Update 4/18/11: Months later, and there are more issues.

So, what’s the process for starting up your brand new game once you install it?

Other games:

-Download game files in Steam.
-Click Play button.
-Wait while game installs DirectX, etc.
-Play game.

DAO: Ultimate Edition

-Download game files in Steam.
-Click Play button.
-Game does preinstall check, sends you to Bioware website to log in to register game.
-Enter your EA login from previous games on Bioware site.
-Site says login is invalid.
-Try multiple times, login is still invalid.
-Request password change email.
-Receive email.
-Change password.
-Go back to Bioware site, try to login with new password.
-Password is invalid.
-Try multiple times, login is still invalid.
-Give up, register new account with another email address.
-Realize that you’ve had to go through this stupid thing with every single previous Bioware game you’ve installed, and are now out of new email accounts to use.
-Create new free email account.  Use “EA is incompetent” as the username.
-Go back to Bioware site and create new account.
-Finally are able to log in to website.
-The steam game provides two CD keys – one for the main game, the other for the DLC.  DLC code reads as invalid, but game registers.
-Start up game.
-Log in to EA account in-game to authorize the DLC content.
-Login fails with generic system error.
-Go to EA help site to diagnose problem.
-Learn that you can’t login in-game because the in-game login CAN’T HANDLE SPECIAL CHARACTERS IN PASSWORDS.  In 2010.
-Log back into the EA site and change the password.
-Finally login in-game.
-Even though logged in, DLC still won’t “authorize” so that you can actually use it.
-Try to figure out how to authorize DLC, hunt around on help site, to no avail.
-Poke around the Bioware site looking for any helpful link.  Try registering the DLC cd key again, but no link to enter new CD keys for Dragon Age.
-Come across an option to “Enter Promo Code.”  Having nothing else to try, put the “cd key” for the DLC in here.  Surprisingly, it actually works.
-Finally fire up the game and get ready to play it after almost a full hour of teeth-gnashing frustration due to EA’s incredible incompetence.

Now, perhaps I shouldn’t complain as much about this, as I got the “kitchen sink” edition of the game on Steam for a pretty cheap price.  However, it’s still a lot of hassle to go through just to play a game, and it feels even less tolerable in a full-priced, day-zero release (I’m looking at you, equally awful login system in Mass Effect 2).  In fact, honestly, it seems even more ridiculous in this case.  I mean, we’re not talking about a new-release game worried that piracy is going to cut into the high-margin early profits.  We’re talking about a GOTY edition already reduced to half-price.  At this point, isn’t it more cost-effective to just turn off the broken activation DRM and just let the people play the content that’s already on disc?  Seems simple enough, right?  Plus, with PC games, especially downloads (not exactly big resale risks), this sort of DLC activation is a hassle to end-users with no benefit to the company.  Every time someone has to go through this level of hassle to play a game, it makes them that much less likely to seriously consider the next one, knowing what they’ll have to go through in order to play it.

In fairness, I suppose I should mention that were it not for the DLC, the setup would have been slightly less onerous.  However, compare this to my GOTY edition of Oblivion, for instance – everything’s there, no additional accounts or activation hassle, just jump right in and play.

Make up whatever reasons you want, but there’s really no excuse for creating such a broken system, a system that has been broken for over a year since the release of your game (in fact, pretty much broken since at least two games before that).  The notion that I need a new EA account (and an new email account) each time I buy a game from them should immediately be recognized as absolutely absurd.


In summary, the problems:

-EA accounts and Bioware Social accounts are not strictly identical, or do not port password changes between sites, despite being theoretically the same account.
-EA’s login system cannot accept special characters, an amazingly glaring flaw and a sure sign of lazy coding.  Despite this, they mention that restriction nowhere on the site while creating the password for the account, and mark it only with a generic, cryptic error message when the login fails, requiring a fairly in-depth search of EA’s help site to even find the problem.
-The DLC code on Steam is listed as a CD key, when it actually has to be entered into the “promo code” section of the site.  This is never clarified either on Steam or Bioware’s site, leading to someone having to guess that that is the correct place for the DLC code.
-As a composite edition, everything should have been activated simultaneously, or not at all, rather than having to activate two different things in two different places, with no instruction as to which is which.