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EA Ending Online Support For Dozens of Games 329

Posted by Soulskill
from the your-fun-is-no-longer-profitable dept.
Last month Gamespy announced it would be shutting down at the end of May. Many game makers relied upon Gamespy for all of the multiplayer and online services related to their games, and there was a scramble to transition those games away from Gamespy. Now, Electronic Arts has decided it's not worth the trouble for older titles. They're terminating online support for a huge number of games. The game list includes: Battlefield 2, Crysis 1 & 2, Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, Neverwinter Nights 1 & 2, and Star Wars: Battlefront 1 & 2. EA said, "As games get replaced with newer titles, the number of players still enjoying the older games dwindles to a level - typically fewer than 1 per cent of all peak online players across all EA titles - where it's no longer feasible to continue the behind-the-scenes work involved with keeping these games up and running."
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EA Ending Online Support For Dozens of Games

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  • by CaseCrash (1120869) on Monday May 12, 2014 @11:46AM (#46979659)
    Well then can we get the code for the server-side so we can run our own private servers to play the games we bought?
    • Aside from "That less than 1% of players then MIGHT NOT BUY NEW GAMES!!" are there any actual downsides to EA to do that? Would they have to spend time and money updating the code, bug checking it, making sure it wouldn't create big security holes for EA or anyone running their own server?

      While EA does plenty of stupid things that don't even seem to be attributable to greed, I'd be a bit skeptical that even they are dumb enough to slap their customers in the face like this without any reason whatsoever.
      • by jedidiah (1196) on Monday May 12, 2014 @12:02PM (#46979821) Homepage

        Never underestimate the tendency of a large corporation to do something mean and stupid just to save a few pennies. Someone is probably going to get a bonus for shutting off some servers and doing some creative accounting.

        Chances are that no extra effort has to be undertaken to keep these games online beyond "do nothing" and "just let it be".

        • Never underestimate the tendency of a large corporation to do something mean and stupid just to save a few pennies. Someone is probably going to get a bonus for shutting off some servers and doing some creative accounting.

          Chances are that no extra effort has to be undertaken to keep these games online beyond "do nothing" and "just let it be".

          The problem is that "do nothing" still has associated costs. EA may be planning on upgrading or moving their data center, they could be moving towards new servers or clusters that require less power, cooling, cheaper to run etc. The cost of moving or migrating the legacy game servers becomes costly and a nightmare. On top of that, they need to keep the servers patched, monitored, etc. The point is that "do nothing" still requires overhead (electricity, cooling, maintenance, etc) that costs more than the

        • by Xenx (2211586)
          Except, the games were developed with Gamespy for online play. Gamespy isn't their service, so they don't control the fact that it's going away. So yes, there is work required to re-implement online play. I don't like the choice to end support, but I don't fault them for making it.
      • by sir-gold (949031)

        In this particular case, they might have to re-write the entire server code from scratch, depending on whether the server was written by EA or by gamespy. Even if it was written by EA, and they still have the source, it might need modification to run outside the gamespy system.

      • by asmkm22 (1902712)

        It would cost money to release the code, because they'd have to clean it up. There is a lot of code-reuse in games, especially those that are part of franchises. Releasing even older code means giving access to potential insider information, like naming conventions, or even exposing possible bugs exploits that could very well have carried over to more current games.

        The backlash on this stuff is actually kind of interesting to me, though. I see a lot of people basically complaining about this 'in principl

  • Back when I was playing the Mass Effect series I needed support on a couple of occasions.
    I attempted in vain to get assistance via the legitimate support channels.
    I quickly found out their "support" isn't worth the time and effort and I was got more help via forums, etc;
    • Forums, if available, are usually the first place to go anyway. I can't remember the last time I actually called a vendor for support if I needed it. I think I was 14? so...20yrs ago.
      • The support I needed wasn't about the game really.
        It was the problem many users had running the game once EA made ME a "phone home" game.
        I think this was in ME 2?
        I would start up the game, get to the login screen and it would show I was connected but would then throw a variety of errors...
        I eventually figured out a sort of "dance in a circle backwards during a full moon on a Tuesday" workaround that some on the forums had suggested.
        It was bullshit that I couldn't just play the game, that I paid fo
  • Wait! (Score:5, Funny)

    by 50000BTU_barbecue (588132) on Monday May 12, 2014 @11:52AM (#46979711) Homepage Journal

    Can I still play Skate or Die on my C64?

  • by Aphadon (3402087) on Monday May 12, 2014 @11:55AM (#46979747)
    The official servers for at least Neverwinter Nights 1 and 2 have been offline since last year, so this recent announcement won't impact them. Community run servers have taken over for those games (e.g. http://www.nwnlist.com./ [www.nwnlist.com]
    • by afidel (530433)

      Cool, good to know that NWN still has a way to do matchmaking post Gamespy. Even if I no longer run my own node I definitely have fond memories of NWN and realize that there's STILL not a better engine for rolling your own adventure game.

  • translation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nimbius (983462) on Monday May 12, 2014 @11:56AM (#46979759) Homepage
    "Thank you for playing our fine line of rental games. If you wish to continue playing, please upgrade to our latest game and continue paying your subscription fees in a timely manner."

    --Regards,
    Electronic Asshats
    • by towermac (752159)

      You've nailed it. This is simply to make people buy the newer games.

      They keep support alive only long enough so as to not attract the attention of the FTC.

      • You've nailed it. This is simply to make people buy the newer games.

        Not buying it. If BF1942 has been online all this time, its kind of hard to accept your statement.

        Its because GameSpy went offline, and they dont think its worth the effort to patch those games. That too may be a problem for some of the more recent games, but some of the complaints about this are ridiculous.

  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Monday May 12, 2014 @11:57AM (#46979775) Homepage Journal

    "As games get replaced with newer titles, the number of players still enjoying the older games dwindles to a level - typically fewer than 1 per cent of all peak online players across all EA titles

    So every EA online game will die when the figure on a spreadsheet drops below a certain threshold. Why not open source the server software rather than abandon it?
    • What makes you think they are abandoning the software? Chances are the software core is the same for older and brand new games, with the differences being the rules system and assets - the system holding it all together at the EA end is more to do with scalability, speed, user management etc. Whats more likely here is that they are seeing too few users to justify a single supporting cluster per game, which would include front end servers, interconnects, database servers etc. From their point of view, its

    • by captjc (453680)

      No, The problem is that all their games relied on Gamespy. Now that Gamespy is going bye-bye, EA has to make the choice to either remove all the Gamespy crap from all of these game and patch everything or to just say, "it is too much work for absolutely no payoff". Now, for Battlefront 2 and Crysis this is a big deal because you can still purchase these games (Steam and Origin). The others as far as I know aren't still being sold and there is no real reason to still support them other then supporting the fe

    • by Algae_94 (2017070)

      "As games get replaced with newer titles, the number of players still enjoying the older games dwindles to a level - typically fewer than 1 per cent of all peak online players across all EA titles

      So every EA online game will die when the figure on a spreadsheet drops below a certain threshold. Why not open source the server software rather than abandon it?

      I know this isn't a popular idea here, but it really is a bad idea for EA to do anything to keep these games playing. They make money when selling a new game, anything that theoretically keeps old games out there being played takes up some of the gaming market and is interfering with them selling more games. As much as it sucks, it would be most useful to EA's position to try and stop people from playing these old games in any matter. It's not a matter of spending money maintaining old servers. No one e

  • I'm far from an EA fanboy. In fact, I hate them as much as the next guy, but...

    How many of those games actually have a very active online community that's getting annihilated by this move?

    That's right, none. Kids these days are pretty fickle and will move to the next online game and drop the last one, making it a barren wasteland online, as quickly as Carmen switched love affairs.
    • On the flip side: What would be the cost of running them on a "up as much as it's up" matchmaking VM. If there's so few people, the load should be trivial.

      Heck: Why aren't these all using the same single match-making system with just game profiles?

      Are any of these affected from a single-player POV? EA was a pioneer in "always call home' DRM.

      • The Star Wars Battlefront (SWBF) games aren't affected in single-player mode or LAN play. Yes, the PS2 versions support LAN play.

        You see how some are saying "this is why users should be able to run their own servers" comments?

        Well that's how the SWBF games have always worked! You can host the game either by:

        1 Using freely downloadable software provided by EA, on a PC to host game servers for PS2's (Dedicated PC)
        2. Hosting a game on a PS2 in "Dedicated" mode (PS2 Dedicated)
        3. Hosting and playing on a PS2.

  • Ouch, there are some seminal titles in there. MOHAA is one of the most influential games I could name.
  • by uCallHimDrJ0NES (2546640) on Monday May 12, 2014 @12:08PM (#46979877)
    ...better than to buy or play and EA games. They were cool back when it was Larry Bird vs. Dr. J 1-on-1, or Pinball Construction Set. EA has sucked for so many years now, I'm baffled that any nerd or geek would ever give them money for a game. And that's WITHOUT getting in to all the labor offenses.
    • by captjc (453680)

      Because SW Jedi Knight, SW Battlefront, KotOR, Crysis, Mass Effect, SimCity, The Sims, Dragon Age, and Red Alert are all fun games.

      Bitch and moan about their business practices all you want, they still make games people want to play.

  • They bought EA games. Aren't there enough reasons not to buy EA already?
  • I hope they don't drop support for the Adventure Construction Kit. That is the greatest game of all time.
  • I suspect that at this point much of the old game maintenance could be wrapped up into a single small working group (if they haven't already) so the cost should be very low. the demands upon the various servers and whatnot should also be greatly diminished along with the fact that with a combination of vastly more powerful servers available and the use of VMs should reduce the per user cost of running these servers to a tiny fraction of their original cost.

    With enough squeezing they might even be able to
    • So, what you're saying is that you don't disagree that it's entirely appropriate for EA to make a tradeoff between the costs of maintaining these games and the goodwill that maintaining them generates, but you're somehow certain that the "sleazy MBA" hasn't actually done a robust job of balancing those two factors. You acknowledge that the goodwill side is hard to measure, and you've therefore decided to assume, without knowing what the costs of maintaining the games are, that the goodwill must be greater

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