page of the site for good reason. He concludes his post saying
“This is a much, MUCH bigger problem than just a few gamers in Myanmar. This highlights a crucial element of the TOS of big game companies – the money that you pay them gives you essentially nothing in return, except for an empty promise that the game company may let you play their game until they decide you can’t.”
While it is unfortunate that many gamers can no longer access their content and have no course for restitution, what is most chilling is that EA has the right to do this. If you have read the user agreements to any platform you are a member of (PSN, Xbox Live, even social networks) you will find a common theme: you don’t actually own the content. Even if you buy a physical copy, you are only buying the right to play it. These small lines of legal are often ove looked in a hurry to get past the start menu, but they are still applicable to you.
For instance, take this excerpt form Battlefield 1 User Agreement:
“The EA Services are licensed to you, not sold. EA grants you a personal, limited, non-transferable, revocable and non-exclusive license to use the EA Services to which you have access for your non-commercial use, subject to your compliance with this Agreement. You may not access, copy, modify or distribute any EA Service, Content or Entitlements (as those terms are defined below), unless expressly authorized by EA or permitted by law. You may not reverse engineer or attempt to extract or otherwise use source code or other data from EA Services, unless expressly authorized by EA or permitted by law. EA or its licensors own and reserve all other rights, including all right, title and interest in the EA Services and associated intellectual property rights.”
The user agreement goes on to outline how they own everything from the code, the logos and how they are used (this article could have also been titled “Why You Should Be Grateful Game Companies Let You Stream/Upload Videos at All”), how using their programs gives EA to collect data off your machines, and they don’t guarantee updates or access to content. EA is not the only company with user agreements like this. All games feature similar text, although games that do not require integration with an online software such as Origin are easier to retain control of. The reality of the situation is that players like you and me have only purchased a license to play.