Despite my earlier negative experiences (which I put into an unresearched from-memory historical context), I eventually did buy Battlefield 1943 and I did, and continue to, enjoy it. It won’t have legs unless there is serious post-launch support (new maps), because the three included maps will get tired after a while, but for an affordable download-only release it is super solid and enjoyable. But this is not a review of the game.
What I do want to talk about is the overall experience around the application.
As games are increasingly communicate with internet services and accounts and APIs and social networks and other things outside of the scope of the game itself, the user experience around these features becomes increasingly important. As user interaction grows in complexity the number of possible points of failure rises. I hate that this is an issue and I hate referring to an interactive game by its more workman-like nature, as an application, but if your first moments with a game are nothing but forms and errors and emails then your first impressions will be clouded by this. It will influence your opinion of a release despite its actual in-game merits.
After my initial failures I resorted to Google and surmised that my problems with Battlefield 1943 related to it not syncing with an EA account. I thought this was weird as I’ve long since had an account because of Burnout Paradise and Mirror’s Edge, amongst others. I went to EA.com and tried to login. I failed.
I tried multiple passwords and multiple possible account names and nothing worked. I tried the “forgot your password” feature and still got nothing. Frustrated, I said “fuck it” and created a new account. First, before I was to give EA yet another email address, I went to my domain’s web admin and created a new alias just for them: EA_you_fucks@the-…. I registered, with the system not giving me any guff for my colourful address, and waited for the confirmation email to arrive. I verified it and then went to “add a persona” to link the account with my XBox username.
Failure. I knew I had linked it before. Wondering what the fuck was going on I realized that it was probably linked to that “EA Classic Screen Name” option. So I went for that and it asked me for my classic username and password; like I remembered that shit.
It took me a number of attempts before I deduced that my actual Classic login was nowakEA. I submitted it and waited for my password change confirmation email. I thought about the ridiculousness of EA’s system: I just created a login n0wak_ea so that I could access my old n0wakEA login which links to my XBox Live n0wak login. EA’s system guys need to do some research into Windows Live ID or OpenID or anything better than this.
The email came, I changed my password, I linked the classic EA account and linked my XBox Live account. All these hoops just so I can play a game? I searched around online for other experiences and saw all sorts of other issues, many being resolved by downloading a completely unrelated EA game’s demo because it syncs accounts better than Battlefield 1943. The lesson here is that dedicated gamers are a tolerant and persistent bunch willing to go through this hassle to get their fix. They have decades of experience with lousy interfaces.
That’s why, having been playing Halo 3 again, I really have to give Bungie my highest praise. They do everything EA wants to do and a shit-ton more, but they make sure that it’s all transparent. You can jump in and play the game without worrying about anything, but if you want to see your stats and records and file share and everything else on the Bungie site, you can. You’re not forced into it, and you’re not blocked from playing the game unless you create a Bungie account.
That’s the way to do it. Don’t force people to fuss around poorly thought-out web registration systems just so they can play a game on a completely separate platform. Gamers might be tolerant but don’t push your luck, not after other developers, like Bungie, are showing people the light.
In the end I figured that if EA‘s system was giving me so much grief I might as well go ahead and get the Playstation network id linked while I still had my browser open. I went to “Add Persona” again, put in my Playstation id, and…
Fuck it. And you too EA.