What the heck is up with EA’s Website and Support?

As an avid gamer, I spend countless hours on my xBox, my PS3, or my Wii checking out the latest games and particpating in online gaming.  One of the coolest facets of multiplayer gaming, in my opinion, is the deep online integration with websites for statistics and rank tracking.  Halo 3, Forza Motorsport, and countless others are excellent examples of how console gaming today blurs the line between the experience on xBox Live with the experience on the PC.  One of the biggest disappointments of recent times, in my opinion, is Electronic Arts.  As a major publishing house, they release countless games which I find very fun and addictive.  Unfortunately, the online experience that they claim "goes hand in hand" with these games is directly the opposite of "stellar".

Back when Electronic Arts first created their website, you created an account to interact with the site as intended.  At inception, the user name was a simple, user defined (usually less than 10 character) name to identify you online.

After a few years, the marketing engine started turning, and someone had the bright idea to force everyone to begin using their e-mail address at log in.  As most people have noticed in the news nowdays, EA is one of the most marketing hungry entities around (remember the in-game advertisements in 2142?), so despite this – many people created new accounts.  This was not an optional venture, you were told that in order to use the "new experience" you must create a new EA.COM login, which would use your e-mail address as the username when logging in.  You were then told to "link" your previous EA account to the new one.  Sounds easy enough.

As time went on, more games were released that used online functionality.  In order to use it, you would be required to LINK your xBox gamertags and PS3 network IDs to your new EA account.  Most of us successfully did this, and promptly noticed that going to the "Persona's" page on your EA profile yielded a list of all of your happily linked accounts.  It's supposed to be as easy as selecting which persona you want as "active", and then taking a visit to your favorite EA game site in order to be instantly shown your stats as applied to your selected persona.

Still sounds simple, right?  I've got news for you – this philosophy has turned into an instant failure.  A quick visit to the EA forums yields hundreds of messages (no matter the game) of varying users reporting problems "linking" their accounts, and even using accounts that are already linked.  Sadly, I am one of them.

I decided to log into the site and visit the support section, and post a request for help.  Of course, this led to at least two to three iterations of e-mails back and forth with tier-1 support, all unproductive, that not only wasted my time – they wasted the time of whomever it is handles Tier-1 support at EA.   I am totally guessing here, but with the onslaught of foreign surnames coming back on my response mails – I would guess that the support department (at least tier-1) is not even in house – it's probably outsourced – what a shame.

I would imagine that things are outsourced because each response that came back seemed to follow the same script I'd seen before.  See, I purchased Battlefield Bad Company recently – and I ran into issues seeing my stats (the bad company website refuses to see my active profile).  But this same thing happened back when I purchased Burnout, and it happened at an earlier time when I purchased the original Battlefield: Modern Combat.

I'm not the biggest fan of outsourcing – it wastes time.  I'm not sure if that is what is happening here, but outsourcing works for some circumstances but in general, its a bad idea.  Sourcing support to *any* company (regardles of locale) takes the support knowledge that you already have in-house and completely burns it away.  Your paying customers either give up trying to reach your "REAL" support, or they simply stop buying your product and/or using it as intended.

If EA isn't outsourcing, they must be hiring banks upon banks of non-gaming knuckleheads to answer support questions with canned responses.  It's frustrating that in today's day and age, you can report the same problems over 3 years of gaming and still come up empty when you ask for a solution.

I digress – and to illustrate what I am talking about, I've put together a short video showing my experience with the support section of EA's website, and with the Battlefield Bad Company website.  I'm really tired of going back and forth and back and forth with support while EA continues to sell millions of games and leave their problems at bay.  I'm hoping that this video will get enough hits on youtube, and enough comments to spark some interest in EA "fixing their shit" so to speak.

Are you frustrated with similar problems?  Visit my youtube channel (http://www.youtube.com/rjnedved) or go directly to the video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UoRimcUZn9U) and post a comment on the video.  For convenience, the video is also embedded below.

Thanks for watching!  and HAPPY GAMING!

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