Sunday, January 1, 2012

BioWare Bans for Swearing, Restricts Account Management Access

[DISCLAIMER: I can't provide any confirmation as to the authenticity of these images or the claims of the poster in question. I found these screenshots posted on another forum. Whether the claims being made are true or not are for you to decide. Perhaps someone else who has been banned can confirm.]

Maybe you've had enough of the BioWare hate since Star Wars: The Old Republic launched, but it seems like every day we get a new screenshot of a forum post, BioWare support e-mail, or controversial in-game feature that fuels heated discussion (SPOILER: flame wars) between all kinds of MMORPG players.

Today is no different. Behold:

First of all... does anyone know the meaning of "game experience may change during online play?" What it means is that the ESRB isn't responsible for the content that you come across online that's created by other players or entities not associated with BioWare. In other words, the ESRB rating is not a valid basis upon which you ban someone from your game service for something they type in chat. Whether they would use this as a basis for the ban is no more relevant than it is likely, however, because BioWare can ban people for whatever they want and we can't really do anything about it.

Though, I do feel it's my duty to touch on the ethical aspect of BioWare's decision here. Not only is it absurd to ban someone for saying a naughty word that - for anyone who doesn't want to read it - can be easily filtered by their in-game profanity filter, but he was talking exclusively to his friends through whispers. What this means is that either the f-word is filtered and messages containing it are forwarded directly to the customer service representatives, or a game master is reading your private messages. Is either option one that you would prefer? Just when you thought your only freedom left in the real world was to retreat to a virtual world, your freedom there is being stripped as well.

But that's not all.

I didn't go to law school, but isn't this somehow an illegal business practice? They are denying you the opportunity to cancel your subscription to a service that they're restricting your access from. If being required to purchase a subscription plan by providing your credit card information before being given the one month of free game time you were promised isn't enough, this should be. An organization that operates in this manner doesn't deserve any of our business, no matter how delicious the carrot might look at first glance. Don't fall for it.