EA’s Origin Wants Your Private Data

Origin: Powered by EANew information regarding Origin’s EULA has been discovered: EA seeks to collect your personal data and reserve the right to distribute that data to third parties for marketing purposes. Earlier this month, an announcement stated Battlefield 3 would require Origin and will use your default web browser to look for servers on the Battlelog site instead of an in-game browser. This means you are required to leave the game to find a new server to play on, or at the very least Alt+Tab.

Many people have wondered why this new feature was being pushed on the PC gamers when no other PC game requires this, and EA has not been forthcoming about why it was so important. Now those reasons might have been snuffed out. This news comes from a keen-eyed observer over at the Escapist forum that had spotted this questionable term in Origin’s EULA:

2. Consent to Collection and Use of Data.

You agree that EA may collect, use, store and transmit technical and related information that identifies your computer (including the Internet Protocol Address), operating system, Application usage (including but not limited to successful installation and/or removal), software, software usage and peripheral hardware, that may be gathered periodically to facilitate the provision of software updates, dynamically served content, product support and other services to you, including online services. EA may also use this information combined with personal information for marketing purposes and to improve our products and services. We may also share that data with our third party service providers in a form that does not personally identify you. IF YOU DO NOT WANT EA TO COLLECT, USE, STORE, TRANSMIT OR DISPLAY THE DATA DESCRIBED IN THIS SECTION, PLEASE DO NOT INSTALL OR USE THE APPLICATION. This and all other data provided to EA and/or collected by EA in connection with your installation and use of this Application is collected, used, stored and transmitted in accordance with EA’s Privacy Policy located at www.ea.com. To the extent that anything in this section conflicts with the terms of EA’s Privacy Policy, the terms of the Privacy Policy shall control.

EA’s requirement for an out of game browser brings with it the possibility of target ads or other privacy concerns with all future EA titles on Origin. EA has made very controversial decisions in the past with their previous digital download services, such as charging extra to download a digital game after 6 months from the purchase date, with the Extended Download Service.

Analysis: I am appalled to see that EA is requiring this kind of information from their users, especially when you are required to install Origin to play Battlefield 3. I said to a few friends of mine that EA would try to screw over their customers with Origin and that it would be a very bad deal for gamers. I was told by said friends that it’s the right move for EA to compete with Valve’s Steam platform and that if they want to get a foothold, they would have to do it by making their titles exclusive to Origin, but they would never try to screw over their customers. Well, that day has come and in the worst way possible.

I made my prediction based on EA’s past actions, like buying Westwood and other game studios instead of breaking them apart, the Extended Digital Download service you tried to force on customers, and the list goes on. I have no illusion you’re in this business to make money, but you still need to respect your customers and their privacy. But lately, you have shown less and less that you do.

I personally love the games from Bioware, but since EA has taken them over, I have seen many things that disturb me. The quick development and release of Dragon Age II, cutting many features for PC gamers, and taking many shortcuts. I believe this was EA’s decision and not Bioware’s because the latter have not taken these kinds of shortcuts before in their games, but EA has with other titles they have acquired, like the Command and Conquer franchise.

EA has said that Origin is about providing customers the best experience possible with their titles. This doesn’t serve your customers whatsoever; it serves your need for control and then profit through that control. This is going to deter me from purchasing any title on Origin, even with my love for Bioware games. This requirement will also bring you into the sights of groups that advocate for Online Rights. I don’t know when this will happen, but it will. Until they change this clause, buyer beware.


About Brandon Mietzner