Electronic Arts made a recent change to its Origin online store and gaming service that displays users' real names rather than pseudonyms.
EA may have made its way back into the good graces of some more forgiving gamers recently thanks to the tremendous success of Apex Legends, but, in typical triple-A publisher fashion, they already seem to have found a way to mess that up. It certainly isn’t as large a scandal as something like the Star Wars Battlefront II loot box controversy of late 2017, but it could have them facing legal action all the same as the result of an unintentional and irresponsible data breach.
Dutch gaming website 4Gamers announced on the 18th of February that Electronic Art’s Origin platform had reverted to displaying the actual names of some users rather than their account IDs. The story was also forwarded by a whistleblower on Reddit who reported that the service's setting allowing players to display their real names may be enabled by default. While this wouldn’t seem like something totally outlandish compared to the company’s typical exploits, it may come as a major shock to new Origin enrollees since the platform is irrevocably tied to Apex Legends on PC.
While whatever bogus name you’ve chosen for your account while desperately hoping to skip through Origin’s sign up process may be embarrassing, it probably isn’t quite as humiliating as displaying your real-life name for friends and enemies alike to see. In-game grief may be one thing, but online nutters gaining access to any personal info is another can of worms entirely.
While this can be changed relatively easily via a brief check through Origin’s “EA Account and Billing” options menu (which is located under the “Origin” tab on the top left corner of the program’s UI), this foul-up could potentially spell trouble for Electronic Arts. As pointed out by a Reddit user responding to the original PSA posted to r/Games, this may constitute a GDPR violation. In the European Union, the private information of citizens is protected by what’s known as the General Data Protection Regulation, which imposes strict laws regarding the dissemination of personally-identifiable info.
This can be fixed by going through Origin's "EA Account And Billing" menu.
Of course, EA’s legal team isn’t likely to make them out to be responsible for what could amount to thousands of violations in the European Union. While the case isn’t likely to make it all that far in court, it serves as yet another example of why Electronic Arts is often less than trustworthy.
There are some people out there who actually prefer to go by their real names online, however, and Sony even made foregoing a username on PSN a possibility back in 2013. That said, most savvy internet users are pretty protective over their personal information, and this admittedly minor breach of security will have an impact on the publisher’s already shabby reputation.