Star Wars Battlefront: EA Rep And Reddit Mods Caught In Corruption Scandal

Several months ago when the Star Wars: Battlefront alpha tests were being conducted Electronic Arts had a non-disclosure agreement in place to prevent people from leaking footage and talking aboutt he alpha in public spaces. Well, Star Wars: Battlefront community manager Mathew Everett had requested  Reddit moderators over on the Star Wars: Battlefront sub-Reddit to delete, censor and remove content that EA didn’t want the public consuming in exchange for free alpha access. The moderators obliged.

The theories from gamers that big AAA publishers like EA, Microsoft and Activision attempt to squash negative dissent in the gaming community using subversion tactics and reputation managers has been a conspiracy for a long time. However, it’s rare that such a form of corruption ever gets exposed. Between gaming media being corrupt and many moderators and administrators at top news aggregators also being corrupt, it makes it tough to come across proof of wrongdoing that can be properly exposed. Well, that all changed when a Reddit administrator stepped in to replace the moderators of the Star Wars: Battlefront sub-Reddit after they discovered collusion to hide and censor content between EA community manager Mathew Everett and the Reddit moderators.

PlayStation Lifestyle did a very in-depth write-up about the situation, noting that Reddit administrator Sporkicide posted a message requesting new moderators after all of the mods from the Star Wars: Battlefront sub were removed. The sub currently has more than 41,000 subscribers and a post by user Timbob12 indicated worry given that the game is so close to release and the sub has no mods.

Well, Sporkicide briefly explained why the mods were removed, stating…

“This message [posted above] is an indicator of something seriously inappropriate and should have been reported to the admins at the time, but there was also additional evidence of EA contacting moderators (and not just of this subreddit) and asking for specific removals and NDA enforcement.

 

“EA has legal options at their disposal to enforce their agreements that do not include violating our user agreement by coercing moderators to do it for them.

 

“[…] What I do have evidence of is an EA employee being directly involved in the removal of posts and enforcement of an EA NDA, both of which are some of the few things that mods are expressly not allowed to do, and which is incredibly inappropriate for a company representative on the site to ask for in the first place, hence the consequences.”

Some people cried “foul” and that EA would not stoop so low as to bribe or influence the kind of content users were made aware of on the Battlefront sub-Reddit. However, this issue did not just crop up recently  and it originally surfaced back on July 3rd, 2015 when then moderator balotelliaguerOOOOOO tried to defend the behavior of the moderators on the site after users started to accuse the mods of being paid off and that they were hiding and deleting critical content and comments…

“We HAVE had contact with DICE, but they have not in any way affected our decisions. We just simply do agree with the concept of an NDA. When footage of an alpha is released, it can have poor effects on the judgement of a game.

 

“Simply, our “early” (if you can even call it that) access to the alpha was just a thank you for being the consolidation of info and discussion /r/starwarsbattlefront always has been. Here is a picture of the message of /u/sledgehammer70 sent us asking for our usernames. There isn’t really a time on the message, but as you can see we were able to play a few hours earlier than everyone else at BEST. It wasn’t just us, though. /u/littleredrex did get to play with the Youtuber GassyMexican, and there were probably many other Youtubers sent alpha early access.”

There is an image from Mathew Everett from Electronic Arts asking the moderators from the sub to remove all footage and discussion of alpha footage and content from Star Wars: Battlefront, and offering alpha access as a “thank you”.

A short summary of the exchange sees Everett stating…

“With the Alpha just a few days away and knowing that people love to break NDA’s all the time. I would like to ask that anyone posting Alpha content / feedback etc… you have that post locked and removed if possible.

 

“We have setup a Alpha feedback forum for all alpha participants to post feedback to and they will get that info before they join the Alpha.

 

“Also, as a thank you. Could each of you DM me your Origin e-mail so I can be sure each of you have access to the Alpha?”

Another message back on July 2nd through 3rd earlier this year was also exposed, showing the moderators from the sub joking about being accused of bribery while discussing how to control the conversation and narrative on the sub with an employee from Electronic Arts.

Another message shows balotelliaguerOOOOOO acknowledging the deal he’s made with EA and DICE about removing content and censoring content that the company didn’t want on the sub, telling a user…

“We’ll be removing [media content and posts] as fast as possible. DICE and EA have been wonderfully helpful to us and have allowed us all (the mod team) early access to the alpha. The LEAST we can do is uphold our end of the NDA and try to enforce it on the subreddit.”

You can see the image of the conversation below, as spotted by The Escapist.

Matthew Everett went by the username of Sledgehammer70 on Reddit before he and the rest of the moderators from the sub were banned for their collusive indiscretions.

According to the Reddit administrator, taking bribes is against the policy of the site, and exchanging favors for a company for promotional purposes is also against the site’s policies for moderation, although there is nothing in the actual moderator moddiquette that specifies anything related to this particular incident. However, this would likely fall under “removing content based on your opinion”, since the posts being removed or censored were not actually in violation of Reddit’s rules.

Littleredrex, a former moderator for the Star Wars: Battlefront sub did post a comment in the /r/NeoGaming thread discussing the topic to explain the situation further, noting that not all the mods were corrupt and not all the mods were on board with censoring the content from the Battlefront alpha test, stating…

“I played the alpha maybe 2 rounds, I didn’t preorder and I don’t plan on buying the game. We did remove direct links to mega and other hosting services because those type of links are not allowed anyways. We also initially removed videos of leaks but since not everyone on the mod team agreed with the NDA policy we discussed prior to sledge messaging us, we allowed the content back on the sub. Keep in mind we only removed leaks for about 4 hours of the first day of alpha, After community feedback and internal discussions we allowed all content from that point on.”

For now it looks as if Reddit will simply replace the moderators and continue business as usual. EA and DICE have been working hard to squelch negative dissent against their upcoming Star Wars: Battlefront game given that most people who do even a little bit of homework on the game will know that they’re paying $60 and getting far less than what was featured in Star Wars: Battlefront 2, which was released a decade ago on the PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC.

Even still, this is just another lesson in the corruption pervasive in the gaming industry at the moment.

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Billy has been rustling Jimmies for years. The GJP cried and their tears became his milkshake. Contact.

38 thoughts on “Star Wars Battlefront: EA Rep And Reddit Mods Caught In Corruption Scandal

  1. Ha ha I still have the picture of the header that one of the dissenting moderators put up before he was banned by the others. Now they themselves get the boot. What goes around comes around, assholes!

    1. Ever since I joined reddit back in 2013 I noticed certain trends in subreddits that I participate in. For example, posts/thread topics that are civil and honest get downvoted into oblivion, while other ridiculous and illogical posts get upvoted to the front page.

      It’s evident from anecdotal evidence that both moderators and posters are complicit in having it their way, or it’s the highway (shadow-bans, spider-bans, banned completely) for those of us who speak-out against an obvious campaign going on. Even some redditors have admitted to being paid by marketing firms to post either in a positive or negative way to help influence a certain topic or trend (i.e. sway public opinion regarding everything from politics to gaming to conspiracy to alternative medicine). One guy even said he was given a script to type out when dealing with redditors (members of reddit) who oppose or counter-argue with him.

      I have a love/hate relationship with reddit, but if the marketing shills continue to dominate and shut-out real conversation then I’ll move on away from Reddit.

      1. I have a love/hate relationship with reddit, but if the marketing shills
        continue to dominate and shut-out real conversation then I’ll move on
        away from Reddit.

        It’s like this in a LOT of communities. That’s how Digg imploded.

        I do have to tip my hat to the Reddit admin for at least dropping the banhammer in this case. But it’s still BS that things got that bad in the first place.

        I also hate how there are so few alternatives to the big aggregators. Voat still has a ways to go before it’s a legitimate alternative.

      2. I remember Digg. Used to go there a lot but it went hard left.

        There is a need for a very honest website dealing with games. Whoever fill the void will make a lot of money. Especially in regard to centre right politics.

      3. I visited and posted on Reddit for a short time during the start of Kotaku in Action, and already noticed those issues.

        In general, popular forums for discussion are inevitably going to be hijacked by corrupt assholes looking to sway public opinion to their benefit. Everyone should always be wary of such places.

  2. 1) This is why I don’t buy EA games anymore. Not really a boycott (I couldn’t be arsed), but with their focus more on PR than quality control, why would I want one?

    2) Why do people still use Reddit at this point? I think, at this point, we can all agree that they’re not big on actual discussion/debate.

      1. Thanks, I never heard of Voat until now. I have heard of the Escapist, but I never bothered to be a member. I’ll check them out. 🙂

    1. I don’t think I’ve seen any recent games from EA that I actually want or care about. I can’t think of any. Although I guess the same goes for a lot of the big names.

      1. Honestly, I have no trouble finding games I wanna play at the local GameStop or on GOG. I think it’s sad that people really only focus on EA and Ubisoft when they talk about how broken the gaming industry is. For the most part, people are still doing right by the consumer.

  3. just to ask, not a shill;

    didn’t they just enforce an NDA ? sure they were bribed to do it and it’s got that sort of ‘chilling effect overflow’ where many seemingly normal actions could be influenced by this, but at the end of the day, is there really a smoking gun here? not so much saying they shouldn’t be kicked out, but I want to know how I should feel about this

    1. That’s a good question.

      There’s a couple of things:

      1.) Not everyone who posted videos of alpha footage was breaking NDA since many users came across these videos while searching for Battlefront content. Keep in mind that there are a lot of fans out there looking for new content and they sometimes come across early alpha footage and want to share it with others.

      2.) People discussing leaked content who didn’t sign an NDA shouldn’t be punished or censored from discussing the content. If they didn’t share it why should they be obliged to the agreements of an NDA they didn’t sign? That’s the equivalent of the government censoring people from discussing the leaked cabals on Wikileaks because those aren’t supposed to be for public consumption.

      3.) We don’t know to what extent comments and critical content was affected by DICE/EA stepping into the picture to remove content they deemed in breach of the NDA. If it’s people being critical of alpha videos but they aren’t actually in the alpha, should their comments still be deleted/removed?

      4. ) As the Reddit administrator points out: EA is well within their rights to send copyright notices to the video content hosts. Censoring comments on a public discussion board to prevent people from being critical of the game during alpha is literally astroturfing.

      1. ahh;

        i don’t know, i’m thinking about it, but let’s say I said to everyone ‘this new beer is coming out I don’t want any spoilers’. and then I asked the bartender to stop any patron from spilling the news. I guess if they had been more clear about it, but if they had been, would that have still been unethical / bad?

        thanks for responding though, warms my heart to see community engagement

      2. No problem.

        I think enforcing NDAs is definitely important if you’re cautious about some kind of content getting out to the public, and EA ensuring that videos and screenshots are removed is well within their rights.

        However, I think that policing ends when people not legally bound to any contracts are being censored or affected by those regulations. In this particular case, EA surely could have done what Zenimax did with the leaked Fallout 4 videos and just send copyright strikes to the YouTubers/Daily Motion users/etc., breaking embargo/NDA.

      3. yeah, that’s fair

        overall i don’t think this was -that- big of a deal but they still did get bribed and probably had behavior altered. EA should’ve been aboveboard and asked the entire subreddit politely, maybe included a poll, if they would reject that material

      4. NDA are pretty stupid IMO. Blizzard did it correctly by not giving a fuck. Beta players didn’t have to sign anything when testing Blizzard games IIRC. They used beta players to promote their game.

        If you’re going to let some unknown kids testing your game, expect it to be on public domain regardless of NDA. If you don’t want your pre release game on public than spend the damn money to hire professional testers.

      5. I get the impression that professional testers don’t actually play games. I’ve played games that were buggy terrible awful crap, and they had HUGE tester lists. I also remember a game where the testers were just their families. So yeah, actual gamers are better testers.

        But I agree that I wouldn’t trust random assholes on the net to care about a NDA.

    1. I’ve gotten burned too many times with Bethesda’s re-issuing of games with the banner of “Game of the Year Edition”. After Fallout 3 & New Vegas got Game of the Year editions, I skipped on Skyrim until that got re-issued as Skyrim: Legendary Edition.

      I have a huge backlog, so I can definitely wait for Fallout 4 Game of the Year edition to arrive.

    2. Good luck on not running into any weird bugs.

      I’ve only played it a little, and ran into several annoying bugs such as the usual Bethesda silent crash to desktop, the game killing all my audio to require a reboot, and a strange bug where if I collided with environment in mid-crouch animation, it would instantly teleport me to a “safe” spot outside the border of the entire map section I was in. I also can’t seem to successfully shoot anything with third-person aiming crosshair, an issue that my modded Skyrim does not have.

      Thinking I should perhaps wait a few years for the game to mature, like Skyrim needed.

  4. “Some people cried “foul” and that EA would
    not stoop so low as to bribe or influence the kind of content users
    were made aware of on the Battlefront sub-Reddit.”

    Are you kidding me? They’re the first fucking ones in line to do shady business, lol. We’re talking a company that was originally so gifted, falling from grace so hard that the only time they consider delaying a game to ensure it’s quality is in extreme cases. The EA we knew died back in the PS2 days. For whatever reason, they decided back then to start focusing on money rather than games. I wonder how’s that working out for them? After some soulless non-gamer hack with a suit decided to step in and try to maximize EA’s profit potential.

    I feel so sorry for the MADDEN team most of all. You see their promotion of their MADDEN game through streams and shit and you can just see the fear in their eyes.

    1. Are you kidding me? They’re the first fucking ones in line to do shady business, lol.

      I kid you not, there are still people who think that people hate EA “just because it’s a cool thing to do”.

      One of the things I think is best to do is just drop a link to their corruption and go on about your business. Either these people don’t read any gaming news at all or are shills, but there’s no way that EA receiving “hate” is just some thing people do to be “cool”.

      1. There are people who dismiss any kind of reaction as “just because it’s a cool thing to do”. They’re that simple and ignorant.

        I personally don’t give a damn what the “cool thing to do” is, and generally do independent research to form my own opinions. I still get idiots telling me I’m just “trying to be cool”.

      2. Yeah it’s really bizarre. I used to try to correct these people but later started feeling it’s a waste of time.

        Oh well. I think, as you mentioned, the best way to go about it is just to do independent research and come to your own conclusion.

  5. LOL it’s going on right now with Elder Scrolls Online and the mods on their reddit forums. You can’t say anything bad about a bug or loading screens (which looks to be fixed) with out getting slammed then banned. Same with Zenimax official forums. All they want to allow is goody goody posts. Never really liked Reddit and how they mod the forums.

  6. I’ve noticed that some twitch users, such as itmejp, have mods that ban you if you speak negative about sat wars Battlefront. I made multiple accounts to see if this was true, and the same users would ban anything negative I said on any account.

    I won’t be buying the game, and I’ll be telling my friends to not do the same.

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