A gift code provided to EA customers who filled out a survey could be used my multiple people multiple times to unlock PC games on the Origin platform.
Kotaku reports that over the weekend, a select number of gamers registered with EA and/or its digital distribution platform, Origin, received an email to participate in a special survey. Upon completion, these gamers would receive a special code that could be redeemed for one free game on Origin priced $19.99 or more. These titles included Bulletstorm, Dragon Age II, Mass Effect, Darkspore and many more.
But clever gamers in the U.S. and Canada eventually figured out that this code actually unlocked more than just one game, and could be used by more than just one person. They took to Reddit on Saturday to post the good news, and collectively began distributing the codes, looting EA's virtual shelves, and listing the compatible titles which fell prey to the loophole.
What a weekend to be a PC gamer.
According to Kotaku, this site actually provided instructions on how to unlock multiple games with just one code. Customers merely had to add a game to the Origin cart and apply the promo code without logging in, then delete the game, and then actually log into their account. After performing a search, the game would be offered for $0 USD.
Currently it's unknown as to the number of unauthorized games EA distributed freely over the weekend, but the publisher eventually figured out what was going on, and locked the code down until it only provided one free title over $19.99. EA even said it would honor all the sales that were made using the leaked code.
But on Sunday the company killed off the code altogether, locking out all those people who actually took the legitimate route and participated in the survey. Naturally angry consumers took to the EA forums, demanding their promised reward.
"I took the survey and got a promo code for a $20 discount on a game," one customer said. "When I went to redeem the code, it said it was invalid. I think this could be false advertising and possibly fraud. I will check with my attorney with regards to a class-action suit. This is very frustrating but typical of the way that us customers are treated."
EA remained tight-lipped throughout most of the EA bashing party that transpired across the gaming community. Many customers understood why the offer was terminated early – just how much did EA lose by not securing the code properly? Still, those who participated in the survey as requested came up empty handed when trying to redeem the code... which was supposedly valid until October 21.
"I understand why some folks may be frustrated that the coupon code ended early, but the coupon is now expired," one EA community manager said.