Procrastination Amplification: Punditry on MMOs and games in general.

Privacy: Origin(s)

If you’re not living in Germany, you might have completely missed this: The EULA for Origin (EA’s competitor to Steam which is required to play Battlefield 3, will be required to play Mass Effect 3 and is likely to be required to play Star Wars: The Old Republic) contains extensive liberties for EA to collect data about your PC usage and the content of your hard drive. YouTube videos can be found that show that Origin even looks through the folders of your steam installation and your tax software.

Germany has always been a rough ground for companies where privacy is concerned. We both have rather restrictive laws on the topic and a large portion of interested populace. The current issue with Origin quickly found its way into mainstream media outlets as well and even got retailers like Amazon to take back opened and used copies of PC games (Battlefield 3, which by now has 2230 1-star reviews out of 2429 reviews on the German Amazon).  I’m pretty sure that neither the EULA nor the spyware functions of Origin are legal in Germany and it is to be expected that there will be a change sooner or later. The question is though whether it will be in time for SW:TOR or not.

If not, I’m in a bit of a conundrum. I really want to try SW:TOR, but I don’t see myself giving EA the right to spy out everything I do and share it with third parties as well! It’s bad enough that all my online behavior is being tracked by Google, Facebook, and co, but having even my offline behavior spied upon is just wrong. Not even to speak about the fact that I have sensitive data on my machine that I’m not legally allowed to share with EA. By giving them the option to scan my hard drive I’m essentially committing a felony. I’m not prepared to do that.

I don’t really care about BF3 and I’ll just hope that the German protests will lead to a change fast enough – , and they probably will. It seems really odd to me, though, that other countries don’t seem to care.


  • Agreed !
    Nils´s last blog post ..What Games Are: Conclusion

  • Another solution could be another machine completely dedicated to gaming only 🙂

  • I’m guilty of not knowing about Origin’s privacy infringement, much less its extent (tax software?!!).
    While I’m a veto-on-principle kind of guy so this doesn’t affect me, I’m very surprised this hasn’t been more widespread in the news. Thanks for covering this.

  • @Ahtchu: Alas, most of the sources on it are in German, so I can’t really point you anywhere. has a good coverage of news and general media response on the topic, but it is fully German. Maybe you can run it through Google translator or something if you are really interested.

    A YT search for “origin” also gives a lot of hits on the topic, though I’m not sure whether you’ll see the same videos from outside Germany.
    scrusi´s last blog post ..Privacy: Origin(s)

  • I heard about this a few weeks ago. I am basically holding off on all Origin-required games to see what happens from all this. So far the only game I want that requires Origin is Mass Effect 3. I may just have to go without it if EA doesn’t change their terms, but that’s okay to me for privacy’s sake. You should probably have a separate computer for work though. I’m not sure what kind of work you do, but a workstation computer is really cheap these days.

  • Origin isn’t needed for SWTOR.

  • @WildCard: Thanks, I’ve been informed about this on G+ as well. That is good news, though it makes me wonder whether I should cancel my pre-order (because I picked the digital distribution version which DOES require Origin.)
    scrusi´s last blog post ..Privacy: Origin(s)