Monday, June 25, 2012

Electronic Arts: The Worst Game Publisher on Android

Hello all

Today I will recount my experience of attempting to purchase a few games published by Electronic Arts, or EA, the world's second largest games publisher who have some amazing franchises such as Battlefield, Crysis, Need for Speed, SimCity, FIFA, and SSX, among others.

Everybody knows that EA are a big force on Apple devices. Since a couple of years EA has ventured into Android publishing. Unfortunately, the whole experience, from the games selection in the Play Store, to the availability, to the installation, to the download of additional data, is such a depressing succession of horrifying encounters that I am forced to write here, as a matter of record, that it is perfectly justifiable to pirate EA games on Android. We will get to the reasons for this declaration at the end of this post.

So why EA games experience on Android is such a horror? Oh, where do we start.

1) Look at that screenshot of Google Play Store on the PC. I needed to buy Need for Speed Hot Pursuit. Guess what: There are two entries on the Play Store, one from EA Inc, and one from Electronic Arts Netherlands. The EA Inc entry is not allowed to be installed anywhere outside the US. For rest of the world (ROW) there is the Netherlands entry.

Why? Do you see any other publisher following this strange arrangement?

2) Every EA games asks you to validate via internet when you run their game. Every. Freaking. Time. So, for  example, if I plan to play FIFA in a waiting room or on a bus without wifi connection, I have to incur data charges in order to play the game. That alone, in my opinion, breaks every EA game for me. It's pathetic.

3) Assuming you do find the game you are looking for (since Play Store's search function is horribly broken - we will cover that in a separate post), just click on the compatibility list. Apparently EA just decides which game is compatible with which device, and which countries are supposed to get it. So you are likely to discover that even if your country is eligible, your device isn't. If both are eligible.....

4) Good luck downloading. Many big games like FIFA 12 require additional data to be downloaded on the phone's memory. Once you have downloaded the game application file and installed it, you launch the game, where the game cheerfully tells you that it will need to download further data amounting a gigabyte or two (no kidding). The next screen? "Server not available. Please contact".

It makes it much worse when you have actually BOUGHT the game.

I wrote to EA on this issue. They first offered a solution which was incredible in its stupidity. "If you have another Android device in your home, sign in to your account on Play Store on that one, download the data, then copy the relevant folder into your main phone". This solution makes several assumptions:

1) We all have Android phones just lying around, as emergency backups when downloads get stuck
2) The broken server/link will work on that other phone while it clearly isn't working on mine
3) Even if the link works, the files downloaded for THAT device will be exactly compatible with my main device
4) I would know where those files landed, and will know enough about inner workings of Android to know where to post the folder again. And that is assuming I have a working PC.

For your further entertainment, I copy the exact text of the reply:

Hello Talha, 

Thank you for your interest in Electronic Arts and for taking the time to write us with your thoughts and questions regarding Dead Space, FIFA 12 and the 5002 error you're receiving. 

I apologize for the delay in my response, and I understand how frustrating this issue can be. I'll do everything I can to resolve this for you! 

This is a possible workaround for the issue you're experiencing. Note: This requires another android device, such as a phone for the workaround. 

Download the game and any updates to your android phone, then copy the files to the same location on the Tablet device, the file location should be:

This is a possible workaround, and I cannot guarantee this may work, but it's one solution some of our customers have mentioned success with! 

If successful with Dead Space, the same steps should allow you to install FIFA 12 as well.

If your issue persists please let us know so that we can further assist you. Thanks again for writing us. We look forward to helping you answer some of your questions and hope you enjoy playing EA games! 

Best Regards,

So yes, the great minds at EA support have offered 'probable workarounds' that 'might work'. All in return for my money.

To be fair, when I replied to them in politest possible terms that this was not possible, they offered to refund my money. Meanwhile I had discovered a pirate site which gave me a download link for game data (please understand that price is charged for the game file itself, not data, and I had paid it fully). So the game worked. No thanks to EA.

I haven't experienced such poor levels of tech support EVER. And I expected better from EA whose many glorious games I grew up with and still enjoy. Needless to say, by the time I discovered that I was screwed, the Android refund window of 15 minutes had long gone. No wonder most EA games, despite being excellent, enjoy only three stars or so in ratings.

That's why I am advocating pirating the games. First download and install it off a pirate site, then, if you like it and it works, by all means purchase it. I know that's not a most politically correct solution, but seeing EA's behaviour, we are left with no choice.

1 comment:

  1. This was a good suggestion that you put up here...dude…..hope that it benefits all the ones who land up here. 
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