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EA Ending Online Support For Dozens of Games 329

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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  • Lol... (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 12, 2014 @11:44AM (#46979639)

    I can still play quake 2 online whenever I want :)

  • 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?
  • Re:Lol... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 12, 2014 @11:47AM (#46979669)
    That's why non-MMO multiplayer games should always allow users to run their own servers. I still play the original Unreal and Quake 3 online because of this.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 12, 2014 @11:51AM (#46979703)

    Except these are offline games with a multiplayer component, which is rendered useless without the servers to host it. This is very different to the licensed MMORPG-type games.

  • 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."

    Electronic Asshats
  • 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?
  • 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".

  • by wiggles ( 30088 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @12:04PM (#46979841)

    > If they programmed it correctly

    As a server admin, if this is your standard for correct server side programming, I've never seen a correctly programmed application in my entire 30 year career.

    In my experience, server application migrations rarely function flawlessly across OS versions. Most of the time, major application modifications need to be made.

    I agree with you on the server code, however. If they're going to abandon it, they might as well open source it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 12, 2014 @12:04PM (#46979849)

    Except that they are shutting down because gamespy is shutting down. They made the games with gamespy based matchmaking, so they would either need to change the games to use a different matchmaking service or get the source for the servers from gamespy (lol yea right).

  • Re:Lol... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AuMatar ( 183847 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @12:06PM (#46979859)

    No they aren't stealing. They paid for the game upfront. There is no theft involved.

  • 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.
  • Re:Lol... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShieldW0lf ( 601553 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @12:19PM (#46979951) Journal

    the only reason why MMO games DONT let players run their own servers is that they make no money from them. im sure blizzard wouldnt mind letting people have private servers as long as they still paid for the content and the subscription... but generally speaking, they are stealing.

    You can't steal an intangible, you fucking idiot. I know that's not very diplomatic, but for fucks sakes, this is "News for Nerds", not the bloody short bus.

  • by dougmc ( 70836 ) <dougmc+slashdot@frenzied.us> on Monday May 12, 2014 @12:23PM (#46979981) Homepage

    If they programmed it correctly, migration to a new server would involve "rsync *.tar.gz . && tar xfz *.tar.gz" or something similar. There is no reason that needs to be complicated, so maintenance time should be minimal.

    Yeah, good luck finding *anything* that's that simple.

    Even moving the simplest possible website (just static files, nothing dynamic) to a new host is more work than that. (You could move the content itself with rsync or tar (though not with the command lines you gave), but the new server needs to be configured, the web server still needs to be set up, etc.)

    If your definition of "programmed correctly" is that migration to a new host is as simple as you think it is, let me give you a hint ... by that definition, almost nothing of any value is programmed correctly. And modern systems, with clustered setups with failover across multiple nodes, multiple databases, connections to billing systems and the like are several orders of magnitude more complicated than you seem to think they should be.

    In any event, this is moot. It's Gamespy that's shutting down, not some server that EA runs that's currently sitting under somebody's desk. In order to fix this, EA would need to dig the source for their old games out of storage, make sure they can still build it (for a game that hasn't been touched in a decade by them, this is real concern), pay a programmer to replace the bits that Gamespy uses to use something else, build it, run it through some minimal testing and release it. All this for a game that may not have made EA any money in years, and it needs to be repeated for a large number of older games.

    It's a business decision. To update every game ever made by them would cost a bunch, so EA is wisely deciding to only support the more recent games or the games with sufficient demand. We could argue that they're not using the ideal criteria in deciding what should be updated, but ultimately they do have to draw the line somewhere.

    My guess is that Gamespy has had very little development done in a long time and mostly just sits in a room of servers somewhere mostly running on autopilot -- costing money in hosting and power costs. I'm not sure how it is about making money -- do game publishers pay to use it? Advertising? In any event, if it's costing money but not making money, they probably told the developers if they didn't pay up they'd shut it down, and the developers didn't pay up sufficiently, so ... shut it down.

  • Re:Lol... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @12:24PM (#46979985) Homepage

    So buying a game and not continually paying the company to be able to continue playing the game is stealing?

    Imagine how much I'm stealing by not buying the game in the first place! Not as in pirating it but as in refusing to deal with a game where I need to pay for a subscription just for the "privilege" of playing the game I purchased.

  • Re:Lol... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Monday May 12, 2014 @12:24PM (#46979987)

    What a combination of naivete and FUD... the mind boggles!

    First of all, the case law on this topic was in fact Blizzard v. BNetD [eff.org], where Blizzard objected to people running their own servers despite the fact that there was no content or subscription associated with it. That pretty much blows your claim that "Blizzard wouldn't mind" out of the water. Second, it is entirely unreasonable, and perhaps even slanderous, to claim that "generally speaking" people must have committed copyright infringement based solely on the fact that they wanted to host their own multiplayer games!

  • Re:Lol... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NeverVotedBush ( 1041088 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @12:24PM (#46979989)
    I've seen way too many internets-enabled things get orphaned and made inoperable when various service providers decide to end support. Some not even all that old.

    They either need to guarantee some period of service (which will also call attention to the fact that support will one day be lost along with the ability to use whatever program or device), or allow users some alternative for when they do retire something.

    I think it is unreasonable to demand that products be supported in perpetuity, but companies need to also understand it isn't right to orphan and render software or devices unusable. They need to open it up, remove DRM with a patch, or do whatever it takes to allow products people pay for to continue to be used. Or state very clearly (not in the fine print) that said device or software will likely cease to work past some date, but is guaranteed to work until that date.

    There is precedence for this in DVD digital downloads. They clearly state the download is available until some time or other, and the buyer knows when that date is (if they read the package).
  • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Monday May 12, 2014 @12:32PM (#46980067)

    Amen. If they are going to end support, they should release the source to both game and servers, that way the community could continue to host servers and the ranking system of they want.

    They should be forced by law to release that source code. The only reason the public granted them copyright in the first place was so that the work could eventually become Public Domain. If they're going to lock it away instead, then they've violated the social contract and no longer deserve the privilege of holding a monopoly on it.

  • by BilI_the_Engineer ( 3618871 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @12:59PM (#46980429)

    Seriously? There's still an active Doom community. People play games because they're fun, and they don't become less fun just because they're old.

  • Re: Lol... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jittles ( 1613415 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @01:07PM (#46980525)

    Now that's just plainly overly generalized; "theft of services" is an entirely real thing and may not involve anything tangible; the most obvious business example is refusing to pay a consultant. In the case of private MMO servers, this isn't happening: the client, protocol, and server content are already paid for, after all, so what is done is definitely infringement, but there are definitely still kinds of intangible theft.

    Theft of service is something tangible. What are you stealing? My electric service? You're stealing my tangible electricity (try not to kill yourself if you touch it). If you steal my internet services then you are stealing the physical capacity I have to transport bits across the internet. If you copy my data, I may not be happy with you, but I still have a copy of it. I'm not saying that it should be legal to do so, I am just saying that it's not really stolen. Some other law has been broken (for instance copyright violation or unauthorized computer access).

  • Re:Lol... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by prisoner-of-enigma ( 535770 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @01:58PM (#46981215) Homepage

    I oppose the very idea of "professional entertainment", be it musicians, athletes, actors or games programmers.

    Let me get this straight: you oppose all forms of compensated entertainment? So you consume no music, no movies, no fictional books, no games of any kind (electronic or otherwise), view no works of art...nothing at all? Or do you consume these things but just presume that people should never be paid for providing them to you?

    I'm not about to shill for the copyright-manipulating media conglomerates, but IMO your viewpoint is either hopelessly extreme or ridiculously hypocritical. If people choose to entertain someone else, that effort has intrinsic value. Now exactly what that value might be is debatable and purely subjective based upon the value it has to those consuming said entertainment, but it surely has value to those who consume it, otherwise they wouldn't. You pay for people to fix your food at restaurants, or to build your computer components, or any number of other trades that require someone with a particular skill to perform a particular service. Why should entertainment alone be considered a pro bono profession?

  • Re:Lol... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by demachina ( 71715 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @02:47PM (#46981963)

    BF2 64 man Karkand Infantry Only probably the best PVP game ever, and I doubt it will ever be topped on the sick trajectory PVP shooters are on.

    Sad to see it go, though there is only one server left. Big E, and the Big E admins suck so it was effectively dead already anyway.

    All of EA's lame COD knock offs since simply don't capture what makes multiplayer PVP intense and fun, nor does COD:

    A. Teams need to be evenly balanced
    B. Teams need to be in a confined space so there is immediate contact
    C. Needs to be some tactics and strategy but not a lot, versus aimless COD styling circling, killing and being killed
    C. Weapons need to be equal, simple, skill based. No air, no armor
    D. No stupid gimmicks
    E. No excessively dense, expensive graphics. Simple graphics is actually better and you aren't forced in to a constant hardware upgrade just to play games that are immensly fun even if the graphics are simple. Excessive graphics also drive up costs needlessly.

    If EA had just kept fixing the bugs in BF2, spent more effort controlling hacks, did new maps occassionaly, did minimal refinements, someone like Twitch promoted a competition system around it, someone provided some professionally admin'ed servers to get away from clan based bias, it would've gone on forever like Starcraft.

  • Re:Lol... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ShieldW0lf ( 601553 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @04:18PM (#46983107) Journal

    I make a concerted effort to:
    - consume no music that wasn't published freely by it's creators
    - amuse myself instead by jamming with my friends, or hanging out with my friends who are jamming and aspire to nothing more
    - read books that are published free of any copyright, or are no longer governed by copyright, or are available at the library
    - publish my writings free of any restriction
    - build software only for hire, and only on platforms that are not restricted to those who pay for a license, never for those who would profit through copyright
    - avoid playing video games
    - avoid television and movies that were created for profit
    - purchase used clothing from boutique stores, or have clothes made for me by someone I know
    - avoid purchasing anything that I've seen an advertisement for
    - eat only at owner-run restaurants where I can introduce myself to the owner and the cook and get to know them
    - volunteer my time to creating abundance by involving myself in urban gardens, distributing parts for RepRap's, etc
    - avoid working for companies whose profits come from advertising or copyright enforcement
    - never loan money at it interest, but give it away to freely to those who need and deserve it if I can afford it
    - give away my material possessions when I have no further need of them, rather than selling them

    Have I held to these principles like a rock? No. I'm a human trying to get by in a culture whose values are diametrically opposed to my own, and it's proving very difficult to leave, though I am trying my best to get the hell out of North America. When every scrap of material and every square foot of land is someone's private property, you have to make compromises in order to survive. But these are my principles, and I do try to live by them.

    At the end of the day, I am opposed to profit, and to private property. I consider both to be crimes against mankind. Which basically puts me in opposition to every signatory to the United Nations, because private property is one of their core shared values.

    I've brought a lot of good to a lot of people with my deeds and my creations, and I am not a greedy person, so even though I've made some compromises that I'm ashamed of, I feel pretty good about it all at the end of the day. I'm not God's gift to mankind, but I know I am one of the men who carries other men on his shoulders.

    The point of this isn't to toot my own horn. You wouldn't recognize me on the street, what would be the point. It's to assure you that, while you may or may not agree with my views, they are GENUINE. I have been described as inspiring by people who didn't think I was within earshot, and that's all the reward I need to carry on.

"Let every man teach his son, teach his daughter, that labor is honorable." -- Robert G. Ingersoll