Over the weekend, many people became aware of a glitch with a promo code that EA had offered through a survey for their Origin service. The promo code in particular was for $20 credit towards a purchase, and even with some stipulations attached, this meant that a majority of games under $20 were free. The glitch was that people were able to use the code multiple times through specific exploits (deleting cookies, using different browsers, etc etc), thereby stocking up on a ton of games for absolutely nothing. Some called it theft while others called it a ploy by EA to get a larger user base. Many believed it would result in banhammers being dropped.
None of this is the case, as EA has come out on their forums and stated that the coupon is expired now and that they will honor all sales from the promo code. They went so far as to say "enjoy your games".
People have fumed about this over the last few days, and while they do have valid points, there are bigger things at stake here, and EA has now put themselves in a very advantageous position. I have a bullet pointed list to explain:
- Holiday season is coming up. With all the new users on Origin, EA has the opportunity to try offering deals that can beat out Steam, thereby enticing users to buy from their service rather than Steam.
- EA now has a better chance to test our their Origin service and servers, making sure that any potential kinks are worked out.
- There is a solid opportunity to flaunt some numbers to third-parties in order to get their games onto the service, offering some form of competition against the monolith that is Valve.
- With the plethora of negative PR surrounding EA over The Old Republic, Dragon Age 2, Mass Effect 3, Dead Space 3, Medal of Honor, the "Doctors" leaving, and so many other things, this is an opportunity for EA to gain an upswing of positive PR. Hell, this is the same company that was voted the single worst corporation in the world...OVER BP!
The problem on the other side of this scenario, however, is precedent. Now that EA has made this decision, it means they have set in stone that they will turn the other cheek when it comes to people exploiting their system. What happens the next time that they issue a promo code that is used maliciously? If they ban people or even cause some hoopla about it, the easy response for the user is "remember when we downloaded all those free games that one time and you didn't do shit about it?". It's a slippery slope to run along.
In the end, this is what I know: I finally get to play the PC version of Dragon Age Origins and use some other games I acquired to stress test my new gaming PC a bit more. Because of this single move, I think I might buy myself a game on Origin. The hook has been set.