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GameSpy's New Owners Begin Disabling Multiplayer Without Warning 247

Posted by Soulskill
from the how-kind-of-them dept.
New submitter OldTimeRadio writes "Over the last month, both game publishers and gaming communities alike were surprised to find their GameSpy multiplayer support suddenly disabled by GLU Mobile, who purchased GameSpy from IGN this August. Many games, including Neverwinter Nights 1 & 2, Microsoft Flight Simulator X, Swat 4, Sniper Elite, Hidden and Dangerous 2, Wings of War, Star Wars: Battlefront are no longer able to find (and in some cases even host) multiplayer games. While games like Neverwinter Nights are still able to directly connect to servers if players know the IP address, less-fortunate gamers expressed outrage on GLU Mobile's 'Powered by GameSpy' Facebook page. In an open letter to their Sniper Elite gaming community today, UK game developer Rebellion explained it was helpless to change the situation: 'A few weeks ago, the online multiplayer servers for Sniper Elite were suddenly switched off by Glu, the third-party service we had been paying to maintain them. This decision by Glu was not taken in consultation with us and was beyond our control. We have been talking to them since to try and get the servers turned back on. We have been informed that in order to do so would cost us tens of thousands of pounds a year — far in excess of how much we were paying previously. We also do not have the option to take the multiplayer to a different provider. Because the game relies on Glu and Gamespy's middleware, the entire multiplayer aspect of the game would have to be redeveloped by us, again, at the cost of many tens of thousands of pounds.""
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GameSpy's New Owners Begin Disabling Multiplayer Without Warning

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  • by BirdParrot (2790575) on Friday December 07, 2012 @07:40PM (#42221219)
    I always thought GameSpy was bigger brand than this. So much you learn from gaming.
  • by msauve (701917) on Friday December 07, 2012 @07:45PM (#42221267)
    Rebellion (and others) hitched their wagon to some proprietary technology without having long term contracts in place. Shame on them.
  • by Sir_Sri (199544) on Friday December 07, 2012 @07:46PM (#42221281)

    If walmart suddenly closed its 20 smallest stores would it suddenly not be a major company?

    The problem with gamespy is that most PC games have shifted to steam or their own publishers dedicated multiplayer (e.g. through origin or Uplay). At this point gamespy multiplayer is mostly legacy stuff, and there aren't a lot of options for them in the marketplace.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2012 @07:48PM (#42221295)

    "Because the game relies on Glu and Gamespy's middleware"

    See, this is your problem right here. Not the middleware part per.se, but the idea that the middleware is ALSO locked to a service outside of your control should have disqualified it immediately. You wouldn't use a video codec for which you don't have have a Free source code decoder, right?!

    Oh... well, I guess we've learned TWO things here today.

  • Re:Twitterization? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Friday December 07, 2012 @07:50PM (#42221325) Journal

    Perhaps the developers should not have used a single source proprietary solution that basically placed their wellbeing in the hands of a third party. This is what is known is willing dropping your drawers and hoping there won't be an assraping.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2012 @08:06PM (#42221463)

    Never develop your programs based on a service that can die at any point. Even if it is millions of years.
    Be it the "Cloud" or middleware like this, never do it. Ever.

    The ability to be able to just take your multiplayer away from a game-host and to another, or even replace it with a decentralized version, is much better than a part of the game that then becomes impossible to play without serious changes to the back-end or an emulated server that would technically probably break the law since you would be replicating Gamespy servers. (I'm not sure, would that be?)

    Also, ALWAYS develop a game with local play in mind. That should be the first thing to develop, care about game hosting later.
    Not only does it make it considerably easier to develop it, it also lets you easily rip out old code and place in new code to deal with internet-hosted games.

    Oh well.

  • by BradleyUffner (103496) on Friday December 07, 2012 @08:07PM (#42221483) Homepage

    It seems like a huge major shuffling of media sources has gone around behind the scenes, even apple itunes 11, youtube, and windows 8 have all been raped and dumbed down.

    Maybe now that Console games are starting to get dumbed down and crippled to run on phones the console players will finally understand the frustration PC Gamers have been going through for the last 10 years or so.

  • Re:Twitterization? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ArhcAngel (247594) on Friday December 07, 2012 @08:35PM (#42221707)

    Valve/Steam haven't shown any signs of being douches so far,

    Neither did GameSpy (originally known as QuakeSpy [wikipedia.org]) prior to its acquisition by GLU Mobile. My question is didn't they have a contract in place to prevent this? If not, why not? If I am developing my product around a third parties ecosystem I am making damn sure they can't just pull the rug out on a whim. I'm sure there are details missing to this story. I can't believe GLU would be able to down these services without notifying the affected partners.

  • Re:Twitterization? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by somersault (912633) on Friday December 07, 2012 @09:11PM (#42221979) Homepage Journal

    Why?

    Because the Quake engine had it, Half-Life (based on Quake Engine) had it, and the Source engine has it. I used to use it to connect to LAN and internet games alike. All of Valve's games have been based on continual evolution of this engine. Valve always let you access the console in PC versions of your games. Maybe the console versions too, I'm not sure there. They also actively encourage modding of their games.

    Just because you're a fuckwit who has poured money into Steam and therefore, since you see yourself as NOT a fuckwit, it can't have been a fuckwit decision?

    Money doesn't mean that much to me at this point in my life, and so doesn't really come into what I think of Steam.

    I see Steam as more of a delivery mechanism. Pretty much all games on Steam have been designed to be able to run separately. If you really want to, you can strip out the DRM and run them standalone.

    Take it from me: you're a fuckwit.

    I'm not sure you're qualified to make that assumption in this context. Anyone who has been paying the slightest attention to the PC gaming scene over the last 20 years can see that Valve have been one of the best companies out there in terms of making good games, and encouraging the community to modify them to make them even better.

  • by poly_pusher (1004145) on Friday December 07, 2012 @10:41PM (#42222551)
    They were bigger than this. They really bungled an opportunity for control of a niche that Steam ended up filling. I remember when I used to play Quake 3 through Gamespy. I couldn't help but think "wow, if they add the ability to let me buy and download games through here, provide a single location for access to game mods, and figure out a way to let me order Pizza while in game, they are going to take control of PC gaming."

    Instead Steam did it "no you can't order pizza directly but you can open a browser and grubhub."

    What Steam and Valve also did well was they gave you a reason to want to be a part of their community. Games like left 4 dead encouraged you to make friends otherwise you'd get stuck with a horrible team. When I was on Gamespy, there was never any incentive to participate in the community.
  • Re:Twitterization? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nocosd (2598103) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @01:33AM (#42223271)

    While I agree in principle that "holding one's games hostage" was a bad thing, you should listen to Gabe Newell's reasoning behind the TOS change here [joystiq.com] (fast forward to about 8:15). If you read the TOS, it doesn't talk about not being able to sue them, it's about not being able to start a class action suit against them. As Gabe Newell (briefly) explains in the video, the class action suits they face start out very one-sided in favor of the suing attorney. It costs them a ton of money just to go through the motions for the court, no matter if they're completely in the right or not. That's not exactly fair, regardless of how much money anyone thinks Valve has. As it was put in the video, "it's a shakedown."

    Having worked as a class action attorney, I do agree with you to a certain extent. Many class actions are simply shakedowns by plaintiff attorneys. But they can also be one of the only ways to hold a company liable for their wrongdoing. Are you, or anyone for that matter, going to sue Valve/Steam for $50? I know I wouldn't go through the hassle of a lawsuit for so little money, even if I had a bulletproof case. And this works to the company's advantage because if they can take $50 from a million people through wrongful means, but none of those people will sue individually, then the company essentially just stole $50 million with no risk.

    Granted, the attorneys on both sides see most of the money. But if you look at class actions as taking unjust gains away from companies, rather than reimbursing consumers, class action are, other than government action, the only way to really hold these companies accountable for their actions.

  • Re:Twitterization? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nemyst (1383049) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @01:34AM (#42223275) Homepage

    There's one big difference between GameSpy and Valve, though: Valve is a privately owned corporation. They're not at the whims of often disconnected or plain and simply stupid shareholders, they're not forced to disclose numbers for anything (and indeed, rarely do), they're not chasing next quarter's profit margin, and perhaps most importantly the owners care about the company, their products, and their fans. I don't see a Carly Fiorina getting on Valve's team anytime soon, if ever.

    Going public may give you a big money boost, but it's like selling your soul to the devil.

  • Re:Twitterization? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by crontabminusell (995652) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @02:39AM (#42223523)
    I don't consider a one-time $50 loss the end of the world (and I doubt you do either). You might not sue them for the $50, but I assume you wouldn't give them any more of your money after you got burned once. If they really, truly screwed $50 each out of a million people, they'd likely only get away with it once. I think Valve, at least, has been around long enough to realize that would be a really stupid move. They would get blasted on all the gaming news outlets and would see their revenues drop sharply. That doesn't seem to be in the best interest of the company.
  • Re:Twitterization? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dkf (304284) <donal.k.fellows@manchester.ac.uk> on Saturday December 08, 2012 @05:00AM (#42223911) Homepage

    Going public may give you a big money boost, but it's like selling your soul to the devil.

    Technically, it's selling your soul to Wall St.

    No, I take that back. You're absolutely correct.

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