, for those just joining the eternal online fray, is software that detects cheaters—punks—and then deals with them appropriately via "busting." It's widely used, although its popularity has waned in recent years. It's also automated, which means things can occasionally go wrong. And it appears that things have gone very wrong recently for some Battlefield 3 players, who have been locked out of the game they love through no fault of their own.
Electronic Arts issued a
over the weekend saying that it is looking into reports that Punkbuster bans have been "incorrectly applied to some of our players." Unfortunately, and presumably also at least in part because of that automation thing, EA's "game advisors" can't just flip a switch and reverse the ban. If you were improperly slapped with one, in other words, you'll have to go through the standard appeals process,
, in order to have it overturned.
"We're working with our partners at Even Balance to get this resolved as quickly as possible," EA wrote. "Please stay tuned for updates on this issue, and we're very sorry for the inconvenience this has caused."