2006-11-18

Electronic Arts

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In Brief:

* Electronic Arts make it difficult to sign up and use their facilities
* Electronics Arts makes it difficult to get updates for their software
* Electronic Arts has a faulty feedback script, they don't want to hear from you
* Electronic Arts install spyware on your system (except, possibly, Australian versions)
* Electronics Boutique is a rip off in Australia
* Australian middle man importers/distributors are money-grubbing bastards
* I'm in a grumpy mood

Computer games

I have been known to play a few computer games in my time. I used to have over three shelves full of game boxes alone until I decided to discard the mostly empty boxes and just keep the manuals and disks, possibly even the covers of the box. I stashed them all into a cardboard box hidden away in my wardrobe. Only current games that I dabbled in would grace the shelf.

BattleField 2

Recently I have taken to occasionally playing Battlefield 2. This is currently selling for around $70 (all prices in Australian dollars unless specified) at Electronics Boutique, but was available from Pizza Hut in a $35 combo deal which included two large pizzas, garlic bread and Pepsi. Awesome value that disappeared quite quickly. You could also get Sims 2 + University, or some awful car game ("Need for Speed Most Wanted" I think) instead of Battlefield 2, but who cares; the local Pizza hut still had Sims and Need For Speed left over and were selling them for $15 on their own. All the while, Electronics Boutique continued to sell Battlefield 2 for $70-$90 depending on if they had a sale or not.

Battlefield 2142 demo

Battlefield 2142 is a futuristic setting battle ground. The game is basically the same as Battlefield 2 but with different graphics. I downloaded the >1Gig demo from one of a suggested mirror, but it was corrupted, so I downloaded again on a different computer from a different mirror and had the same corruption. I tried to report the download problem, but met with issues details below (complaints). I eventually found the 2142 demo file on an unofficial torrent site which downloaded over 10 times faster than either of the official mirrors, and voila, installation! Unfortunately the installation from EA was incomplete and required you to diagnose an error message which you can figure out with the help of Google to get to a Microsoft article that allows you to download and install a missing DLL.

Battlefield 2142 full version has spyware

Battlefield 2142 was to be available to the world as a download then simply get an activation code for US$50 which is Aus$65. Naturally Electronics Boutique has it for sale at $110. Unfortunately, Electronic Art's online purchase form does not have Australia as an allowable selection, so I cannot purchase legitimately online. I have to wonder if I need to change the region settings on my machine, do the servers have the smarts to pick up the country when looking at the IP and will the software stop working because of it. I actually contacted them about being in Australia and being excluded from online purchase but never received a reply. This is the only time that their contact-us support system worked for me.

I find out later through a wikipedia article that Battlefield 2142 is spyware laden but was prevented from distributing the software in Australia because installing the spyware would be illegal. Does this justify the price hike from a game that should to $65 to be sold for $110? Electronics Boutique has dropped the price to $99.95 recently. Still, they are a pack of bastards and I will never shop in there again. I will, however, report their extortionate prices and better ways to get the software.

Buy elsewhere

You can search eBay or find alternative overseas companies to purchase legitimate copies of the software. Such as the good people at Zest (Thailand) who will email you the key if you already have access to the Battlefield 2142 software for Aus$25, or deliver for Aus$40 if you are prepared to wait. Not a bad saving at all! Battlefield 2 is available for $22. Check it out. There is always a level of trust you have to place in ANY online company, let alone one from overseas. In Thailand they don't have to feed the good-for-nothing middle man as much plus the average wage is lower so the software companies can't scam the customers for as much as the market will bear. In my opinion, the marketers in Australia have it so wrong. Sure, we are a smaller market, larger area, higher distribution costs, but that should mean smaller profits and not higher pricing. Poor software marketing strategies are encouraging piracy or forcing customers to look at cheaper alternatives overseas.

I don't think I will be buying Battlefield 2142 any time soon tho. I don't want their spyware on my computer. I don't want to encourage companies that install spyware onto a computer. I am particularly sick of Electronic Arts and all their antics.

Patches

Battlefield 2 is quite buggy until you patch it with the updates available from Electronic Arts. You can online play online with servers that have the same patch level that you have installed, the servers are usually pretty quick to update when a patch comes out so you will see all your favourite online servers vanish. Just recently a new patch came out for Battlefield 2, version 1.41. Unforunately the idiots at Electronic Arts forgot to place the patch in the right spot. You click on upgrade on the Battlefield 2 menu and you get the old 1.4 patch. You search around Electronic Arts and find the same situation most everywhere: patch 1.41 is not listed but 1.4 is. Well it is available somewhere or the servers could not be upgrading. Finally, after prowling the forums I find the 1.41 patch. It also appears that the 1.41 patch is a complete patch from version 1.0, I could be wrong but the patch is >500Meg. Would be much nicer to download a small patch to upgrade from 1.4 to 1.41. Maybe it is out there, but EA have just hidden it. *sigh*

Complaints

So while on their site I thought I might tell them about the patch location problem. I click on the support and contact us links, I go through their hoops about specifying platform, game, problem, etc, filling in every field. The page offers me some bogus information that they think might help and asks if I still want to submit the comment, which I do, then I get a message saying that my javascript is turned off, which is complete crap because javascript needs to be enabled to even fill out their stupid form. I go back and fill out the forms again. Same error. I change computers and use a different browser type. Same fricken error.

I keep getting the idea that big companies do NOT want to hear from their customers.

Electronic Arts, I hate you and believe that you are evil in every sense of the word.

2006-11-05

Mac articles now at Mac Tech Switching

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingI have been "invited" to submit articles over on a new Mac blog called Mac Tech Switching so I will probably post none (or very few) Mac based articles here from this point.

My first article was about a list of laptops that met the minimum specs required for my place of work. One of them happened to be a MacBook Pro, which also happened to be the cheapest. I thought this worthy of reporting as people who are looking at high end laptops in the same way that I was might automatically discount Apple as an option. Clearly Apple is an option even if you want to run Windows only. There are a lot of factors that you will want to consider apart from what I listed which has been argued to hell on the blog and on Digg. So many insecure Windows users; which is what I expected: plenty of Apple hate. I use Windows, Mac and Linux. Each has their place and is interesting in their own right.

Digg is a very popular site and if your article makes it to the front page then it will send a LOT of traffic to your site. The very rough view stats as of about 30 hours after posting the MacBook Pro article; we had 6000 views of the blog article which would be mostly digg users, 600 diggs of the article (10%), 60 digg comments (1%), 30 blog comments (0.5%), 6 clicks on Google ads (0.1%).

So Mac Tech Switching is yet another blog I write on including Blogger, .Mac and Vox. I like Vox, excellent article editing and image insertion, however blogger integrates better with my web site thanks to template editing.

I also post items to Whirlpool, Slashdot, Digg and even write to some newsgroups (USENET) when the fancy takes me. Yes, my hordes of fans out there can find my text all over the place. Joy.