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Devs, gamers angry over Glu's handling of GameSpy Technology
Devs, gamers angry over Glu's handling of GameSpy Technology
December 12, 2012 | By Mike Rose

December 12, 2012 | By Mike Rose
More: Indie, Design

Following the acquisition of GameSpy Technology by publisher Glu Mobile earlier this year, the company has come under fire from developers and gamers for a number of changes to its services.

The GameSpy Open initiative, launched in 2010 as a means for developers to mine for data in their own titles, went free of charge last year. However, Glu today closed down the scheme, as it was struggling to properly monetize it.

To add to this ire, it also emerged that numerous multiplayer services powered by GameSpy for a variety of older video games have been closed down, including Neverwinter Nights, Sniper Elite, and Star Wars: Battlefront.

This led Sniper Elite's Rebellion senior management to respond, "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."

The statement continued, "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."

As gamers expressed their outrage on the company's Facebook page, GameSpy Technology was forced to offer a reply.

"We recognize that fans of games where the publisher has elected to discontinue GameSpy Technologies support are frustrated," says the statement. "However, reports that GameSpy Technologies 'shutdown servers without warning' are simply inaccurate."

The company says that it is game publishers that are choosing not to pay to maintain multiplayer servers for their games, and as such, GameSpy is closing down services for those publisher who are not continuing their payments.

"A number of our publisher partners elected to allow their contracts for GameSpy Technologies' services to lapse by not continuing to pay for these services," it reads.

"In some cases this lapsing ranges back as much as four years. GameSpy Technologies has continued to provide months, and in some cases years, of service support for free. However we cannot be expected to provide a service free of charge to publishers who choose not to renew their service agreements and in some cases remain delinquent in delivering payment for past services."

The company added, "It is regrettable that these publishers chose not to inform their users of the impending discontinuation of support. We understand the frustration of fans that until now weren't clear on why their game has lost some of its functionality, but hope that this clarifies the situation."

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Lewis Wakeford
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Didn't Glu massively increase the fees it was charging developers? Quote from Steve Heart, of Rebellion: "We have been informed that in order [to turn sniper elite servers back on] would cost us tens of thousands of pounds a year – far in excess of how much we were paying previously. "

The servers can't have cost anywhere near that prior to Glu taking over, I find it hard to believe a developer would have been supporting such an old game otherwise.

Amanda Lee Matthews
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"However, reports that GameSpy Technologies 'shutdown servers without warning' are simply inaccurate."

Uh, as a Neverwinter Nights customer that was still playing online (until multiplayer was shut down, apparently), I got no warning. I'm going to guess the players of the other games got no warning either.

"For the sake of clarity - the situation is identical to fans attributing fault to the hosting company of a popular website for ceasing hosting services, when the website owner refuses to pay its hosting bill."

That would only be a valid analogy if the hosting company then held the actual content of the website hostage. With website hosting you have the option to move to another, cheaper host - companies were not given a realistic option to do that in this case.

Tom Baird
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I think Glu is saying that if the customer's were uninformed it's the publisher's fault and not the fault of Glu. I.e. the Publisher's knew well in advance that if they didn't accept the new pricing their games were going to be shut down.

In that case you can get angry at Glu about raising the prices on their middleware service, but it really was Atari/Infogrames' responsibility to inform you that the servers were closing down.

Although there seems to be enough 'he says/she says' that communication between the two parties may not have been particularly solid, and we'll probably never knew the gritty details.

Edit: And the option of 'Use a different middleware' existed here as well. It was just an issue of cost vs. value for the publishers who opted to close rather than switch. It's not like they can expect Glu to send over a team of implementers to implement someone else's middleware into games as an exit option. Maybe in the future these companies can better evaluate their choice of middleware and take into account that implementing a third party Client-SDK can end up being a very long term decision if they don't make it easily replaceable.

Vin St John
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Until someone refutes the statements made by GameSpy/Glu here - that game publishers weren't paying the bills, and that they knew about the changes coming well in advance - I'm on Glu's side here.

Furthermore, this problem is going to happen more in the future. There are games on iPhone using OpenFeint, just shut down. What happens when Apple realizes that GameCenter is not profitable for them, and they're better off shutting it down in favor of Facebook? (hypothetical example). What happens when Google Apps, which just stopped being free for NEW devs, stops being free for old ones as well?

It's up to the developers of the game to establish a terms of service with their players that says these games might shut down, to price their games accordingly, and to inform their players when the end is coming.

Amanda Lee Matthews
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I understand it was the publishers' fault customers weren't informed, I'm not saying I blame them for that, just that the statement that it wasn't without warning was not true the way they phrased it - because it would only be true if they had said "reports that GameSpy Technologies 'shut down servers without warning TO PUBLISHERS' are inaccurate".

I'm not saying they should have kept the service going despite the publishers not paying. But I DO think they should have given the publishes a REALISTIC way to move to another "host"/middleware. Expecting them to reprogram old games is not realistic.

I am also not saying that I think this is completely Glu's fault; I am only replying to what I am reading linked here, I understand that there are statements elsewhere about this situation, but it would be inappropriate to give my opinion about THOSE in THESE comments.

Nathan Mates
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Also affected are SWAT4, Flatout2, and Battlezone 2. These three games had matchmaking terminated in early October, 2012.

Battlezone 2 (which I'm working on in my spare time) had maybe 100 active MP players, still playing a 12 year old game. That should be a rounding error in terms of total Gamespy server bandwidth. As games get older, communities tend to shrink, and bandwidth tends to get cheaper. Thus, it should get cheaper to provide service, not more expensive.

Gamespy provided great support for Battlezone 2 that we at Pandemic (RIP) used Gamespy again for Star Wars: Battlefront 1 & 2, PC & PS2 versions. Until just now, Gamespy had outlasted virtually all other matchmaking technologies available in 1999. With Gamespy Open, I recommended it to others -- particularly indie developers -- who wanted basic matchmaking. Now that Gamespy Open has been canceled, and the reports I see from other developers, I would recommend that any developer stay far, far away from Gamespy for future titles. Informed game customers will also react negatively about Gamespy middleware being used in new titles. These decisions might boost GLU Mobile's bottom line in the very short term, but I wonder if these actions dry up future revenue. I would welcome an explanation from GLU Mobile.

Nathan Mates
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At , it notes that for the lowest usage levels, hosting is free. (Link from kotaku forums, via It would be great to see some active communication as to what the actual usage of these shutdown games was.

Jeremy Alessi
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This trend will only continue to get worse as we continue to rely on networking more and more. The only solution is to roll your own or make sure you're leveraging several middleware solutions redundantly.

The mobile market's going to be a mess once a few more Open Feints occur.