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Electronic Arts Accidentally Gives Away Thousands of Video Games Thanks to Poor Coding Decision

It looks like Electronic Arts will have to chalk up this past weekend as unintentional free advertising for their Origin network. See, the video games giant handed out a coupon code worth $20 — only good on Origin — to those that took a survey about their digital distribution service. This is not an uncommon thing to do in the industry, and EA has a history of such coupons. Unfortunately, they may have got more than they bargained for this time. Users discovered that they could reuse the coupon, and it wasn’t unique to them, so the Internet acquired thousands of games on Origin for free.

The coupon apparently worked regardless of the number of items in the cart. So if a user filled their cart full of games being offered under the $20 price point, and they were part of the coupon’s deal, all of them would be free. It was like a one-stop gaming bonanza. Most of these were older games, but the argument could be made that a small percentage might have actually purchased them with money rather than the coupon code.

The cause of this fiasco is speculated as being poor implementation of server-side validation. By “poor implementation,” we actually mean “apparently no implementation.” It appears that the only system of checks existed on the client-side of the operation, meaning that the system could be fooled due to EA not actually checking to see if the coupon had already been used themselves.

At least now EA will finally have a bunch of people using Origin, though possibly not for the reasons they would have liked.

(minimaxir via Hacker News)

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