I first like to preface this with: I love BioWare. I love their games, I love their worlds and I love their characters and I love the experiences they have imparted onto me. Baldur’s Gate is my favorite game of all time. I think that series is the pinnacle of the CRPG.
Right now that that’s out of the way. YOU SUCK!
Let me explain. For those who follow me, or care to pay attention to anything I have to say at all, know I called Dragon Age: Origins my game of the year back in 2009 even though I was only able to play about 12-14 hours of it. After that the game started to stutter and the frame rate made the game unplayable on a pretty low graphics setting. My computer did not have the muscle to keep up anymore. Then a month or so ago I got a new laptop, this one with enough horsepower to pull off pretty much anything any game asked of it at the highest settings. Then last Monday Dragon Age: Origins Ultimate Edition went on sale on Steam as part of a weeklong promotion. I owned the base game and Awakening already, but none of the DLC. I wanted it and this was a third of the price of buying them individually. It was $20. I bought the game and let it download and install overnight.
So I start it up on Tuesday around noon. As it’s checking DirectX and Microsoft something or other as it will do a window pops up reminding my I have to redeem the DLC with a code I can find by left clicking the game in Steam. No problem. I clicked ok after I copied the code to clipboard and it sent me to a web page sign in. I haven’t signed in for months, if not in over a year because I had no reason to. The BioWare social network thing is not in any way, shape or form useful or necessary. I couldn’t remember which email address I used or what form of my password I used. So I tried them all. One of the worked and I activated the code. I started the game up and checked on the DLC. It was all “Unauthorized.”
I clicked the ‘go to my account’ button. It opened another web page with a different account from a different email address. This was where the game was registered thanks to Steam.
After spending some time calming down before talking to a real person at EA support help desk where the BioWare Social Network sent me. Let me repeat that, Steam connected my account and I registered with a BioWare site and had to fix it with EA support.
The first guy was unhelpful. He misunderstood my original problem. I looked up my report and found the question entered had nothing to do with my problem. He tried and I don’t begrudge him. I calmed down again and tried the chat window help desk this time. (After I tried to get a line with Steam to see if I could get a refund. I couldn’t even find contact information.) Nancy, bless her, as soon as I explained it, came back and told me that she had fixed the redeem code. So I tried it. It didn’t work. I told her that and she corrected me by saying no, she had already done it for me with the correct account. I checked and yes it was fixed. I deleted the other account, which shouldn’t have existed in the first place. I’m wondering how it came to be.
So I start up the game to make sure all the DLC is there only to find it is still “Unauthorized.” Back to EA Support. Luckily there was a question there that already addressed my problem and I followed the instructions by going into an XML file and changing all the appropriate 1s into 0s. Now it all works. In total to get my content running took my 3 hours. That’s 3 hours of highly technical work and knowing where to go, what to ask and in the end knowing how to change file information. Those who were on twitter could see my blood pressure rising at this. As Kateri_t put it:
Hell some of them were right along with me:
I can’t imagine some guy who bought it on Steam knowing even half of this. How would an unplugged consumer who didn’t keep up with news, have a twitter support network of technophiles and an above reasonable amount of computer technical knowledge cope with this problem? Anecdotally this is a pretty common problem for their DLC too if my informal straw poll of twitter is anything to go by. Why is it a problem? Because they put so much bullshit, unnecessary hurdles, stopgaps and walls in the way of registering paid content. It occurs to me now I could have gotten a fan made crack patch and circumvented the whole thing. I am the paying customer and got the shaft by doing things the right way.
I don’t blame BioWare. I blame EA. I think I have compelling evidence for why too. EA set up this stupid DRM scheme by which you have to be logged in to their servers to play a single player game. For it to work it has to be registered and connected. If you want to play the DLC it has to be constantly connected. So if your connection goes out or hiccups, or EA servers go down like they did a month and a half ago, or you play with a PC that just isn’t plugged in at the moment means that your single player game WILL NOT WORK. Then there is the system for buying your content. You have to purchase BioWare points, a dumb enough idea when Microsoft did it, but at least those work for the whole console and not one companies games. Then you have to purchase them on a different website. I was offered EA store credit to rebuy some of the DLC, except they don’t sell the DLC on the EA store. I blame EA because BioWare already has an elegant solution in place.
If it weren’t for this reminder message popping up and then sending me to the Social Network site to redeem the code I could have done it in the main menu of the game. There is a selection called Downloadable content and an option in there that says “REDEEM CODE.” You can also buy the stuff there directly. No fuss, no mistakes, no talking to customer support reps. Keep is simple.
The other issue is, I bought the Ultimate Edition. The DLC was included with this version of the game. It downloaded when I downloaded the game from Steam and installed along with it. I purchased a game where the content came with it, but I had to register the DLC…why? The purpose of the Ultimate Edition was to have there be no need to buy all the DLC individually; it’s on the disc or Steam download as the case may be. Why did I have to register it when you know for a fact it’s part of the game and comes with every copy of the Ultimate Edition?
I don’t see EA or BioWare changing their practices on either front of this anytime soon. I nearly spent $20 for a new desktop icon. I was able to resolve the issue after 3 hours. I got lucky. I was lucky I knew what I was doing and had friends on Steam who could and were willing to help me and put up with me.
So when the inevitable Dragon Age II: Ultimate Edition/GOTY Edition comes out and I get that, I hope they’ll have fixed the user interface and process to getting the free DLC which is already on the damn disc. All I can do at this point is reaffirm my original statement.