EA discouraging used Sims 3 game sales with registration

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The Sims 3Thinking about purchasing The Sims 3? Good for you. Thinking about purchasing it used? Think again.

Thanks to certain procedures set in place by EA regarding the game, you must register your copy in order to gain access to The Sims 3 community website and store. If you’ve purchased a used game and someone already registered it, prepare to jump through hoops in hope of attaining access.

I’ve experienced firsthand the ordeal bargain hunters who shop used will have to go through, and chronicled my experience in an attempt to assist other users. With the used game business being so prevalent, I’m sure I’m not the only person who’ll encounter a twisting and turning adventure with a used copy of The Sims 3.

My adventures began shortly after I purchased The Sims 3 at a Goodwill Store in Illinois for $9.99. The box claimed if one registered, the user could receive $10 worth of Sim Points and an additional neighborhood. Since all the appropriate documentation was in the case and the security stickers were still affixed to the top and bottom, I decided I would register and see if I’d be granted access to these bonuses as well.

When I attempted to register at The Sims 3 website, I received an unfortunate error message stating I was unable to register and would not be granted access to certain areas of the site. However, the site didn’t provide an explanation why. I remembered hearing other users who’d purchased the game new had run into similar experiences. I decided to consult with tech support. While it would be nice to get the additional town and free Sim Points, my primary concern was that I would be unable to accessThe Sims 3 exchange, forum or store, and perhaps even be unable to patch the game.

I first touch based with The Sims 3 customer support on June 14, 2009 at 5:43pm. I provided my serial number and stated that the site would not allow me to register due to the serial number being invalid. The site informed me that I would receive a response within 24 hours.

At 7:27am on June 16, 2009 I received my first response. It read as follows:


Thank you for contacting Electronic Arts.

Sorry for the delayed response. Because of our new launch ‘The Sims 3′ we are getting a little higher than normal volume

I have reviewed our Knowledge Base and located an article that may assist with resolving your issue. Our Knowledge Base is consistently updated to ensure that you can reference it for even the most recent issues.

Please go through the below mentioned link:

If you have anyquestions about this material or have any additionalquestions about your issue, please let us know.


EA Rep _______
Electronic Arts

The response sounded automated, as though copied and pasted. It offered instructions on redeeming Free Sim Points. Not what I was requesting help with. I immediately responded at 9:20am with the following.

Hi ______,

The link that you sent me is not applicable to my situation at all. I have gone to My Account and attempted to register my game with the serial number XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX. Every time I enter the serial number, the site states that it is not a valid serial number. So, I am unable to register my game. However, I had no problem installing my game with that serial number.

I received a rather prompt response at 9:58am. The EA Rep asked for my full name, account e-mail address, alternate/active e-mail address, date of birth and zip code. I responded back at 10:17am with the requested information, and also informed the EA Rep I had purchased the game at Goodwill and gave the serial number again.

The EA Rep’s next response came June 17 at 4:26am.


Thank you for getting back to Electronic Arts

I would like to inform you that you have provided wrong information .

The registration code that you have provided is : XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX. which has been used for registration for some other email address .The Email address that you have provided is: has not been registered for the given code that you have provided .

Please provide us the correct information regarding your account so that we can assist you further !


Ea Rep ______

At this point, my suspicions that the previous user had already registered the game were confirmed. Perhaps the other user had purchased the game, was displeased with the bugs, errors and new direction, and donated it. Perhaps the other user had opted to download the free digital copy of the game with the EA Download Manager and decided the actual hard copy was no longer needed.

I then decided to offer a final plea on June 17 at 8:26am.

Is there any way I can still register my used copy of the game so I can have access to patches? The “no ultraspeed” and story mode that won’t turn off are incredibly annoying and I want to be able to patch my copy the second patches are available.

Does EA offer any support or registration options to players who purchased used copies of The Sims 3?

The EA Rep then requested a scanned copy of the manual. I took a photo with my laptop’s webcamera and sent it along.

The Sims 3

Meanwhile, I was getting a bit frustrated by the rate at which the issue was being addressed through the online support center. I decided to try my luck with the EA Technical Support hotline. I called right when the line opened at 8am PST on June 17, 2009 to see if I could find any kind of assistance there.

When I first explained my plight, the EA tech support representative offered me this option. Buy another, new copy of the game. “The Sims 3 is available in most major retailers or as a direct download!” he chirped. I then explained that my budget doesn’t really allow for a $49.99 game purchase, especially when I have a copy that I can play, but can’t register.

To his credit, the EA tech support representative I spoke with on the phone was very cheerful and attempted to accommodate me. He asked for the registration code and told me he would try to get the log-in information that accompanied it so I could access the various features. Unfortunately, he was unable to do so.

He then offered another solution. Contact the EA Warranty department and tell them I had lost the manual. He stated that for a $10-13 money order, I could receive a digital manual with a new registration code which I could then use to register my game.

Later that night, at 6:02pm, I received a final email response at the EA help center:

Greetings Jenni,

Thank you for writing back to us.

We searched with code and found that it is already registered to a different EA account (some “” account). If you already posses such EA account then we suggest you to login to game with that EA account to play the game. However, If you do not have any such EA account then we request you to contact the retailer to get a replacement copy of the game.

Should you have any further questions, please take a moment to review our Knowledge Base site at or let us know.


EARep ______
EA Games support.

I came to one conclusion, after my experiences with EA’s technical support. EA does not want people purchasing used copies of The Sims 3.

I decided to try to make contact with one of EA’s press representatives, to try and get an official statement and advice from EA concerning options for users who purchased used copies of The Sims 3. Unfortunately, a press representative from EA could not be reached to comment on EA’s stance concerning used copies of The Sims 3.

In closing, a used copy of The Sims 3 may not be the good deal it appears to be. If you eventually want access to the website and store, you’ll either have to pay at least an additional $10 for a replacement manual with a new registration code or an additional $49.99 for fresh copy of the game. Thankfully, the free downloads in the Sims 3 Store, like the Toyota Prius car, and the game updates don’t require any registration to download and install into your game.

Site [The Sims 3]

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  • Laura Graydon

    I had to come back and comment on this– I tried this with EA and it totally worked!! THANK YOU!! Before I bought my used copy of Sims 3 I had no idea that I wouldnt be able to register it, now for only $10 more I can get a new code. So awesome!

  • Sarah w.

    omg i really hate the sims right now! i have bought enough sh!t from them that it should be like this “oh you cant log in? oh well i can fix that” and its done with! i’ve spent at the least $200 on expansion and games that they shouldnt be so uppity about it!

  • kate black

    I have borrowed a copy of this game off of my cousin, and he barely used it.
    i went to the sims 3 exchange online, and i was told my serial code was invalid.
    i dont know how to get another one. can anyone help?

  • liz.

    I reckon if it was on ebay u could email the person asking if they could just change their email to yours and give you the password, u know pretty much erase all of their details and then u could pretty much have their account but tweaked to your liking! Just hope the person u bought it from is nice!

    • Jenni Lada

      I bought it from Goodwill, so I couldn’t really ask.

  • Ashley

    I bought a used sims 3 expansion pack it didn’t say it was used and I didn’t preorder it but it is still limited edition so I cant get any limited edition stuff HELP!!!

  • chelsea

    I just bought Sims 3 Hidden Springs off of Ebay and it won’t let me play it at all. The install wizard opens up but the boxes you enter the codes in does not come up. The install wizard then goes on to say it’s finished installing however the game never installs. A few seconds later the game launcher pops up asking for the code, when entered I got an error message stating “We’re sorry, this code has already been used.” I was able to install and play my other Sims 3 games and expansions. Guess I’ll have to go buy the manual so I can play it.

  • Amber Lou

    I’ve had such a similar issue except for, I bought my Sims 3 games and packs all brand new…I’ve contacted EA for over 3 YEARS over me not being able to access my Sims 3 account to get the full gameplay out of it. They tell me they can’t help or send me to another section of their “expert team” that never sends me any responding e-mails. They finally respond after going on about it for over 3 years to tell me they can delete my account that never worked correctly to begin with but I’ll never be able to play my registered games again, nor will I get anything I’ve already bought from them or any of my free items….I will never again buy anything Sims 3 related…I’m actually going to sell mine with explanation on how ridiculous EA is with it, and go back to playing Sims 2. I don’t see how it is legal for them to do this kind of thing but whatever. I can’t even change my profile picture/avatar on my Sims 3 account…I can only register through Origin and same for redeeming all game codes for limited/special edition games….And though I’ve purchased all of my games brand new I’m told I can only buy new registration codes on top of the $50.00 I’ve spent on each one. The lesson I’ve learned is that it doesn’t matter whether you buy used or new…they’re still going to find a way to make you spend more money.

  • Patty Smith

    Ea games is nothing but a rip off.. I have all The sims games from Sims one , sims 2 and now had all of sims 3.. plus a bunch of stuff from the sims 3 store.. well My husband changed my hard drive from windows 8 back to windows 7..

    so.. went to install all my games from the origin and the Sims 3 store.. I had some disks already bought. but did buy alot off origin.. for I do not go to the store much.. anyhow
    I went login to origin. and said username or email not valid.. I was stunned. I have had the same login with them for a long long time.. same with my sims 3 page.. cant login.. so long story short.. I lost everything I had bought from The sims 3 store and origin.. which was alot of money… sigh..

  • marialisha

    I bought a BRAND NEW… *****NOT PREOWNED***** Sim3 and tryed to install to run into THE SAME FREAKING PROBLEM!!! I was pissed to say the least, BUT NOW IM READING THIS IM ENRAGED!!!!
    Now Im thinkin Im a part of a scam…!!!
    I should NOT have to pay EXTRA money after Ive already payed FULL PRICE !!!!!!!!!!

    • Amber Lou

      Yeah. My games have ALL been bought brand new and EA just don’t even care. I guess they’ve made so much money off of us that they don’t care to lose actual loyal customers.

  • pete williams

    the answer is, don’t waste your time or money on EA game series, the Sims 3
    I have never paid out so much cash for such a flawed, bug ridden game in my life.
    perhaps electronic arts over stretched their selves in producing this game – each patch issued seemed to add more faults than they cured. one well-documented fault in the ‘France part of the world adventure disc was never rectified, although EA were well aware of it.
    the overall game is still full of bugs and routing errors but I feel that the developers have now washed their hands of it, to concentrate on the oviously more lucrative Sims 4
    will I be buying this next instalment of the Sims saga? no – I think I have wasted too much money on EA’s flawed offerings already.

  • Louise

    It’s actually illegal to limit the resale of a product. It basically makes it useless.

  • Louise

    I’ve just thought about selling my sims 3 collection. This is actually illegal for a company to do in the UK. To limit resale ability is illegal.

  • Kristian Savoy

    I went into their chatroom help thing and have had them replace my codes twice, jst depends on who you get for a rep. Some are uselsss and others are awesome

  • Sebastian Fudali

    Oh, EA…
    Multiple expansion packs for the price of original game, DLC that some cost as much as original game on physical medium.
    Not to mention all DLC costs more than the game and EPs on DVDs combined…