Fenech replies to its ban on competition in November in a long YouTube message.
Electronic Arts has excluded controversial 25-year-old Maltese FIFA esports player Kurt "Kurt0411" Fenech from all EA games and services. The move is an unprecedented escalation of punishment for a player EA has been struggling with publicly for more than a year.
According to EA, Fenech "has continued to post abusive and threatening news and videos about EA employees and competitive players on social media, and has encouraged others to do so. His messages have crossed a line of decency in very personal attacks and violated our Terms of Service. We tolerate no threatening behavior. "
An important message for FIFA player Kurt0411. pic.twitter.com/RcHu1hMCup
– Electronic Arts (@EA), February 24, 2020
Fenech, who has been excluded from EA's professional FIFA esport competitions since November, has continued to host popular FIFA streams on Twitch in person over the past few months (despite previous threats to end the game). He wrote on Twitter on Monday, "I never said anything I shouldn't have done. It is just deeper than anyone thinks. They didn't want me to attend events (because) they were afraid I would win them, now I am." I am the second largest streamer in their game and they are afraid that I will overtake their golden boy. But when everything is said and done, we'll beat her, trust me. You have money, but we have numbers. Fuck (her) and everyone at her side. "
"It was not enough to ban myself from their esport events. Trying to block my Twitch and YouTube channels was not enough. You have now closed my founder account for more than 10 years (FIFA Ultimate Team) "Fenech tweeted. "No words."
How did we get here?
<img alt = "In a news published in November, Fenech was excluded from his specialist FIFA Tournaments. "src =" https://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/fenechban-640×623.png "width =" 640 "height =" 623 "srcset =" https: // cdn .arstechnica .net / wp-content / uploads / 2020/02 / fenechban-1280×1246.png 2x "/> Enlarge /. In a November message, EA Fenech excluded from his professional FIFA tournaments.
Fenech was excluded from the EA-sponsored FIFA Global Series competition in November after EA called "Code of Conduct Violations … Threatening Employees and Other Players". At that point, EA found that Fenech had been excluded from the competition several times since the end of 2018, but continued to "publish or upload materials that we found to be abusive, annoying, and vulgar," which resulted in permanent Disqualification from professional competition.
"(Fenech) had many opportunities and we knew that any subsequent violation would result in escalating penalties," EA wrote in a November statement. "The above violations go beyond an acceptable" smack talk "because the consistent harassment of competitors, EA employees and a previous on-air talent during the live broadcast is unacceptable."
This mention of on-air talent probably refers to a time when Fenech interrupted a livestream interview with top-class FIFA streamer Edwin "Castro1021" Castro. "All of this would have been avoided if you had given me the microphone so I could speak to the people who were watching and waiting for me," Fenech said of the incident.
Fenech has a reputation for emotionally scolding EA, including a notorious clip in which he spat on a scarf with the EA logo in response to a bad hit.
This is the VOD that Kurt has been banned from. I'm all for free speech, but that's disgusting behavior. How do you want to spit on the logo of a company for which you want to be a professional esports athlete? I know I'll get a stick for it, but he deserves the ban. pic.twitter.com/oJmlifBFLU
– DrJarba (@JarbaFifa), November 1, 2019
In response to the ban on competition, Fenech defended his behavior, including alleged "obscene gestures towards your opponent and targeted harassment of EA employees" ("Why didn't Twitch ban me" for this behavior, he asked rhetorically). This includes a stream in which he asked an opponent to "suck on my balls, you son of a bitch … I only regret that I didn't name him anymore."
After the competition ban, Fenech also continued a long history in which EA and the FIFA games were publicly criticized for perceived game deficiencies and allegedly closed eyes to fraudulent methods. This includes general statements against EA employees, whom he said in November: "The truth is that none of you (FIFA developers) should still be on the job and you should be ashamed of the product that you bring out."
"Can you give me examples of when I threatened your incompetent staff?" Fenech asked on Twitter on Monday in response to his publication-wide ban.
"The truth is that they don't want me to compete (because) they're afraid I'm going to say something about their broken game live at their event," continued Fenech in November. Fenech would not be alone with this kind of criticism: In an interview after the game, Pro-FIFA player Tekz said that "nobody likes playing FIFA 20" because this year's game is so unrewarded that everyone can win, people who it’s not FIFA 20 is not a good win. ”
In November Fenech called EA "tyranny (they) don't like someone saying something they don't like and holy shit, I've said a lot what they don't like."
<img alt = "A fake statement sent to a hacker FIFA Community manager account after Fenech's ban on competition in November. "src =" https://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/fenechbanfake-640×374.jpg "width =" 640 "height =" 374 "srcset =" https: //cdn.arstechnica .net / wp-content / uploads / 2020/02 / fenechbanfake.jpg 2x "/> Enlarge /. A fake statement released on a hacked FIFA Community Manager account after Fenech's ban on competition in November.
In the days following Fenech's ban on competition, some EA employees saw their social media accounts hacked and used to post or support Fenech news. "Employee security is a top priority for us, so multiple employees have blocked or disabled their channels," EA said at the time in a statement.
Earlier this month, Fenech's YouTube channel was hit by a number of copyright infringements in its YouTube and Twitch videos with the FIFA Ultimate Team. "Warning to everyone who wants to call EA about their bullshit … they will now copy your content and try to delete your channels," Fenech said on Twitter. "This is tyranny that doesn't stop at anything. I give up."
"One thing is certain: there is a revolution on the way," Fenech said in a November video. "You have to choose a side. And choose a side wisely. You can't be after me and can't do anything about your game. Enough is enough. Karma. It's fucking time that you start taking care of us. We deserve justice. We deserve. " a damn soccer game. "
The nuclear option
The punishment of Fenech by EA, however, is the first known case where it is known that the behavior of a professional player in a game has resulted in a ban on the general playing of all titles and services in the entire library of a publisher. The next analogue is Valve's anti-cheat system, a zero appeal zero tolerance policy that limits access to a Steam account and related purchases when fraud is detected.
In a way, Fenech's ban on all EA games is not fully enforceable. If he decides to buy a copy of Dead Space and play it on an offline console, there is nothing EA can do to stop him. However, the ban can be applied to a variety of games that require an EA account for online functionality or even to purchase authentication. Even if Fenech were able to circumvent a technical ban with a new account and / or other hardware, EA could easily use its copyright control to prevent Fenech from streaming EA games to popular video services.
After months of escalating punishment, EA appears to have pulled out the largest piece of ammunition in its community management arsenal to prevent Fenech from violating community standards. However, given Fenech's story with outspoken comments and extreme reactions, we cannot be sure that this will be the end of the story.
Listing image from EA