Electronic Arts would really like you to stop hating the company and start using Origin, its digital delivery service for PC games. As such, EA is now allowing refunds on its own first-party games through Origin.
Refunds will be available within 24 hours of first launching the game, or within seven days of purchase—whichever comes first. For pre-ordered games, players can request a refund within seven days of the game's release date.
To claim the refund, players must fill out a request form and “answer a few quick questions,” EA said in a blog post. Players will get a response within 48 hours, and will get their refunds in seven to 10 days if the refund is approved. The offer only applies to EA's own games, not third-party games sold through Origin.
Although there appears to be no limit to how many refunds you can request, EA's terms of service say that refunds “may not be supported where Electronic Arts detects fraud or abuse of the refund process.”
Once in a blue moon
Refunds on software are not particularly common, especially in games, where you're typically stuck with a purchase after removing the shrink wrap. The popular PC gaming service Steam, for instance, does not offer refunds or exchanges. Green Man Gaming and GamersGate only offer refunds in rare circumstances, and GOG only permits refunds if you haven't downloaded the game yet.
But EA needs to go the extra mile to win back some affection from customers. The company has admitted that it has an image problem—having been voted “ worst company in America” by Consumerist readers for two years in a row—and seems to be trying to change.
In addition to allowing refunds for PC games, EA recently abandoned its Online Pass anti-used game program, and after last year's SimCity fiasco, the company gave all players a free game for their troubles. Right now, EA is offering a pay-what-you-want bundle of several PC games, with all proceeds going to charity.
While the best thing EA can do over the long-term is release better games instead of watering down its popular franchises, the combination of giveaways and policy changes is a good short-term way for EA to rebuild its reputation. We'll know the company has made progress if it isn't voted the worst in America next year.