Just because it’s almost New Year’s doesn’t mean that this incredibly crappy year for gaming online is over just yet. Reports have been circulating on community sites such as Reddit that Origin users have been discovering unauthorized purchases and other activity on their accounts. Such discrepancies include achievements showing up for games people don’t own and in some cases, people finding that their accounts have been banned after being used to purchase FIFA and farm coins.
While there has been no official statement from EA on the matter as yet, it’s looking increasingly like Origin has been hacked (again). The service is one of several that have been plagued with hacks, the last alleged attack only occurring last month. It’s just an extra helping on top of the pile of shame that has been online gaming services this year, especially following the DDoS attacks that have plagued Xbox Live and PSN over the holiday period.
Now while DDoS attacks aren’t actual hacks, in this case we are talking about a genuine risk to people’s account and payment details, so we strongly recommend at least changing your password ASAP. Remember when everyone was worried about the always-online environment carrying the risk of losing your games in the future? It turns out that we should’ve been more worried about being able to use our games in the first place, judging by the repeated failure of online-based services and games this year. While the blame is primarily on the losers that perpetrate these crimes in the first place, it’s worrying to see just how little power companies currently have to curb this behaviour. That’s something that needs to change, but also carries no small amount of risk to everyone’s privacy and freedom. It’s not hard to see companies implementing measures just to keep their games and services running, that make DRM and its attendant controversy look like a pillow fight – a pessimistic interpretation perhaps, but the fact is that nobody wants to go through a year like this again, least of all an industry that has gone to great lengths (and massive expense) to train the public into gaming as an always-online space.
Either way, answers need to start coming soon. In the meantime, change your passwords and get in the habit of doing so regularly, if you aren’t doing so already. We may increasingly have to rely on online services, but it’s going to be some time before any of us can afford to trust them.