Battlefield 3 World Conquest - The $1.6 Million Tournament That Never Happened
Written by Trevor Somerville
BF3 shattered all the sales and revenue records for Electronic Arts, reaching 3 million pre-orders by the day of its release. Five million units were sold within the first week of its availability, making it the hottest and fastest selling game for EA. Virgin Gaming, the competition specialists who let you compete in the best console games for cash and other prizes, announced a Battlefield 3 Worldwide Conquest tournament featuring $1.6 million in cash and prizes in conjunction with Electronic Arts to celebrate the launch of its highly anticipated first-person shooter. The tournament was announced on their website late in 2011, as shown below:
From the screenshot, you can see that the tourney was announced for "early 2012," which can be verified from the official press release. The video that started showing up as "Unavailable" a few weeks after the launch of the website was then uploaded to YouTube:
YouTube Video From The Announcement Website
The video has Sir Richard Branson announcing the 1.6 million dollar tournament. He is, in a way, acting as a salesmen promoting the game Battlefield 3 before its release. A few months after the video was removed, the entire site www.battlefieldmillions.com has been taken down. A re-direct has been set up for the same information on the Virgin Gaming website. This re-direct goes to a Virgin Gaming login page. On signing-up to Virgin Gaming and looking for the Battlefield 3 tournaments, I found what is shown in the following screenshot:
On finding the new Battlefield 3 tournament section, I could still see the details about the World Conquest tournament for 2012, but there was no new information. The only change is that the old site was now a re-direct to a login page, andÂ you could still find the same informationÂ when you log in.
In November 2012, I emailed Virgin Gaming's customer support asking if the tournament was still happening in 2012 and when they would provide an update. They replied with a standard template with no new information that anyone (I tried again with a different email) would get. So even in December 2012, when I emailed Virgin Gaming a third time, they still said it was scheduled and going to happen in 2012. For those interested, shown below is my request for information and the reply from Virgin Gaming's customer support as of December 29, 2012:
Today is January 1st 2013. This means that the tournament announced in the video by Sir Richard Branson and promoted by EA, DICE, and Virgin Gaming did not happen.
Battlefield 3 World Conquest Is A Blatant Lie
Virgin Gaming, Electronic Arts, and DICE announced the BF3 Worldwide Conquest Tournament as an event to celebrate the launch of the game, but regardless of whether it was called a celebration or not, it helped them boost their sales and further their profits. Had they not come up with the announcement of a large tournament, would BF3 still have shattered those sales records and earned them their huge revenues? Are they not responsible for hosting this tournament out of obligation to their consumers? They did not host the tournament and yet made money from it. Who is going to hold them accountable for such practices, given that it all happened at the expense of our hard earned money?
Now that we are in 2013, the promised tournament has not happened yet. What can we do? Well I am not a lawyer. I am not qualified to sue Virgin Gaming nor do I have the legal expertise to know what should be done. Due to my lack of legal experience, I consulted a lawyer - Stephen Durbin, who has 28 years of experience in his field of work. As a consumer, I have been lied to and want to take action so I booked the $250 half-hour consultation with Stephen to discuss his legal opinion on the subject. I won't list everything my lawyer and I talked about but I will give you a list of the highlights:
We had this conversation before 2013 so it is important for the readers to understand we were talking hypothetically under the assumption that the tournament would not happen in 2012.
- The announcement of the tournament for 2012 was clear. Not having the tournament in 2012 means they blatantly lied.
- The tournament was used to promote the sales of the game. This makes Virgin Gaming and all associated parties liable for false advertising.
- If I, you or a company such as Blizzard, Valve or Riot want to sue Virgin Gaming or any associated parties, the case would be for false advertising.Â
- Anyone can sue Virgin Gaming or any associated party for two years after the incident. So basically, anyone can sue Virgin Gaming from January 2013 to December 2015 for false advertisement of Battlefield 3 World Conquest.
- To hire a lawyer like Stephen to fight this case, one would require a $20,000 retainer. This retainer does not cover any court fees.
- To fight this case in court in Stephen's legal opinion would cost $300,000 or more in addition to the retainer.
Since I am without hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight this in court as I am sure many of you are, I asked for his opinion on if there was a different action I could take. Here is a brief summary of what I learned:
- There is no reason for me to hire a lawyer and sue Virgin Gaming and all associated parties.
- I can file a complaint with the Canadian Consumer Protection Agency, Better Business Bureau and Federal Trade Commission and all other agencies who protect consumer rights.
So that is what I did! Before I published this story, I submitted a complaint with the Ontario Ministry of Consumer Services (File #916917), Better Business Bureau (Case #1268922) and Federal Trade Commission (Reference #42589371). While going through the consumer rights on the Ontario Ministry of Consumer Services website, there is an interesting right I as an Ontario citizen have and would like to share it with you:
Sales incentives may not be false, misleading or deceptive
A salesperson can offer you an incentive to help find other buyers, but the description of the incentive cannot be false, misleading or deceptive.
As per the aforementioned, who is the salespersonÂ in this situation? Well, it's simply the same person who appears in the video promoting the tournament - Sir Richard Branson. In my report, I included Sir Richard Branson, who was in the video on the original announcement who I believe was acting as a salesperson and used the tournament Battlefield 3 World Conquest as a false sales incentive. Now, just because I think this, doesn't mean I am right. I am still waiting on what the Ontario Ministry of Consumer Services has to say.
For those who are curious to know, what can happen if Sir Richard Branson is found to have offered a false sales incentive?
Anyone who violates the Consumer Protection Act, 2002 may be subject to prosecution
Individuals violating certain sections of the act are liable to a fine of up to $50,000 or imprisonment of up to two years less one day or both. A corporation can be fined up to $250,000.
Wow, that's pretty severe. While it's unlikely that Sir Richard Branson or Virgin Gaming will be charged with a $50,000 or $250,000 fine and jail time, it is possible as clearly stated in the Consumer Protection Act.
I've been following this tournament since the day of its announcement and will continue to provide updates on www.ProGamingTours.net when I receive a reply from the aforementioned agencies. I am dedicated to this cause for I believe that the gamers who bought Battlefield 3 deserve better than to be lied to. I believe eSports fans and the organizations who host these tournaments and pay prize money deserve a level playing field. I followed Virgin Gaming, EA, and DICE throughout 2012, hoping they would host it, but they did not. Now, I am doing everything I can do (within reason as I don't have $500,000 lying around to win a legal battle) to make sure that gamers and eSport organizations see justice.
Want To Help?
I am no one special. I don't have millions of dollars and I don't have a law degree. I am just a gamer who bought Battlefield 3 and an eSport enthusiast who has hosted and sponsored tournaments (that actually happened). If you are like me and want to take action, you can file a complaint with your local consumer protection agency. For those who live in countries that allow it, you can contact your local government official and request they take legislative actions against Virgin Gaming, EA, and DICE.
If you aren't like me and are the CEO of Blizzard, Riot, Valve, or just some eccentric billionaire who happens to have their own legal team available to them, you may consider filing a lawsuit. It will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars (possibly millions) and it will take months or years before it is settled, but if you are as passionate about this as I am, then you may choose to do this out of charity as opposed to good business.
Now, I don't expect anyone to file complaints or lawsuits just because I said so, but please keep me updatedÂ if you do. I want to provide updates on the actions being taken against Virgin Gaming and all associated organizations. You can contact me by email at Trevor@ProGamingTours.net
Also, feel free to ask me any questions about this matter and I will answer to the best of my abilities. Again, I am not a lawyer and I am in no way more qualified than you or your organization. I have however consulted a lawyer and taken the time to file complaints against Virgin Gaming and may be able to offer you or your organization some advice.
For everyone reading this, please know that I followed the lack of updates throughout 2012 and that the page I updated became the #1/2 ranking page on Google when searching "Battlefield 3 World Conquest". Of all the websites that announced the Battlefield $1.6 million World Conquest tournament, only the page I maintained provided updates. There were some forum topics about the tournament, but not one news site showed up on Google other than www.ProGamingTours.net with the news that the video was no longer available, the original website was taken down and a re-direct setup requiring you to sign up before you could see the information about the tournament.
This is why I feel obligated to use the website I have access to and take the risk of a lawsuit from Virgin Gaming and all associated organizations because only this website has been publishing the updates. I have been following and filing complaints and now I hope you join me in this fight. A fight not just against Virgin Gaming but against all corporations that blatantly lie expecting to get away with it.
Share Your Opinion With Virgin Gaming
You can contact Virgin Gaming through email at Support@VirginGaming.com.
My Email To Virgin Gaming Support
It is now 2013. You announced a 1.6 million dollar Battlefield 3 World Conquest tournament for 2012.
Throughout 2012 and when I emailed you on December 29th, 2012 you have provided no new information.
You didn't host the tournament. You are liable for false advertising. I have submitted complaints with the following agencies:
Ontario Ministry of Consumer Services File #916917
Better Business Bureau Case #1268922
Federal Trade Commission Reference #42589371
I have also shared this information in a news article which can be found at
How will Virgin Gaming make amends for this falsely advertised sales incentive?
Do you have any comment you would like to share?
I sent this email January 1, 2013, minutes after publishing this article. I am still waiting a reply. Anyone can file a claim for two years (until January 2015) I will keep posting updates on the replies I get from Virgin Gaming and the agencies I filed complaints with.
Update Janauary 1st, 2013 13:00 EST - I recieved a reply from Virgin Gaming Support. Below is a screenshot:
Now we just have to wait for a "real life member" of Virgin Gaming Support to reply. Also I created a Twitter account for myself and will tweet updates for those interested you can follow https://twitter.com/Trevor.Â
Update January 1, 2013 13:30 EST - noneedtobemad shared a link on Reddit to the original announcement promoting the World Conquest tournament in 2011 by EA. You can read it at http://investor.ea.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=609056. Thank you noneedtobemadÂ for sharing this. If you want to discuss this topic on Reddit click, here.
Update January 1, 2013 14:30 EST - I just finished emailing the people listed below:
EA Games Label
Peter Nguyen, 650-628-3607 - PR Director -email@example.com
Tammy Levine, 650-628-7223 - VP of PR - firstname.lastname@example.org
HighWater Group for Virgin Gaming North America
Matt Schlosberg, 212-338-0077 ext. 102 - email@example.com
Lunch PR for Virgin Gaming UKÂ
Danielle Woodyat, 020-7860-0790 - firstname.lastname@example.org
I sent them similiar emails to the one I sent to Virgin Gaming customer support. I will post an update once I receive a reply. Also there are a lot of interesting things happening at the Battlefield 3 forums: http://battlelog.battlefield.com. I won't speculate, if your interested go over and check it out.
Update January 3, 2013 18:00 EST- Received emails from the BBB and Canadian Consumer Protection Agency today. The BBB has forwarded my complaint to Virgin Gaming. They have 6 weeks to reply. The Canadian Consumer Protection Agency is not the correct branch for a false advertising complaint. The below is a qoute from the email:
If you consider it as a misleading advertising you may wish to contact the Competition Bureau of Industry Canada, an agency of the Federal Government. The Competition Bureau administers the Competition Act, which contains provisions prohibiting false or misleading representations and deceptive marketing practices in promoting the supply or use of a product or any business interest. You may wish to contact them directly at:
Competition Bureau of Canada
50 Victoria Street
Gatineau QC K1A 0C9
For information about the laws administered by our ministry, please visit our website at:
Thank you again for contacting us and for bringing your concerns to our attention.
Consumer Services Bureau
I will follow the advice given by the Consumer Services Bereau and contact the Competition Bureau of Canada and pursue the complaint of false advertising. I am very pleased with how fast the BBB and Ontario Consumer Services have responded to my emails. If you visit Virgin Gaming and look at Battlefield 3 tournaments the World Conquest tournament is still shown for 2012. Virgin Gaming have still not taken down the advertisement for the tournament.
Update January 4, 2013 20:00 EST - Sent an email to the Virgin Gaming community manager email@example.com. In my email I asked for his comment on the Battlefield 3 World Conquest. I also asked that he please take down the false advertisement of the Battlefield 3 World Conquest tournament that is still announced for 2012 on Virgin Gaming website.
Carl Clendenin is currently promoting Virgin Gaming to the Halo community. More details can be found at: http://www.halocouncil.com. There is also a discussion on the Halo Council website about the World Conquest tournament and how it may affect the Halo community you can join the discussion at:Â http://www.halocouncil.com/community.
Update January 10, 2013 14:30 EST- Recieved a reply from the Competition Bureau of Canada. It is a very long email so I am just going to copy the relevant section:
The role of the Bureau, as an independent law enforcement agency, is to ensure that Canadian businesses and consumers prosper in a competitive and innovative marketplace. Information brought to our attention by consumers and businesses is very important to our work as it contributes to the identification of marketplace issues. The Bureau takes all allegations of false or misleading representations and deceptive marketing practices seriously.
Due to the large number of complaints we receive, we have established criteria for the selection of cases to ensure that our decision to pursue or not pursue a particular case is exercised in an objective and consistent manner. We consider, for example, factors such as the scope of the conduct, the number of consumers and/or businesses adversely affected, the financial loss caused by the practice, the number of complaints received and the available evidence.
The information you have provided will be recorded and entered into our database and it may be used to develop or support future enforcement activities under the laws we enforce. As a law enforcement agency, the Bureau is required to conduct its investigations in private. As such, we cannot provide complaint status reports or comment further on this matter in order to protect the integrity of the investigative process.
Even the short version is long so I bolded the highlights. Hopefully this leads to direct legal action against Virgin Gaming and possibly EA. If it wasn't clear enough before it is much clearer now because it is January 10, 2013 and the Virgin Gaming website still has the exact same page up announcing the $1.6 Battlefield 3 tournament to take place in 2012. They still haven't removed the advertisement 10 days into 2013.
Still no replies from anyone at Virgin Gaming or EA. No official announcements have been made regarding the $1.6 million World Conquest Tournament.
Update January 26, 2013 17:30 EST - Virgin Gaming in reply to the Better Business Bureau complaint made a response:
"There was no time table set for the start of the tournament. The plan to run the tournament is still in discussion with our partners and we plan to offer it. There was no guarantee attached to the tournament and additionally there were no official details ever released regarding the tournament. All tournaments run of the promotional variety include a free to enter option, thus purchase of the game would not have been required in the event the tournament had already happened. Thus, we believe there is no basis for this claim."
"no official details" - Official? Like an entire website promoting the tournament for 2012:
Or official like Virgin Gaming with the announcement on their site for BF3 World Conquest coming 2012:
The above announcement as of Janaury 26, 2013 is still on the Virgin Gaming website. This is what I replied back. I said I am not satisfied with their answer. Virgin Gaming needs to do two things: Remove the false advertisement for 2012 and release an "official" statement that the tournament has been delayed or if it will be cancelled.