Power Button - Episode 158: Christmas In Videoland
Console Wars Deleted Chapter Revealed

Thank You, Origin

We all complain when a company takes an action that is not in a customer's best interest, so I think it's important to take a moment and point out when a company goes the extra mile to make things right even when it doesn't have to do so.  I was cleaning out my media closet this morning and found my old copy of The SimCity Box from Electronic Arts which includes a bundle of classic SimCity games and expansion packs for PC spanning up to 2007's SimCity Societies.  I never got around to installing Societies on my old Windows Vista PC, so I decided to try my luck and install it on my modern Windows 8 PC.  It went about as well as you can imagine.  The installer tried to trigger old Windows XP/Vista functions, launched web links to long-dead EA websites, encouraged me to register my software by dial-up modem or fax machine, and, as a final insult, refused to take a software update patch.  So here I am with an old PC game, a valid product key, and nothing to show for it.

Sometimes it's possible to load old product keys into the Steam marketplace and activate a digital version of a classic game.  SimCity Societies isn't available on Steam, but it is on EA's own Origin service.  Once again feeling lucky, I typed the product key into Origin and clicked the submit button.  Of course, Origin didn't recognize the key.  Still feeling hopelessly optimistic, I decided to try the last resort: EA's technical support.  Everyone has a tech support nightmare to share and here I was volunteering to add another negative experience to my own collection.  Perhaps if I asked nicely, EA could swap out my old product key for a valid Origin code.  It is the season of giving, after all.

The SimCity BoxI connected through live chat to a customer service agent who, as a one-time courtesy, agreed to try and issue an Origin code.  Unfortunately, the code he generated didn't work either.  I ended up having to put the new code into one of EA's registration systems to trigger an update in Origin that added the game to my account.  It was a very roundabout way to make it happen, but it worked in the end.  All that the agent asked for in return is that I send EA a photo of my old product key and DVD along with a handwritten note with today's date and my customer service case number.  I'd imagine the agents deal with people using cracked or fake keys to try and trade for a valid Origin code all the time.  I wasn't surprised that EA wanted proof of my situation, so I sent the photo while the agent remained on the chat line.  What I found curious about all of this was that the agent seemed surprised that my story checked out. I wonder if most people in this situation just close the chat window once they have what they want because they either don't really have a valid key or just don't want to bother.  EA worked with me, so I was happy to work with them to finish the exchange.

I know that EA and Origin take a lot of heat in the gaming community, but when I needed help today, EA came through.  Thanks for your help, EA.  It's things like this that make me a happy customer.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to play SimCity Societies.