Good job, guys. Publishing giant EA just managed to ban every resident of Myanmar from Origin, its digital service for PC games, preventing users from either buying games or playing the existing games that they’ve already purchased.
The outage was first widely reported on Reddit on Sunday afternoon, though goes back at least a few days earlier. People who tried to login to their accounts are simply given an ‘Access Denied’ error message and left entirely unable to access their games, including new releases like Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2.
Now here’s where it gets a little trickier. After a few days of silence, an EA service rep explained that, “We are working to restore access to Origin for our players in Myanmar. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused, and we’ll share updates on timing as soon as possible.”
That’s fine, if hopelessly vague. Except another EA rep went into more detail on Reddit, and confirmed the most popular conspiracy theory regarding the block: it’s all the U.S. government’s fault.
“The short answer here is that this occurred due to the US government trade embargo on Myanmar. In accordance with US law, EA is legally required to restrict online services to residents of countries that are embargoed. This isn’t an EA-specific issue — it’s an issue that impacts all companies offering services that are covered by trade embargoes.
As the OP has noted, the embargo on Myanmar appear to have been lifted earlier this month. Accordingly, EA is internally reviewing the situation and looking into whether and when service can be restored to Myanmar residents.
It’s unclear to me whether we can do anything for residents of other countries that are still similarly embargoed, but I’ll bring the topic up for discussion internally.”
Setting aside the fact that EA apparently only began to enforce the embargo weeks after it was put into effect, this finally reveals the horrifying future of international politics, where videogames and their services will be segregated along nationalistic lines.
Does Japan stop playing ball with the U.S.? Say goodbye to the Nintendo Switch. If France kicks off, that’ll be it for Assassin’s Creed. Now the governments of the world know they can hit us where it hurts: right in our videogames.