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EA Takes Over Scrabble App, Wipes Player Histories and Switches Dictionary

Soulskill posted about 10 months ago | from the you're-welcome dept.

Classic Games (Games) 197

New submitter DeathToBill writes "EA is in the midst of another user backlash, the BBC reports. After EA took over operation of the online Scrabble brand, it introduced a 'new and improved' version. Improvements include requiring manual refreshes to see other players' turns, irretrievably wiping players' game history and a switch to the Collins dictionary (rather than the traditional Chambers edition) that has proved deeply unpopular with Scrabble fanatics. "EA was unavailable for comment.""

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197 comments

Pizza (-1, Offtopic)

biy55 (2951825) | about 10 months ago | (#44010043)

I live my pizza better tham EA is willing to make. Zynga is my favorite one. i mean come on, you gotta have some pineapple in it!

Re:Pizza (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44010143)

i think this dictionary swap is having a larger effect then expected.

Re:Pizza (-1, Offtopic)

kubernet3s (1954672) | about 10 months ago | (#44010237)

Is this real life?

Re:Pizza (1, Insightful)

mephox (1462813) | about 10 months ago | (#44010335)

Is this reality?

Re:Pizza (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44010357)

(Is this just fantasy.)

Re:Pizza (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44010465)

caught in a landslide

Re:Pizza (3, Insightful)

Agent0013 (828350) | about 10 months ago | (#44010501)

no escape from reality

Re:Pizza (3)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 10 months ago | (#44010679)

Open your eyes,

Re:Pizza (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44010809)

Look up to the skies and seeeeeeee.........

Re:Pizza (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44010877)

Open your eyes

Re:Pizza (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44010403)

Is this just fantasy?

Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality

Open your eyes, look up to the skies and see...

Really? (-1)

Moses48 (1849872) | about 10 months ago | (#44010063)

This article is about how you can get free advertisement. Move along.

Re:Really? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44010113)

This article is about how you can get free advertisement. Move along.

Yep, because nothing makes me more interested in checking out a game than learning of an unpopular change.

It serves as a reminder that EA are a bunch of assholes. Lest we forget.

Re:Really? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44010563)

It serves as a reminder that EA are a bunch of assholes. Lest we forget.

I had that tattooed on my ass. I sure hope they never get their act together or I'm going to have some explaining to do.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44010945)

Have fun trying to explain what EA was to your grand kids.

Re:Really? (4, Funny)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 10 months ago | (#44010605)

This article is about how you can get free advertisement. Move along.

Yep, because nothing makes me more interested in checking out a game than learning of an unpopular change.

It serves as a reminder that EA are a bunch of assholes. Lest we forget.

Verily; behold the obligatory [vgcats.com]

Re:Really? (2)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 10 months ago | (#44010683)

And with the XBox One, this vgcats strip now also applies to Microsoft as well as EA.

It's like these two companies don't give a fuck about their own paychecks.

Re:Really? (2, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 10 months ago | (#44010811)

Of course they care about profits, it's all they care about. However, they're not too worried about that when suckers keep buying their crap, regardless of how shitty it is. The vgcats comic is right: if you don't like the game, why did you buy it? Yes, it's hard to try games before you buy them, but MS and EA have long reputations for shittiness, so at this point if you buy anything from them, you deserve whatever you get. It's not like you're taking a chance on some new indie game studio's product; I've been reading stories about how awful EA is for well over a decade now.

Re:Really? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 10 months ago | (#44010967)

Of course they care about profits, it's all they care about. However, they're not too worried about that when suckers keep buying their crap, regardless of how shitty it is. The vgcats comic is right: if you don't like the game, why did you buy it? Yes, it's hard to try games before you buy them, but MS and EA have long reputations for shittiness, so at this point if you buy anything from them, you deserve whatever you get. It's not like you're taking a chance on some new indie game studio's product; I've been reading stories about how awful EA is for well over a decade now.

My posting of the comic has nothing to do with the quality of Mass Effect 3 on launch day, and everything to do with the attitude that companies like EA have towards their customers (without whom there would be no EA).

But yea, you are right in a "fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me" sense.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44010815)

It serves as a reminder that EA are a bunch of assholes. Lest we forget.

I bought a couple of their ipad apps (scrabble and monopoly) on sale. They suck so hard I won't ever buy any other game with the EA name attached to it.

Re:Really? (1)

interval1066 (668936) | about 10 months ago | (#44010925)

Testify! Just yesterday I was reading some guff here and there about EA's damage control for their plainly bad player relations history. Now this. *facepalm*

Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated. (4, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | about 10 months ago | (#44010099)

This seems like the perfect use case for side loading. Avoid whatever misbegotten version EA has managed to put in the official "app store" and install some illicit clone.

It's sad when an official release has you reaching for the equivalent of "Hack Man".

Re:Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44010131)

Also known as copyright infringement. You should respect EA's copyright.

Re:Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44010217)

If you've purchased an older version of the app, why wouldn't you be allowed to use an older version of the app?

Or perhaps more directly, why should EA be allowed to execute updates on your device?

Re:Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated. (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | about 10 months ago | (#44010637)

Probably because it won't matter. Besides the refresh to see new moves downgrade, everything else changed is likely serverside - dictionary and player history seem like they wouldn't be stored permanently in users' phones' memories.

Re:Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated. (5, Informative)

Intropy (2009018) | about 10 months ago | (#44010281)

You can't copyright a set of rules. You can patent them. You can copyright the specific wording explaining the rules that Scrabble uses. You can trademark the name Scrabble, and the appearance of Scrabble would be trade dress. The patent on Scrabble expired a long time ago. Anyone is free to make a Scrabble clone as long as it doesn't look so similar to the original that people would think it is authorized by the company that owns the original.

Copyright the bonus squares (3, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | about 10 months ago | (#44010589)

You can't copyright a set of rules.

But you can copyright the locations of bonus squares, even if it deeply affects the game's strategy. That's why Words With Friends (doesn't someone else own the trademark on those initials? [someblogsite.com] ) uses a diamond-shape motif instead of Scrabble's X shape motif. Yes, I know it's like copyrighting the dimensions of a basketball court.

Re:Copyright the bonus squares (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 10 months ago | (#44011101)

Isn't copyright expressly prohibited from covering informational content and functional elements?

Re:Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated. (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 10 months ago | (#44011091)

Hmm, and at that hasn't Scrabble considerably outlived any patent lifespans? I kow I played it as a child yonks ago. So no copyright protection, no patent protection, all that leaves is trademark, and I don't think that's allowed to cover functional elements. So just call it Word Scramble and everything should be fine.

Re:Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated. (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 10 months ago | (#44011097)

Anyone is free to make a Scrabble clone as long as it doesn't look so similar to the original that people would think it is authorized by the company that owns the original.

If the board doesn't look like a Scrabble board, if it doesn't have the same number of squares, and the same bonus tiles in the same position, then it's not a Scrabble clone at all.

Re:Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated. (2)

wbr1 (2538558) | about 10 months ago | (#44010527)

It is an -online- game. You play with others. Your sideloaded older version won't authenticate with the servers. This in itself is a good thing, to prevent older exploited code form communication, and to make sure clients are using the same basic resources and interfaces to any underlying APIs.

Electronic fArts (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44010101)

Terrible company.

How is this newsworthy? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44010105)

Isn't it just common knowledge that EA destroys everything they touch and have zero respect for gamers?

Re:How is this newsworthy? (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 10 months ago | (#44010375)

Isn't it just common knowledge that EA destroys everything they touch and have zero respect for gamers?

What kind of amazes me(not entirely, given how EA manages to fuck up things like 'Origin' so completely), is that none of the player-shafting here appears to have actually been in EA's interests...

Manual refresh to see the other player's move? That's just insanity. If anything, the bandwidth eaten by players hammering 'refresh' impatiently will be substantially greater than just having the server push things down when the other player submits their move.

Nuking play histories? Probably made some DBA's life easier(but since when has EA given a damn about the tech peons?), at the expense of cutting existing customers' perceived 'investment' in the platform. Good job, guys...

Switching dictionaries? You'd better have a convincing story about how usurious the licensing costs were for the official one; because the reaction from the hardcore scrabble heads was totally predictable. Those guys are Serious.

Had they taken it over and then larded it with DLC, microtransactions,(Would you like to buy a vowel?), and in-game ads for assorted discordant products, that'd be merely lawful evil of them. This is just stupid evil.

Re:How is this newsworthy? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44010553)

The new software development team decided that the code that they inherited "needed" a total rewrite, and now the product is less fully-featured than it was before the acquisition.

Come on, you've seen that happen hundreds of times by now, all throughout the industry.

Nuking player histories is good ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44010593)

Nuking player history make a perverse sort of sense, assuming EA doesn't have a subscription model. I mean, these are people who've already bought the game. Now they're just an expense, right? Adios, suckers.
Works fine this quarter.

Re:How is this newsworthy? (4, Informative)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 10 months ago | (#44010641)

From 2003 [absp.org.uk]

STATEMENT FROM PHILIP NELKON (MATTEL) AS ISSUED IN DECEMBER SCRABBLE CLUB NEWS

After a great deal of heart-searching, Mattel have decided to end their 20-year relationship with Chambers. The decision was not taken lightly and we all have the utmost respect for the continual development of OSW that Chambers have masterminded over the years.

Our new partner is Harper Collins, publishers of the number one selling dictionary in the UK - Collins English Dictionary.

Sounds like old news-- though my ipad's scrabble app did update its dictionary options fairly recently. Since I'm a novice and have not yet memorized the dictionary,, I took little notice of the change.

Re:How is this newsworthy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44010655)

Manual refresh to see the other player's move? That's just insanity. If anything, the bandwidth eaten by players hammering 'refresh' impatiently will be substantially greater than just having the server push things down when the other player submits their move.

More refreshes mean more advertisements.

Re:How is this newsworthy? (1)

Paperweight (865007) | about 10 months ago | (#44010915)

They don't even need to bother differentiating between stupid and lawful evil. If they're evil enough they're bound to make money somehow.

Re:How is this newsworthy? (1)

hypergreatthing (254983) | about 10 months ago | (#44011057)

Because every time you refresh you can show a new ad.
Because hurr durr lets try and save some money, switch dictionaries around.
Because a new manager/bean counter wants a fat raise.

Re:How is this newsworthy? (1)

PRMan (959735) | about 10 months ago | (#44011107)

The dictionary (SOWPODS [wikipedia.org] ) is a factual list and not subject to copyright. They don't even need to license it. You can easily download it free from tons of places.

That's Right EA. (1)

Krojack (575051) | about 10 months ago | (#44010109)

Keep digging that hole you're in even deeper.

Re:That's Right EA. (5, Insightful)

grasshoppa (657393) | about 10 months ago | (#44010207)

What hole? Users still line up to buy their shit. EA execs know gamers will continue to fork over the cash for shit. As a gamer myself, I can't help but marvel at the stupidity that requires.

Watch; EA has control of star wars. I guarantee they pull the same shit with forthcoming SW games, and they'll make a mint regardless of the quality of the game itself, nor how the company chooses to abuse the consumer this time around. Oh, we'll all whine, bitch and moan. Then we'll turn around and buy the DLC and expansions.

Re:That's Right EA. (4, Interesting)

amiga3D (567632) | about 10 months ago | (#44010379)

I think sometimes that people like getting screwed by the companies they do business with. It is some kind of perverse relationship. You give them money and they fuck you. It's been doing well for them. I bought a game from them back in the Commodore 64 days. For 39.95 I got a game that took about 5 and a half minutes to load and hammered my C1541 disk drive into misalignment with the added bonus it got so hot I could use it to boil water as well. Me being the type that holds a grudge I pirated EA games from that point on. Besides the obvious monetary savings I got games that loaded in about 20-30 seconds and my disk drive stayed in alignment. Win-Win!

Re:That's Right EA. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44010581)

Well, shucks. I guess their HotPlate app was just ahead of its time!

Exclusive rights to football (3, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | about 10 months ago | (#44010627)

Users still line up to buy their shit.

They have no choice. With EA owning exclusive rights to the National Football League, Arena Football, NCAA, and even FIFA, what league is a competing developer of football video games supposed to use? Fictional leagues don't work so well because the majority of people buy the game to play as a particular team.

Re:Exclusive rights to football (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 10 months ago | (#44010847)

So what? No one needs to play a football game, much less one with particular real-life teams hardcoded in rather than fictional teams.

If people think they absolutely need such a game that much, then they're a fool and they deserve to be separated from their money. I have zero sympathy.

Re:That's Right EA. (1)

JakeBurn (2731457) | about 10 months ago | (#44010603)

People said the same thing years ago when they ruined Dark Age of Camelot trying to make believe they could force a better game in Warhammer. So to be completely honest, they seem to be getting better since now each decision only f's up one game instead of two at the same time.
I haven't bought anything by EA since and will never buy a game that needs Origin regardless of what studio makes it. Too many other choices to waste time with a company like EA.

100% user hit rate. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44010115)

Well, I'd say that's one way to piss off not just part of your user base, but every single player at the same time.

That's actually...sadly impressive.

Feeding the Beast (5, Insightful)

Major Ralph (2711189) | about 10 months ago | (#44010147)

The problem with EA is that they have shitty customer relations/service, and are incredibly greedy. So people get all pissed off and swear they'll never buy another game published by EA ever again. But we forget that EA owns a lot of really great developers that make some kickass games (Anyone excited for the new Battlefront?). So we end up buying the awesome games and just feed the beast a little more.

Re:Feeding the Beast (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44010353)

The problem with EA is that they have shitty customer relations/service, and are incredibly greedy. So people get all pissed off and swear they'll never buy another game published by EA ever again. But we forget that EA owns a lot of really great developers that make some kickass games (Anyone excited for the new Battlefront?). So we end up buying the awesome games and just feed the beast a little more.

Nope, not excited for Battlefront at all.

I think what most people are missing is that if the EA brand name ever gets sullied enough that most consumers start avoiding them, they'll just change their name and logo. Sure, the serious gamers won't fall for it, but they'll keep raking in the cash from the other 99% of people who buy video games.

Re:Feeding the Beast (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44010415)

As one person out of the 7+ billion on the planet, I can say that EA has lost my business. I loved Dragon Age - and then they killed the game play and I never bought any of the subsequent DLC packs, nor any of the DA sequel games. I loved Mass Effect 2 - and then they botched ME3 (which tragically I bought) - but I have never bought any additional DLC packs, nor will I be buying ME4.

EA could have made much more money from me if they would allow the game developers to actually create good games. Instead there is a clear trend that EA pushes the game developers (who created great games prior to being bought by EA) to cut corners and schedules and then lose potential revenue (which is ironic given that EA is clearly thinking that this strategy is making them money).

In terms of whether EA is making the right choices, well, look at their stock price (which has been dropping for some time), look at the lest of key people who have left EA recently - it is pretty clear that EA is not well run and is not actually making money - mostly because it is run by bankers who only understand the concept of "spend less money" and have no idea what a game company has to do to *make* money...

Re:Feeding the Beast (5, Interesting)

Dan93 (222999) | about 10 months ago | (#44010567)

They own a lot of brands that USED to be great before EA bought them, and ran them into the ground. Before EA bought Bioware, I used to buy Bioware's games without knowing much about them because Bioware always made outstanding games. Since EA bought them, the quality of those games has went down the toilet, and I honestly doubt I'll buy the next dragon age game that comes out simply because DA 2 was complete shit. Honestly, it was the same with the Mass Effect games. Same with Maxis, and a dozen other brands.

Re:Feeding the Beast (1)

jandrese (485) | about 10 months ago | (#44010949)

Yep, I was glad that the last Mass Effect was the final game of the trilogy, because now I don't have to buy it again. Also, the game was such a disaster (IMHO) that it pretty much ruined the franchise for me anyway. I mean the books were horrible too, but they were tertiary, you could ignore them pretty easily. Having the final game suck harder than Phantom Menace was inexcusable.

Self-destruction trend (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44010171)

Pioneered by Microsoft, now Nintendo, and now game publishers

are they still scrabbling around for a reponse (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44010179)

or just lost for words?

Re:are they still scrabbling around for a reponse (1)

BLToday (1777712) | about 10 months ago | (#44010257)

neither, they're trying to find some friends to play word games with them.

New Rule (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44010205)

All media must stop writing about EA anything. Everyone else can/must happily forget they ever existed and shall hence forth ignore all EA based products.

As a side note, the fact that EA can continue to make such a horrible experience for their customers and still be profitable and/or in business is a testament to the sad state of our existence. We have such an instant gratification culture (mainly in US but it is spreading globally) that we are often will to pay to forget the sins of the past so long as the potential for more cheap gratification exists.

Restoring data (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44010223)

The data is not lost forever. It might not be compatible with the current version, but that data is on a backup somewhere. If EA returns to the old edition, they could easily restore users' scores and stats.

Re:Restoring data (2)

BattleApple (956701) | about 10 months ago | (#44011135)

EA probably said they didn't want the data, or didn't want to bother transferring it, so Mattel destroyed it. It could have been a requirement in the contract.

so glad to see EA is back in the game again. (5, Funny)

nimbius (983462) | about 10 months ago | (#44010259)

after the latest SimCity i was afraid i might never see EA release another title again. However with this latest acquisition i can see EA is still dedicated to the tradition of alienating consumers, infuriating players, and pedaling the franchise ever further into the dirt. A worry had crossed my mind that perhaps they might suddenly change direction, or maybe continue the sincere course the original developers had maintained for so long in order to foster a thriving online gaming community. Yet once i heard "EA was unavailable for comment," I signed in relief and smiled to myself, knowing somewhere, somehow, John Riccitiello's biggest care in the world was trying to find a port of call that not only offered both legitimate cuban cigars as well as fine vintage scotch, but could also fit the likes of his superyacht in on short-notice. Carry on you brave pioneer of the digital age.

Re:so glad to see EA is back in the game again. (1)

leonardluen (211265) | about 10 months ago | (#44010389)

With the new Xbox, Microsoft seems to be trying really hard to compete with EA for the top spot of alienating their customers

Re:so glad to see EA is back in the game again. (2)

Quince alPillan (677281) | about 10 months ago | (#44010513)

I'm sure the new Madden 2015 or the new Need for Speed for the XBOX One will be the trifecta of poor customer service.

Re:so glad to see EA is back in the game again. (1)

Dan93 (222999) | about 10 months ago | (#44010609)

True, but EA has been doing it longer, and they're better at it, at least in the gaming comunity.

Re:so glad to see EA is back in the game again. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44010929)

With the new Xbox, Microsoft seems to be trying really hard to compete with EA for the top spot of alienating their customers

THAT'S the Microsoft we know and love to hate! Sure glad they're coming back to chase out these new whippersnappers in the hate category!

Re:so glad to see EA is back in the game again. (2)

jandrese (485) | about 10 months ago | (#44010963)

Are you kidding? The Xbone is everything Microsoft's customers said they wanted.

What? Oh, you're confused. Microsoft's customers aren't the people who buy their console, they're EA, Activision, etc... That's who the console was designed for.

Re:so glad to see EA is back in the game again. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44011171)

you forget win8

The board I have at home is operating correctly... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44010345)

Along with my paper dictionary.

EA and the NSA continue to demonstrate that the digital world is too fragile for society to rely on.

Three Years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44010479)

Three years running?

All 4 users must be pissed (1, Funny)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 10 months ago | (#44010499)

All 70-somethings whose children gave them IPads for christmas must be really upset!

way to go slashdot! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44010517)

a whole page of bullshit stories! good job.

This is why EA sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44010775)

And when they win worst company in america again next year, they're going to complain about it again.

To be clear: This is for non-US (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44010779)

In the US, EA has been the Scrabble app provider for some time, and nothing has changed.

It's outside the US that this impacts people. Presumably the wiping of histories is due to a lack of agreement between parties.

Oh come now (1)

jameshofo (1454841) | about 10 months ago | (#44010797)

They probably just did a "mv" rather than a "cp" when they where exporting the data to a USB stick to send to the NSA. I'm sure such a respected company such as E...A.... oh those guys. Yea "supprise!", you mean you thought the company of Entertainment Assholes was afraid of shaking up a few pesky users?

EA don't get into the pinball market you just F* i (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 10 months ago | (#44010825)

EA don't get into the pinball market you just F* it up and your 80 hour work weeks will just take the devs and coders time away so they can't show up and play at local arcades.

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