EA Australia Receives An ‘Award’ For The Sim City Launch Debacle

EA Australia Receives An ‘Award’ For The Sim City Launch Debacle
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For the past eight years CHOICE, Australia’s biggest independent consumer organisation, has been running the Shonkys — an awards ceremony that names and shames Australia’s ‘shonkiest’ products and services. The Shonkys are taking place right now and EA Australia has just won an ‘award’ for its handling of the debacle that was the Sim City launch.

In a tweet making the announcement CHOICE claimed that EA Australia won the award for “making customers pay to exercise their human rights” by charging consumers $2.48 a minute to complain about Sim City’s troubled launch on the EA Australia tech support line.

When Sim City launched as an online only product there was outrage, after consumers literally could not play the product they paid for, when EA’s server broke beneath the weight of incredible demand. That launch, and EA’s handling of that launch, was problematic to say the least. During the launch EA announced it would not be providing Origin users a refund on the product, a move that went against the ACCC’s code of conduct. EA Australia later released a note stating that it would comply with consumer rights laws in Australia. Regardless, it was an extremely flawed product on day one and beyond.

Tom Godfrey, CHOICE head of media, took issues with Sim City’s always-on feature.

“EA is winning a Shonky for irresponsibly releasing a game before it is ready, and then have the tenacity to charge for customer service. CHOICE believes that consumers shouldn’t have to pay to complain,” he said.

“SimCity’s always-on feature means you need to be connected to the internet in order to play. This appears to be a misguided Digital Rights Management (DRM) measure to fight piracy, although EA have denied this is the reason for the feature. The always-on DRM created multiple problems – servers crashed and fans were kicked out of the game.”

In addition to the award, CHOICE also sent a letter to EA Australia demanding it drop the $2.48 a minute charge on its support line: “[T]he very least EA can do is scrap the $2.48 a-minute fee on your Australian support line, and ensure that you test your products based on real world situations before launching them to unsuspecting customers.”

You can read the whole letter here.

We’ve contacted EA locally and will update when we receive a response.


    • yeah especially as this isn’t an internet poll like worst company in america this is a thoroughly researched arguement put forward by a reputable consumers rights organisation.

    • After them already having been awarded “Worst Company in America” two years running, I doubt this is going to make things noticeably worse for them!

    • Forget kick-in-the-nadz, after the way they kept screwing up, I’d be stunned if they weren’t wearing their collective balls as earrings by now.

  • I just think its really bad when these people in power just do things and then worry about the legal implications later. There needs to be a higher penalty for those who try and make up rules and impose them. I’ve seen it from a small boss of 3, up to EA and apple, Jsut make up rules, if people follow them great, if their illegal we’ll deny it and keep making money until the law steps in. During that time company has made … in profit, while customers are left confused, angry and annoyed that, individually, they had to search to see if it was legal and then money,time to get back just the refund, something that should of happened on day 1??

    • I don’t think EA actually did anything that was blatantly illegal. The only thing that went close was the refusal to refund which they backflipped on straight away.

      At the end of the day this is how the free market works. EA are f*ckwits and if you don’t want to get screwed over by them then don’t buy their products. Simple as that.
      Sure it sucks if you want to play their games or worse, if you want a game which uses a licence that they own (FIFA, Madden, UFC, Porsche ect), but it’s all you can do. Don’t reward them for this kind of behaviour and they’ll stop it.

        • I know buddy, it’s an awful situation.

          Remember that EA wants to make all the money it can. If you really must buy Bioware games (I do) then so be it. Even if you can just hold off on the 50/50 purchases it still sends a message.

          You might not be able to live without Mass Effect, but to you REALLY need this year’s FIFA update?

          • Well, I’m already on the EA boycott. But I dunwannabe. The new Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Mirror’s Edge 2… And I heard the ME3 citadel DLC was pretty great. Actually releasing Mirrors Edge 2 would be a step in the right direction, since I don’t think it’s expected to be a commercial success. And the Humble/Origin Bundle charity drive was a nice extra step as well. It just seems too hard for them to change.

          • I just don’t pre order any of their stuff. They’ve been cocks before so I just work on a game by game basis.

            If they do something stupid, I don’t buy it. If it’s good I still will. If everyone did that for SimCity it wouldn’t have sold a tenth of the copies it did and they’d never do it again.

          • I was trying to think of the last EA game I purchased… Couldn’t remember so skimmed through and it was the South African World Cup edition of FIFA that came as part of my PS3 bundle.

            So it appears I’m boycotting EA without even trying!

      • Whenever people say “simple as that”, it’s never as simple as that. The basic idea is that companies are evil and will exploit you any chance they get. Now, this is wrong. Obviously, the act of exploitation is wrong, yes? Not providing services as-advertised, forcing you to sign ridiculous and legally ambiguous ToS and attempting to circumvent clear consumer laws is something i really think people should start getting vocal about. It’s amazing to me how often we see people blame the consumers for not going to absurd lengths to get what they paid for, when they’re rightfully entitled to fair treatment which they most definitely are not receiving. It happens all to often.

        • EA Games have had TOS for as long as I can remember and have been assholes for even longer.

          It IS actually really simple. If they burn you, and you stop buying their products, they’ll stop doing it. If they’ve burnt you in the past don’t pre-order their games, wait until the reviews come out before you commit to purchase.

          I understand that people shouldn’t have to chase after a company of shonks, but the bottom line is people complain and then turn around and buy the next EA game only to complain again.

          It’s not something that people “need to get vocal about” at all. Warn others for sure, but at the end of the day EA will happily put that Shonky up on their mantle piece if people don’t vote with their wallets.

    • When I was programming a certain system that shall not be named, we had to take credit card payments online. Unfortunately we didn’t have an account with who we needed to to ACCEPT these payments yet. So my boss told me to research what it legally requires to store the credit card details for later payment. When those requirements turned out to be too complicated, he said screw it, just store them anyway with no encryption or protection at all. To this day I could probably go in, turn on those features, come back a day later and have 50 credit cards details in front of my eyes and no one would be the wiser

  • “EA is winning a Shonky for irresponsibly releasing a game before it is ready, and then have the tenacity to charge for customer service.

    I don’t think the word “tenacity” actually makes much sense in that context… “temerity”, maybe?

    • Given their level of persistence in charging for a support line that exists primarily to field complaints, tenacity is not entirely inaccurate. (Although temerity is definitely a better word.)

      The actual Shonky phrasing from Choice does not use either word.

  • I have never had a problem with EA (over 1000 BF3 hours). Every game has it’s bugs, and they work to smooth them over. Whilst I certainly don’t think they’re the best company, they have accumulated a ‘band-waggon’ of haters. I am not on it.

    • They may not have sent you to the wagon and some people certainly treat EA as a vector for rage porn, but they really have earned a lot of the ire.

      • It’s like the GTA V forums immediately after GTA Online launched. It was just rage & hate. I logged in on the 1st day, didn’t work so well, then left it for just over a week. I think customers are sometimes just as responsible when it comes to feedback to get issues resolved. If people were more constructive in their criticism and worked together to get issues fixed, I imagine that said issues would be resolved a lot faster. But we’re only human right?

        • Yeah that’s fair. Though, I think with EA it’s a case of them purposely leaving problems unfixed for launch in order to get a tonne of free QA done in the market and as a cost cutting procedure. Sim City is a good example.
          They knew it was going to be a complete shit show for the first few weeks because they had enough servers set up for normal load. Instead of paying money and doing the work to get a tonne of servers set up for the first two weeks and then tailing them off, they cut the cost by shrugging their shoulders and saying ‘We didn’t realise how much people LOVED our awesome game that is in no way unfinished, buggy and under supported!’

  • This is stupid, all games have their issues at launch. I guess us gamers have to exercise our right to complain, because heaven forbid us from waiting for all the shit to get ironed out before we play our games.

    • @Thunder – “heaven forbid us from waiting for all the shit to get ironed out before”… we release the product that we have hyped and promoted and sold to the unsuspecting punters.

      In what other marketplace is this acceptable?

      Gamers have become accustomed to putting up with mediocre QA from publishers, but it doesn’t mean that it should be acceptable.

    • Before you open your mouth like a cretin how about you consider the finer points of what it is you’ve just said.


      Logic 1, Thunder 0.

    • Or they could just not ship broken games (there was a lot more wrong with it than just the server issues, after all) that can’t be played, thanks to forced online “It’s not DRM, because reasons… umm, we meant it to be an MMO” single-player mode.

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