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EA Blocks the entire country of Myanmar from using Origin, citing U.S. sanctions

Gamers in Myanmar are out of luck, as they can no longer play games purchased on EA’s Origin digital distribution platform.

Reddit user Trivial_Sublime woke up to find that he was unable to access his game library on Origin, and instead encountered an ominous “Access Denied” message upon logging in. Turns out the latest Origin update put into affect U.S. sanctions, ultimately blocking Myanmar.

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According to longtime EA Forum user, DarkAmaranth1966, “with the Origin 10 update, the laws of the United States (which is where EA is based) forced [it] to block certain countries. Unfortunately if you live in one of those countries. I’m sorry but there is nothing we can do here to allow you access again.” But there appears to be a contradiction: U.S. sanctions against Myanmar were lifted on October 7.

On Myanmar’s U.S. Embassy website (which refers to Myanmar by its prior name, Burma), it states “As circumstances in Burma have changed since 2012, U.S. economic policy has accordingly been revised to ensure we are effectively supporting democratic reform efforts on the ground. Currently there are very few restrictions remaining; U.S. investment, imports of Burmese products into the United States (except for jadeite and rubies), and the use of the Burmese financial sector are allowed.”

It seems that Origin access was available while Myanmar was under sanctions, but became restricted just as sanctions were lifted. This looks like a delayed response by EA to say the least. As for Trivial_Sublime and all the other gamers in Myanmar, they seem to be out of luck at least for the time being. Sandy Goldberg of EA responded to Digital Trends with the following statement:

“We are working to restore access to Origin for our players in Myanmar. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused, and we’ll share updates on timing as soon as possible.”

This situation does call into question the terms of service gamers agree to, especially in the realm of digitally purchased games. While gamers in Myanmar paid for games on Origin, they technically don’t own those games. They are simply allowed permission to play them. For all intents and purposes, EA, or any major company, could rescind access to game use at anytime. In this case, while it was foreign policy that blocked access, it still points to potentially volatile digital market for gamers.