Previously removed, the FAQ and rules page for EA's Code Wars Hackathon competition have reappeared with a handful of changes. The previous FAQ and rules documents afforded Electronic Arts much more control over the creative content submitted to the contest. The updated rules remove some of that, and clarify the rules of the contest.

Previous frivolous questions like, "Why is EA doing this?" to which it answered, "Because we are the best company in the world," have been removed, as well as the question "Why so many rules?" and the answer, "Because that's just how we roll. (Our lawyers made us say that)."

The biggest changes, however, come with the addition of a new question in the FAQ, "Does EA get to keep my code or idea?" Here's the full response below, which you can also see on the FAQs and rules page:

No – what you create is all yours, you own it. We have no intention or desire to use your submission for our business and we are not even keeping copies of the submissions after the event. However, due to the nature of the business environment we operate in, we have to take measures to avoid potential future conflicts for any user generated content created at our events. To address this, we ask that participants grant us a nonexclusive license as a measure of protection.

We know that there was some confusion and frustration around this policy when we first announced the event and we understand. We would assure everyone interested in participating that we have no intention to proactively use these measures or make money from your ideas. The measures are simply there for our protection.

The purpose and goal of Code Wars is simple: to create a fun environment, foster new ideas, and meet new talent to potentially join the EA team.

Other changes include a question about whether EA will be hiring people from the event, to which it replies that it is always on the lookout for new talent. EA has also embedded more e-mail links throughout the document for those who have any additional questions.

Numerous changes have also been added to the rules section, expanding the limitations section, and the more controversial paragraph, "Consent to give Sponsor a royalty-free, irrevocable, non-exclusive license to use, reproduce, modify, publish, create derivative works," etc. from submissions has been heavily reworded, but reflects the same disclaimers as before.

Electronic Arts still retains rights to use your submission and its ideas in relation to its own products. EA has this disclaimer in the legalese in order to protect itself from future possible lawsuits. If an idea Electronic Arts is currently developing ends up being similar to a submitted project, by claiming rights to the idea upon submission, EA protects itself from the creator suing the developer and publisher for stealing their idea. This was reflected in the original draft of the rules, and the new draft basically says the same thing with more words, and more preemptive safety net jargon helpful for protecting EA, but not for the contestant's idea and its relation to the original creator.

[Source: EA Hackathon 2014]


Our Take
It seems clear that EA wants to this to be a fun contest encouraging people to get their creative juices flowing, but the original rules draft and the updated ones seem dubious. Electronic Arts says, "We have no intention or desire to use your submission for our business," but it doesn't change the fact that legally, it will have the ability to do so. As Mike Futter mentioned in his initial postings on this contest, other than the possibility of meeting people involved with Electronic Arts, there is very little incentive to submit a game to this contest if you have an idea you are interested in pursuing on your own, or hope to fully create some day.