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GameSpy's New Owners Begin Disabling Multiplayer Without Warning 247

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 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.

      • gamespy is still used by a lot of older games, with no alternative.

        I discovered this the hard way when I just got battlefield 2 for the 10th anniversary of 1942.

        It was always a kludgy system. They've shut down more service offerings over the past 10 years than I think have opened.

      • Have a gamespy proxy, that pretends to be gamespy, but can convert each and every packet to the new server system.

        It should be possible, have local firewall redirect to a proxy translator to a new server.


        • A wrapper wouldn't make a ton of sense. But just writing your own implementation of the Gamespy master server would be relatively easy. For most games it's implemented as a simple heartbeat system, with servers periodically reporting to the master, and clients then querying the master for a list of servers.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        GameSpy has been assholes going back to when they were a freeware providing game matching for Quake over 300 years ago.

    • I always thought GameSpy was bigger brand than this.

      Maybe 10 years ago, but lately? I'm surprised they're still in business. I would have thought they went the way of TEN by now.

    • 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.
  • Twatted? Is there a term for when a company decides to make more money at the expense of all of their customers? If not, now seem as good a time as any to coin one!

    • 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.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Lonewolf666 ( 259450 )

        The same goes for users willingly buying games with online DRM such as Steam or Origin (the EA DRM system). That's also asking to be fucked over.

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

          by somersault ( 912633 ) on Friday December 07, 2012 @08:18PM (#42221557) Homepage Journal

          I'll give you being wary of EA/Origin, but Valve/Steam haven't shown any signs of being douches so far, so I give them the benefit of the doubt. I'm pretty sure all Source based games have the option to connect directly to a server if you have the IP at least, and with other games these days you basically know that you're not getting eternal support. I find it crazy that so many people are willing to buy a new Call Of Duty every year or two when it's basically the same game just with new maps, but that's the way of it these days.. when I started online gaming, I got years of fun out of free Half-Life mods and free maps. I still have a lot of respect for Valve and the way they foster community.

          • 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 []) 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.

            • gamespy has been owned by a few different companies. IGN being the former.

              • Re:Twitterization? (Score:4, Informative)

                by ArhcAngel ( 247594 ) on Friday December 07, 2012 @09:15PM (#42222041)
                The link I referenced has the full list. The point is Valve could sell out at any time and the new owner might not be as nice. At least they are a private company so there isn't any danger of a hostile takeover.

                GLU Mobile is having a bad [] 4thQ [] and this stinks to me of a plot to extort money off of their affiliates.
            • 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.

              Then you better make cross platform OS agnostic applications. Do you get a contract from MS for Windows programs to ensure they won't put your code on the Malicious Software Removal Tool's kill list? It's not the same with middle ware, eh? But what is an OS but middle-ware for hardware abstraction? They probably didn't get such a contract with GameSpy for the same reason they don't have one with MS.

              Valve's bringing Steam to Linux, so I think you're spot on with the 3rd party rug and carpet analogy...

            • GameSpy was fairly crappy and slow back in the day, it wasn't very well integrated in many of the games that depended on it and personally I'd usually try to avoid games that used it. Credibility and presentation counts a lot, it always seemed to be the painful piece of crap ware you had to put up with to get to were you wanted to go.
              • LOL...Unless you had an ISDN [] line or better "back in the day" the internet in general was crappy and slow let alone a FPS. Gamespy 3D [] was a godsend because it would test the ping times for you and tell you how bad the server you WANTED to hop on was vs. another. I'm not saying it was perfect but it was fantastic for what it did.
                • FPS games weren't bad on dialup. You just found a local server. Back when I lived in the South, I frequented a Day of Defeat server in Virginia -- on cheap dialup, I was getting ~100-150 ping, which is more or less what I get on cable for east/west coast connections.

                  So, FPS-wise at least, the world hasn't gotten any better -- it's just gotten wider. I guess. Weird.

            • 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.

          • by icsx ( 1107185 )
            Thats not actually true. Valve has taken a direction where they plan to run servers themselves more and more to multiplayergames they make. The people who previously were running multiplayer servers, as in the community and people willing to run them, are now taking a hit due to lack of players and Valve making things harder.

            The lack of Support regarding Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is a good example. Community owners requested that Valve fixes the broken menus issue, instead, they broke them even f
        • A lot of developers have no choice but to choose middleware for their games. The alternative would cost way more, which for a budget tends to be a larger piece of the pie than middleware.

          At least with steam, Valve have promised to unlock all the doors should they ever go out of business.

        • Valve has officially stated that in the event that they would have to shut down the service they would provide an update to allow full offline access to all the user's content. So if you've downloaded your games and backed them up you'd be fine.
          In that way they provide a balanced service. Users can download their content anywhere they game, and their saves and other data travel with them. It works out. Their DRM is the least intrusive I've encountered. No nasty rootkits or broken drivers polluting my system

      • I would imagine that going with a single source solution is what allowed them to afford it. "If you just use us, we'll keep your servers up until we don't, and we won't charge you an arm and a leg."

    • by rk ( 6314 )

      Yes, it's called "economics".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2012 @07:43PM (#42221255)

    write your own master servers, and modify the client to work with your own authentication mechanism

    • Which you can't do without ripping out the library that talks to the original host, as you won't have a licence for it.
      So, you now need to reimplement both client libraries, and servers, at a time when you can't test your mods against the original, because they've shut down the servers.
      This is not going to be cheap.

    • by Sir_Sri ( 199544 ) on Friday December 07, 2012 @07:51PM (#42221337)

      That's the problem. gamespy is mainly legacy stuff, Sniper elite is from about 2005, neverwinter nights is a lot older than that. There's just no money in writing all new multiplayer + patching for a 7 or 8 year old game unless it's an MMO type product. It's not that you can't do it, it's that 7 or 8 years on with no warning there isn't a whole lot of value in allocating 3 programmers for 3 or 4 months onto the problem.

      Everything new is going to be done with your own publisher servers, the console platform publishers or with Steam, I think the last big game to use gamespy for multiplayer was borderlands, or at least that's the last big one I can think of. Borderlands 2 looks like it integrates steamworks for PC multiplayer.

      • Depends on the cost but they could do a kickstarter to transition the games to something else. If there is absolutely no money left then they should open source these games.
        • by Sir_Sri ( 199544 )

          If there are 2000-3000 people still semi regularly playing your game, and it's going to take 100k to get it going how likely do you think a kickstarter is? What if you can't get it done? (Some of this stuff is absolutely ancient code, the people involved may have long since moved on or stopped coding for years, it may be writing multiplayer from the ground up. Not impossible, but probably not worth the expense of many tens or small hundreds of thousands of dollars for a small number of players). And we

      • Aren't both StarCraft (1, including Brood War) and WarCraft 2 (Battle.Net edition, which include the expansion) still supported on Battle.Net? Those games are at least 14 years old now. WC3 is also still supported, at over 10 years. I suspect Diablo 2 is as well, although I haven't checked. I do not like the direction that Blizzard has gone, and refuse to buy their new games until they make signing into Battle.Net completely optional, but they do a fantastic job of supporting their old ones.

  • 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 Dahamma ( 304068 )

      7 years is already a pretty long term contract for a mediocre FPS shooter. They aren't going to make any more money on Sniper game sales, as Sniper 2 was released this year.

      • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Friday December 07, 2012 @09:02PM (#42221913)
        A wiser company might have included well defined renewal terms, perhaps an inflation adjusted flat rate plus adders for number of users and bandwidth utilization.

        They say the cost is "far in excess" of what they were previously paying, but "tens of thousands of pounds a year" is far less than a single employee costs, so it's not unreasonable to think that perhaps it wasn't a profitable proposition for GLU/Gamespy. Perhaps there were terms of the type described, the success of the game caused the user/bandwidth adders to increase, and this is just a case of trying to redirect customer anger because Rebellion doesn't want to foot the bill for an older game, despite its success.

        You call it "mediocre," but it won game of the year, has good ratings, was successful enough to spawn a sequel, and has enough of a continuing user base to get angered by this event, requiring in a public response by the publisher. None of which support the adjective "mediocre".
        • Game of the year means exactly dick. There are more game of the year video games than years of video games. Plenty of sequels are made specifically because the first version sucked.

  • by cynop ( 2023642 ) on Friday December 07, 2012 @07:48PM (#42221289)

    I suppose in the future, developers will think twice before using gamespy.

    • Especially since they've just proven they have no problem with publicly screwing over their user-base without any notice what-so-ever.
      Hey, I bet if they'd have just come out and said, "We're going to shutdown that service in 2 weeks, you might want to post your sever ips for your users." they'd still get yelled at by users, but at least it wouldn't harm them professionally.
  • Unfortunately, this move has ended the matchmaking capability of Microsoft Flight Simulator X, the last title of the series before Microsoft fired ACES Studio, this seems a great shame, as the game still had well over 100 people using the service at any given moment, and Microsoft is unlikely to foot the bill for a premium service considering their abandoned support of the title. Thankfully there is also a direct connect system whereby a user enters an IP address, but this just isn't as effective for the co
  • 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, 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.

    • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Friday December 07, 2012 @07:52PM (#42221341) Journal

      Three things, if you include an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.

      • by tepples ( 727027 )

        Three things, if you include an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.

        Which is exactly the problem. A Christian's fanatical devotion should be to God.

      • We need to poke GameSpy with the soft cushions!

    • by Altrag ( 195300 )

      Is there a free middleware that would do similar things?

      If the answer is 'no' (or if whatever there is isn't large enough to be useful,) then a developer has the choice of either using a closed service with a solid history or rolling their own and entering a very costly "not invented here" cycle with all of the attendant bugs and crap to deal with that could have been avoided.

      Nobody's going to use a fly-by-night company to host important parts of their project to be sure.. but GameSpy and IGN have been arou

      • dpmaster is serving well for the many Free id tech-based games out there.
      • Is there a free middleware that would do similar things?

        If the answer is 'no' (or if whatever there is isn't large enough to be useful,) then a developer has the choice of either using a closed service with a solid history or rolling their own and entering a very costly "not invented here" cycle with all of the attendant bugs and crap to deal with that could have been avoided.

        Nobody's going to use a fly-by-night company to host important parts of their project to be sure.. but GameSpy and IGN have been around for years and years and nobody could have foreseen such problems 5-10 years ago!

        The answer is "no". The GameSpy platform provided several things:

        (1) Matchmaking
        (2) Centralized storage of user generated content
        (3) Cross-platform support
        (4) Player statistics/leaderboards
        (5) Discussion communities
        (6) Centralized identity for multiple games
        (7) Third party hosting
        (8) Scalability

        #1 is not actually that valuable, unless you are into PVP games; I'm not, but I could see it being an issue for a lot of the slop games that are out there.

        #6 is more valuable to the players than it is to the game co

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2012 @07:49PM (#42221305)

    Who could have called that happening?

    Well, besides cortchety old Richard Stallman. Nobody listens to him.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      Of course, his opinion is that any corporation is out to screw you so it's like using a broken clock to predict the time. Unless of course you think all corporations are evil and you should go live in some hippie commune that make everything they need themselves.

      • Not all corporations are evil, just the publicly traded ones. Keeping the shareholders happy becomes the #1 priority for the CEO (and everyone under him). They don't worry about unhappy customers leaving for the competition, because they can just buy the competition.
  • If your going to use a another company infrastructure make sure your contracts have an exit plan. This reminds me of Gree killing OpenFeint. I wonder if there is a connection.
  • Well, probably using kickstarter is the way to get funding to redevolop your hosting software.

    Tens of thousands of pounds is well inside the range that you can get from kickstarter. Some game developers got a million or two. So give it a try.
  • Of course, there's no problem with relying on third parties to provide access to games that you've purchased. I mean, STEAM will be around forever to allow us to play all those games that phone home. Right?
  • Lost a game we have been playing weekly for years myself altho it has been a couple months now for Flatout2 :(
    But, not going with gamespy may have turned out even worse as the publisher went away years ago. No idea who has been paying up to this point if anyone.

    Gamepsy has the infrastructure for this already and many of these games aren't even a blip on their radar. Seems like the good will just keeping them up might be worth it. How much can it really cost them to do matchmaking for a game with a couple hu

    • by bmo ( 77928 )

      PS...who does the message of the day thing and what are they smoking...."My Aunt MAUREEN was a military advisor to IKE & TINA TURNER!!" wtf?

      It's a Zippy quote. []

      Yes, Bill Griffith has smoked a lot of weird things in his life, physical and metaphysical.

      Slashdot uses the fortune-mod to take the output of fortune and put it on the web.

      bmo@owlcomm ~> fortune zippy
      I wish I was on a Cincinnati street corner holding a clean dog!
      bmo@owlcomm ~> fortune zippy
      If our behavior is s

  • Gamespy's Facebook page is particularly amusing, as someone keep parroting the line back to angry gamers that, despite Gamespy's logos being plastered all over the game, they aren't responsible for continuing to provide the online service, and gamers should 'reach out' the the game publishers... and then there's the not-so-subtle pot shot at publishers for being stingey and 'choosing not to support' the games.

    It's hilarious - while it may be techically accurate - 95% won't understand, or care to understand, the difference, and will continue to blame Gamespy. The publishers, of course, will be only to happy to let Gamespy take the fall.

    Having shredded Gamespy's goodwill, I have only one thing to ask: Would you say that was $2.8m well spent, Glu?

  • Any market for a 3rd party middleware that can be used with other services?

    Anyone got API docs, or want to reverse-engineer the Gamespy middleware?

    Perhaps a couple gamedevs could concentrate on that instead of rewriting their game :-)

  • How can you as a developer choose to rely on a third party organization for your livelihood, AND fail to choose to get a signed SLA, contract period, and guarantee of renewal for a certain period at price $X, before agreeing to start purchasing from a service provider?

    You are shooting yourself in the foot. Don't bet your livelihood on a vendor, you don't have a solid agreement with.

    Don't buy from a vendor, if their going away will have significant cost, unless you protect yourself against that cos

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