A simple coding error has cost Electronic Arts dearly, after a weekend promotion went haywire, handing out free games to just about anyone who asked. A promotional code offered to Origin users gave gamers $20 off any EA published or developed game – and if the game was less than $20 in the first place, you get it free!
It’s a simple promotion, and one that works very neatly, as long as all the proper checks and balances are in place. For EA, they weren’t.
[img_big]center,3556,2010-11-19/grunt3.jpg,Mass Effect 2 was available free[/img_big]
EA decided not to throw in any bells, whistles, catches or gimmicks: Go to store, enter promo code OS3874XVC, get game, celebrate. Unfortunately, the company also apparently decided not to throw in any server-side programming to check that the discount code was only applied once per user.
Curious gamers decided to try using the code both in the Origin client store, as well as via the website… and got two games for their efforts. Someone later discovered that by logging out, the code could be used unlimited times, giving you a pretty serious gaming library at no charge.
Games confirmed to be affected by the glitch include:
- Battlefield 2
- Battlefield 2142
- Battlefield: Bad Company 2
- Burnout Paradise
- Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight
- Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3
- Crysis Warhead
- Dead Space
- Dead Space 2
- Dragon Age: Origins
- Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening
- Dragon Age II
- FIFA 12
- Mass Effect 2
- Mercenaries 2: World in Flames
- Mirror’s Edge
- Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit
- Need For Speed Shift II: Unleashed
- The Saboteur
- Sim City 4
Once this was discovered, the code spread across the internet, and havoc ensued.
The embarrasing glitch was left unfixed for 18 hours, eventually being fixed at around 1AM PST Saturday night (Sunday morning, if you want to get technical). It is unknown just how many video games were downloaded during that period, but many gamers went on a free game spree, “getting revenge” on EA for being a “terrible company”.
It is unknown whether EA will (or can) take any action against gamers who took advantage of the glitch and downloaded multiple titles.