Tuesday, October 17, 2006

EA - Adware, Its In The Game.

In the latest (October 11th, 2006) Computer Gaming World radio podcast they open up an advance retail box of the very soon to be released "Battlefield 2142". Inside the box they find a disclaimer notice informing you that the game includes monitoring software which runs while your computer is online, records personal information and sends it back to the advertising companies which provide the in-game advertising. ADWARE!!!!

There doesn’t seem to be much major news coverage of this yet but its popping up on a few independent game forums followed by a plethora of "fuck EA I won’t be buying this game" posts.

Now I’ve long been a fan of "Fuck EA" I mean fan of Battlefield 2 and I’ve been really excited about Battlefield 2142’s release... until now.

I remember when I first heard of EA when I bought "Archon" for the Commodore 64. I read the little "about EA" blurb and thought they were such a cool company. I was walking on air when a game I worked on, "The Mars Saga", was published by EA with my picture on the inside flap with their old, cool “cube, sphere, pyramid” logo. I loved that logo and I think they sold their soul about the same time they stopped using it. By the way, the little "about the developer blurb" that went with our picture for "The Mar's Saga" was the first time I snuck Douglas Adam’s references into some of my published writings. EA trimmed my original text a bit which ruined the pacing but they had legitimate space issues so I didn’t mind.

SERIOUSLY THOUGH ADWARE! I’m really upset about this. Okay there is something you should know about me. I have a computer curse. Things go wrong for me, mysterious things that nobody can explain; IT people have actually resorted to waving dead poultry over my machines. Back at Westwood I used to be required to bring my home machine in to test the install of our games because they would ALWAYS screw up for me… unless somebody was watching, but you probably guessed that part. Anyway I would bring my machine in and run the install program and then call the guys in from out in the hall (because it wouldn't do it if they were in the room) to see the machine after it had screwed up.

Because of that I don’t even surf the net on my game machine… ever! If I need something for that machine, I download it on this machine and then copy it over to that one. It is my clean machine. I am deadly afraid of installing the wrong thing that is going to slow that machine down. And now EA wants to install Adware on my clean machine! I am all for in game advertising, but this is going too far. I understand they think this information is valuable to them but it’s a bit more valuable to me. If Mr. Advertising Agency guy wants that information I’ll sell it to him but my price is going to be slightly higher than me paying full price for a game and having software on my machine slowing it down. It’s funny that I don’t feel that I am coming out ahead in their deal.

Now I do think that people are erroring on the side of chaos in what this adware actually does, but after the Sony rootkit scandal I don’t blame them. I lost all faith in Logitech when I found them installing adware with my new G15 Keyboard and G5 mouse. The infamous Real-player admitting it installs adware and not caring what you think about it. We simply can’t trust the big, main stream companies anymore than we can trust some back alley warz website. The fact that EA is scared enough about what they are doing to warn you with an actual writing on paper notice instead of something hidden away in a 12-page, 6 point font, end user license agreement written in lawyer language should tell us something.

There is another thing about this that intrigues me though. This is a notice inside the box for an online game where the game’s serial number is then attached to your online account so the game can’t be used again by somebody else. Most software stores have a no return policy on those types of games once opened. So what is the chance Mr. Software_Story_Guy is going to allow you to return the game once you’ve opened it, read this adware warning notice, and decided that you rather not have EA sodomize you?

Speaking of Computer Gaming World, the latest issue is the last issue under that name. They are being reborn as “Games for Windows: The Official magazine”. While you are spouting off your opinions of that, you can download PDF versions of the first 100 issues that they scanned and put online. I’d like to point your attention to my first game cover (well half a cover anyway) Number 55 from January 1989 with "Battletech: The Crescent Hawk’s Inception". Or Number 71 from May 1990 featuring "DragonStrike". Then a few months later we see Number 75 from November 1990 showing "Battletech II: The Crescent Hawk’s Revenge".

Don’t look for mega-hit "Eye of the Beholder" on the cover of Number 83 from 1991 because it got beat out by "Legend’s Timequest"... tell me who went down on Scorpia to get that deal through?

Before end this and go get my jammies on I’d like to point out the legendary vaporware "Champions" cover from March of 1992. A game that never got released made the cover. It was a very big embarrassment for them. I wonder who was forced to go down on Scorpia as punishement for that one?

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