Gaming giant blocks services to Myanmar
GAMERS in Myanmar are seeing red after attempts to access boughtand-paid-for services have been blocked by one of the industry’s leading developers.
EA Games, which produces globally beloved franchises such as FIFA, Need for Speed and Battlefield, appears to have blocked its trademark online gaming services platform from Myanmar in the last month, with no notice delivered to paying customers who can no longer play the games they normally would.
The platform, known as Origin, enables users to purchase games on the internet for PC and mobile patforms. It’s ideal for countries such as Myanmar, where more people can access games on computers or smartphones than traditional gaming platforms like Xboxs and Playstations.
But over the weekend access was blocked for one Tyler Roy, a resident in Yangon who purchased Origin access before he moved to Myanmar about a year ago. He did some research online and eventually discovered that access to Origin from Myanmar had been blocked alongside countries such as Iran and N Korea.
“I was furious at first – I mean, I paid for this software, and they disabled my access because of where I live, when they happily took money from people from Myanmar before,” he said.
He quickly posted more information on Reddit, where the issue became the leading topic on the site on October 30. Gamers from around the world weighed in, with most criticising the massive developer for secretly terminating services without warning – and for a reason that doesn’t make sense.
According to an article from early yesterday morning on PCgamer.com, an Origin representative acknowledged the blocked services in a Reddit post.
“The short answer here is that this occurred due to the US government trade embargo on Myanmar,” the source said. “In accordance with US law, EA is legally required to restrict online services to residents of countries that are embargoed. This isn’t an EA-specific issue – it’s an issue that impacts all companies offering services that are covered by trade embargoes.”
As Roy and other Myanmar gamers have been quick to point out, the US trade embargoes were lifted on October 7, so any restrictions should have been lifted concurrently.
Representatives have indicated that EA Games is examining the matter internally, but for Roy and other Myanmar fans of the company’s games, it remains to be seen whether they will be reimbursed for purchases made and not delivered.
“The most bewildering part for me is that they said that they were ‘forced’ to shut down the service because of US law,” Roy said. “This is untrue – even if the sanctions were still valid, they would only apply to the individuals and organisations on the SDN list. EA just saw Myanmar as disposable and hoped that people here wouldn’t raise too much of a fuss.”
He noted other Myanmar gamers alerted EA to the Origin access problems as early as September, but that the company refused to conduct an internal review until his post on Reddit began generating an international response.
“For years ... conspiracy people have been saying that digital distribution companies like iTunes, Origin, and Steam have the power to take away what we’ve purchased,” he said. “Unfortunately, they were right, and we’ve finally run into a situation where a large media distribution company has revoked access to what we’ve paid for.”
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