PC gamers in Germany are up in arms as a result of pictures that appeared online that show EA’s Origin accessing private information on users’ PCs. One such alleged image can be seen here. This has prompted people to accuse Electronic Arts of utilising Origin to spy on users – an accusation that the publisher has strongly denied.
Adding more fuel to the PR nightmare, a German newspaper called Spiegel published a list of items that are allegedly accessed by EA’s digital distribution platform. That list included things like: “IP addresses, usage data, software, equipment, software usage and existing hardware peripherals”. Origin supposedly accesses other EA games installed on PCs without notifying users.
It has also been suggested that the Terms of Service for Origin violate the online privacy laws of Germany. This has been the fundamental reason for German gamers’ outrage. As a result, EA has altered the German End User License Agreement and has issued a statement strongly denying all of the accusations.
“We have updated the End User License Agreement of Origin, in the interests of our players to create more clarity. Origin is not spyware. Neither do we use nor install spyware on the PCs of users.
“We do not have access to information such as pictures, documents or personal data, which have nothing to do with the execution of the Origin program on the system of the player, neither will they be collected by us.
“EA takes the privacy of its users very seriously. We have taken every precaution to protect the personal and anonymous user data collected.”
A lot of the damage has already been done as German retailers began accepting returns and providing full refunds for all PC copies of Battlefield 3. EA’s latest military FPS requires Origin to be installed on PCs prior to playing the game. German retailers have provided full refunds despite the fact that the PC keys associated with the returned copies have already been activated online.