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GameSpy services shutdown will affect 50 EA games
GameSpy services shutdown will affect 50 EA games
May 12, 2014 | By Mike Rose

May 12, 2014 | By Mike Rose
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    18 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing



Newsbrief: Last month, GameSpy announced that it was shutting down its hosting services for good. Electronic Arts said today that after evaluating the situation, it has determined that online services for all EA games that use the GameSpy platform will be closed down at the end of June.

A total of 50 EA games will see their online portions shut down as a result, said the company, including Battlefield 2, Bulletstorm, Crysis 2 and Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3.

"Unfortunately, due to technical challenges and concerns about the player experience, we do not have a solution at this time," says the company. The statement added that the company is still investigating community-supported options to preserve online functionality for some of the titles.

The full list of games being shut down on June 30 can be found here.

Update: Mobile game developer and publisher Glu Mobile, who acquired GameSpy Technology from IGN back in 2012 and is therefore responsible for shutting down the GameSpy hosting services, responded to Gamasutra's request for comment with the following statement:

"Glu’s acquisition of GameSpy has been successful from the perspective of technology gained. The GameSpy multiplayer technology and team are now the foundation of Glu’s multiplayer platform. The GameSpy business itself proved to no longer be a viable business model, leading to Glu’s decision to sunset the hosting business."

When asked about whether or not the company might consider making some or all of the GameSpy Technology hosting services open-source, a Glu Mobile representative gave the following statement:

"Glu has no plans to provide this tech as an open-source offering. We have worked with partners to transition service – although the majority have chosen not to. Partners are making this decision based on economics of the service (alongside technical decisions based upon their ability to host the services and modify the games as needed.)

"Unfortunately the services provided by GameSpy are more complicated than is commonly thought – it’s not a question of simply hosting a single server."


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Comments


Michael Thornberg
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If they think this is a problem... just wait until services like Securom shuts down.

Sterling Reames
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It almost feels like EA was looking for a reason to stop supporting old games. You think they would have just ponied up money to keep Gamespy afloat if it really mattered to them. Either way, business is business, and it probably wasn't sustainable to keep all those games running regardless.

Nathan Mates
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Gamasutra- you’ve got an amazing position as a major gaming news site. You can submit a set of questions to GLU Mobile -- the owners of GameSpy, and those responsible for GameSpy's shutdown -- and their answers (or lack of answers) will put them on the spot. Basically, instead of just republishing press releases, actually be journalists and ask questions too. You could ask questions like:

- What did GLU Mobile aim to get from buying Gamespy?
- Has it been a benefit for the company?
- Do you think the various cancellations of service (this, and earlier ones) will benefit end users?
- Would they consider open sourcing pieces so that tech savvy communities could keep things going?
- Why should I ever consider buying a game from GLU Mobile after all this?

Disclaimer: I’m still patching and supporting Battlezone II in my spare time, on my own dime. We were one of the earliest 3rd party users of the Gamespy SDK, and had a small (~200 active players per week) when GLU Mobile yanked support for BZ2 on 2012/10/08. I had to do an emergency rewrite and patch release to change over to RakNet for matchmaking, NAT Negotiation, etc. Thus, I’m not disinterested in the answers.

Kris Graft
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Hi Nathan,

We're digging into it -- hopefully we can get some real answers.

Christian Nutt
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We have submitted questions to Glu, but have been told they have no interest in commenting beyond the announcement on their site. I've attempted to be persuasive but am not getting anything in response. We're attempting again.

Michael Wenk
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Game journalism is not the same as regular journalism. In many cases, they can't get a company to comment, and if they print things that are really negative they'll lose all access.

It sucks, but its the way it is. And in any event, the only really important question is:

"Why should I ever consider buying a game from GLU Mobile after all this?"

And to be honest, I doubt the company could answer that in a way that would get you to buy a thing from em.

Kris Graft
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Hi Michael. For the record, we really do not care or think about if getting to the bottom of an issue might get us in "trouble" or "blacklisted" by a company. Everyone who writes for Gamasutra strives to follow the principles of "regular journalism."

Nathan Mates
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Thanks for posting the reply, and noting the corporate relationship between GLU Mobile and Gamespy. Many articles have omitted that, but I don't think it's fair to act like there's a distance. When Bullfrog|Origin|Pandemic Studios(*) closed down, or Psygnosis closed down, did news reports just say "Bullfrog|Origin|Pandemic|Psygnosis" closed down? Or did they say "EA|Sony|Other Publisher closed studio X today." That's the cause of events and should be reported so that the parent's responsibility is called out.

* And yes, I was an employee of Pandemic Studios from August 1998 thru November 13, 2009. EA bought Pandemic in 2008, and shut down Pandemic in November 2009.

Ken Kinnison
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Double posted for some reason.
Anyway- I can understand EA's position on this... how long do you support games after release?

Ken Kinnison
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It was kinda a kick in the teeth to decide to play some SW:Battlefront (some of my friends even got the sale) and then find out GameSpy was going away. I wonder how many of these GameRanger(?) can tackle?

This actually makes me wonder about the long term for lots of 'depot sites. I don't see steam or GoG going anywhere in a hurry, but what happens when/if they do? Will there be a 'grab time where one can get all the games downloaded? (I believe the community will largely keep most games playable on later OS's.)

Eric Salmon
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Piracy to the rescue?

Nathan Mates
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Piracy won't help a single thing here. Gamespy’s business model was to NOT RUN DEDICATED GAME SERVERS. Gamespy started with Matchmaking, then expanded to some CD Key (demanded by publishers, not developers!), stats, NAT Negotiation, etc. A lot of people keep making this mistake, thinking that the “Powered by GameSpy” meant that a dedicated server — per multiplayer game session — sitting in Gamespy’s server farm was handling that game’s multiplayer. That’s really wrong.

Instead, Gamespy’s model was matchmaking. Imagine a big whiteboard somewhere that says “JoeBob’s game session is at 123.45.67.89″ and “Sue’s game session is at 98.76.54.32″ — that’s what Gamespy matchmaking did. Gamespy matchmaking was a way for servers to advertise themselves, and for prospective clients to get the IP addresses. That’s the primary server they provided. And MP within the game, specifically good or laggy play, that’s up to the internet connections of players involved, and the individual game’s network code. Not a single packet of a game instance’s networking went thru Gamespy’s servers after the initial matchmaking.

Battlezone II (which I did the MP code for) democratized as much as possible — people are allowed to run MP servers on their own boxes. We had Gamespy matchmaking (for the internet), LAN support, and JoinIP for people who wanted to direct join w/o going thru Gamespy. Guess what? When GLU Mobile killed matchmaking support for Battlezone II, did this affect anyone’s ability to run a MP server on their own box? Not in the least. Did this affect JoinIP? Not in the least. But, the average player who wanted to find a game couldn’t get that list of servers. And people were back to posting IP addresses on forums for others to join. That’s what the lack of matchmaking will do to all the games that GLU Mobile just killed support for.

Disclaimer: I’ve helped implement Gamespy on three titles: Battlezone II (the third game to use Gamespy’s 3rd party API), and Star Wars: Battlefront 1 & 2′s PC & Playstation 2 versions. Battlezone II has at least gotten a patch (my spare time, for free) to switch out Gamespy for RakNet.

Ken Kinnison
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@Eric Yeah that's not what I was implying. I still endorse buying it, but I'm not against using a hack or otherwise to make it work differently.

@Nathan TEACH ME YOUR SECRETS OH MASTER! @_@

Justin Kovac
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First of few titles highlighting GameSpy service is affecting the games, not EA shutting them down. So many hateful comments on a lot of sites blaming EA.

Thankfully some of these titles have GameRanger support for external server browser, matchmaking support.

Zach Grant
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Well when EA continually shuts down servers for online games to push users towards buying the new sequels, I have no sympathy for EA that the users misplace the blame in this one instance.

Justin Kovac
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If that was genuinely only the case, then they would have pulled their GameSpy support contract years ago for a lot of these games.

Many other games lost GameSpy support before this year due to licensing expiring. EA kept paying that license.

Zach Grant
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They only keep games up that makes them money. They don't care about their users. These are just from a 20 second search.
https://www.google.comhttp://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/166401/EA _to_close_over_a_doze
n_game_servers_including_Online_Pass_games.php
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/35833/
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/118214/EA_To_Close_Several_Onl
ine_Servers.php

Sauli Lehtinen
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I try to avoid EA games and don't care about multiplayer at all, so nothin personal, but still...

What the hell - many of these games aren't even old and many of them would have years to sell huge amount of copies. Digital distribution has given games a very very long tail and I bet this is going to affect sales of those games a lot.


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