Gaming refunds

Published on March 9th, 2013 | by Zach (beezn) Beason


Refunds? You Don’t Need No Stinking Refunds!

Have you ever had to return something that you found to be broken once you opened the box and set it up? Well, too bad if you bought SimCity digital edition through EA’s Origin because you can’t. Why not you may ask. It’s against the terms of service that you agreed to when you created your account.

“Subject to the following paragraph, there are no refunds for products or services purchased on our Websites” – Origin TOS

The following paragraph that they mention concerns residents of both the EU and Germany in particular. Those governments have put laws in place that require refunds to be given if requested. Everyone else, unfortunately, aren’t afforded that ability.

Even though the “always online” setup that Maxis and EA came up with was supposed to be a method of reducing patch complications and provide players with consistent could game save backups, conveniently also acting as a form of DRM to combat piracy. There was an issue. If the servers aren’t working then you can’t play.

This key problem combined with a lack of consistent communication from EA has led to a litany of errors, apologies, patches and many people demanding refunds. There has been a threat of account banning by an EA rep. -

To try and make up for the lack of giving people their money back EA has announced that they will be given a free game.

“And to get us back in your good graces, we’re going to offer you a free PC download game from the EA portfolio.  On March 18, SimCity players who have activated their game will receive an email telling them how to redeem their free game.

I know that’s a little contrived – kind of like buying a present for a friend after you did something crummy.  But we feel bad about what happened.  We’re hoping you won’t stay mad and that we’ll be friends again when SimCity is running at 100 percent.” –

It reads more like your friend sold you something, took your $60, and wouldn’t give it back when the thing was broken. That friend is a jerk. Then the friend tries to give you a gift that you didn’t want, because you just wanted your money. If they had returned it, the whole problem would be much less aggravating and you could still trust them.

A larger issue is that this clearly shows that the game you bought does not belong to you. You have a license to play the game and that license can be both taken from you in the form of account banning, or just accidentally through lack of foresight be unusable for an indeterminate amount of time.

As gaming heads more and more into a digital distribution model where a policy eliminates the ability to get a refund when a major infrastructure issue like this occurs, what can you do? Will EA and other companies that have similar policies like Steam and Microsoft rethink their stance? Lets hope so, this could get worse next time.

About the Author

I suppose that I'm what happens when you give a kid a 25 gallon tub of Lego and a lot of free time. I play games, I take things apart, and I build things (not as successfully as I took them apart). On occasion I have been known to put pen to paper and write about games, movies, comics, basically a whole bunch of stuff.

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