EA sells well, offers free games, is exploited

We have some good news and some bad news for EA and Maxis today. The good news? SimCity has sold more than 1.1 million copies in just two weeks, and the publisher has revealed your free gift. The bad? The required Origin software contains a bug that leaves millions of gamers vulnerable. We don’t think the good outweighs the bad, here.

[img_big]center,9011,2013-03-05/s58_greyhound_4a_ui.png,SimCity[/img_big]

But still, the good news is pretty good: Despite a “rough” launch week, EA is reporting that more than 1.1 million gamers have picked up a copy of the troubled city-builder, and most of those have been through digital channels.

In other good news, EA is giving a free game to all SimCity gamers who register their copy before March 25, as a way of apologising for the upset. Peruse this list and figure out which one you’d like the most – you’ll get to pick one when a free game portal opens up in your region.

  • Battlefield 3 (Standard Edition)
  • Bejeweled 3
  • Dead Space 3 (Standard Edition)
  • Mass Effect 3 (Standard Edition)
  • Medal of Honor Warfighter (Standard Edition)
  • Need For Speed Most Wanted (Standard Edition)
  • Plants vs. Zombies
  • SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition

Free game portal will roll out in North America on March 20th, Europe on March 21 and Asia/South America on March 22.

An illustration of the Origin vulnerability

An illustration of the Origin vulnerability

…but now for the bad news. Exposed last week at the Black Hat security conference in Amsterdam, the EA Origin client contains a vulnerability that sees attackers able to remotely execute malicious code on players’ computers.

The scary bit? There’s no interaction required by victims. Instead, the hacker modifies and manipulates uniform resource identifiers used by EA – the system used to automatically start games. Of course, in the wrong hands, it can be used to automatically start other applications, including installing malware or other nasties.

The story is explained over at Ars Technica, which cites a research paper from Maltese group ReVuln.

EA is reportedly “investigating” the situation.

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