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EA Shutting Down Video Game Servers Prematurely

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the sixty-dollar-yearly-fee dept.

PC Games (Games) 341

Spacezilla writes "EA is dropping the bomb on a number of their video game servers, shutting down the online fun for many of their Xbox 360, PC and PlayStation 3 games. Not only is the inclusion of PS3 and Xbox 360 titles odd, the date the games were released is even more surprising. Yes, Madden 07 and 08 are included in the shutdown... but Madden 09 on all consoles as well?"

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I, for one (5, Funny)

PakProtector (115173) | more than 4 years ago | (#30667884)

Find this maddening.

Madden vs 2010 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30668290)

and Madden lost

2009 was last year, move with the times (1)

hanabal (717731) | more than 4 years ago | (#30667892)

well 2009 was so last year. and the games are always released a year early, madden 09 was actually released in 08. But yeah, this is pretty disgusting. one more reason to avoid EA games. forced obsolescence is the new hotness for the new decade

Re:2009 was last year, move with the times (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668758)

I guess they need more profit, and putting to spite their existing customers is certainly not in the way of their attempts to make more profit.

Then again, when you hear about EA's policies towards developers, is it surprising? [salon.com]

The first time a company screws up, is not it's last. Companies don't change their spots, and EA is no exception.

List of games (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30667900)

If you're games follow the following format and year is less than or equal to 09, chances are online play is over for you.

   

Re:List of games (3, Funny)

lxs (131946) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668074)

I'm not games, so I presume that I don't have to follow the following format? Good thing too, because I can't make sense from that directive.

Re:List of games (1)

johny42 (1087173) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668454)

If you spend some time parsing that sentence, it actually makes a good point. Games with a year in their name usually don't last much longer than until the new year's version is out.

Re:List of games (1)

WCguru42 (1268530) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668788)

Yes, but if "You are" games then the shutting down of servers should be a little more frightening.

The only people who have anything to whine about.. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30667910)

...are the idiots who bought the terrible EA games in the first place. I, for one, have no pity.

Re:The only people who have anything to whine abou (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30668126)

I, for one, have a whole bunch of schadenfreude. EA is well known for shafting its customers. If you buy their games you deserve nothing less.

Re:The only people who have anything to whine abou (5, Insightful)

mcvos (645701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668668)

If you buy their games you deserve nothing less.

No, you still deserve better. However, you should also have known better.

Do without football (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668324)

With EA holding the exclusive license for both NFL and FIFA, I guess you're just asking the world to do without football video games. Do I understand you correctly?

Re:Do without football (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30668350)

Was that a zeugma?

Re:Do without football (1)

PIBM (588930) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668458)

Totally! Just go out and play for real.

Didn't RTFA, but can't you keep playing the game alone, or with your friends in the confort of your home, just not on the internet?

What fun is it fighting random newbs on the internet anyway ?

Re:Do without football (2, Insightful)

doobie22 (970556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668572)

How about playing with your friends on the internet?

Re:Do without football (1)

Moryath (553296) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668508)

With EA holding the exclusive license for both NFL and FIFA, that means we just get one shitty "official roster" game per year rather than seven.

Imagine a world in which those shitty games then didn't make money. Why, maybe all the ridiculous amounts of money spent on giving Madden 11 more shoelace detail and graphical advertising textures on the knocked-out teeth could go instead into making some interesting and fun games.

You want to play football? Go outside. Grab a ball. Find some friends. They're probably just as out of shape as you are, couch potato, so it'll be an even match.

Re:Do without football (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30669024)

shh dont make fun of the nerds they far outnumber you here

Re:Do without football (1)

Nathrael (1251426) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668588)

I never understood why people play soccer games anyways. Why people watch soccer is already mysterious enough to me, but remotely understandable; but why the hell would you play a game which imitates something you could easily do with a bunch of friends (or even strangers) somewhere outside, for cheap? I'm not a big soccer player, but I sure know that regardless of how bad I am, I'm gonna have more fun playing *actual* soccer than some strange video game copy of it.

Where do you live? (3, Insightful)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668732)

I never understood why people play soccer games anyways. Why people watch soccer is already mysterious enough to me, but remotely understandable; but why the hell would you play a game which imitates something you could easily do with a bunch of friends (or even strangers) somewhere outside, for cheap? I'm not a big soccer player, but I sure know that regardless of how bad I am, I'm gonna have more fun playing *actual* soccer than some strange video game copy of it.

Wow, where do you live? Terrific weather year-round, eh? And the days are always long enough that after you get home from work there's still plenty of daylight left for your soccer game! And all those strangers you pick up for your soccer games are really friendly and never care when you dork out and let the other team win.

Even forgetting the fact that it sometimes isn't (for most people) more fun to play soccer in the real than to play a computer game, I'd just guess that the answer to your question is "A lot of people are quite different than you, and by the time you become an adult this shouldn't surprise you in the least".

Re:Do without football (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668694)

With EA holding the exclusive license for both NFL and FIFA, I guess you're just asking the world to do without football video games. Do I understand you correctly?

Only without officially trademark-licensed football video games. You're still free to make games that don't use the names NFL and FIFA, and don't contain players whose names are owned by those organisations.

Re:Do without football (1)

Deadguy2322 (761832) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668744)

Are you sad that you cant rip them off like you rip off other devs?

And this is why... (1, Troll)

Serilleous (1400333) | more than 4 years ago | (#30667914)

the option for customers to run dedicated servers are better. ... but seriously, who plays Madden anyway?

Re:And this is why... (2, Informative)

Bacon Bits (926911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668110)

Madden '07 sold 2 million copies the first week it was available [videogamesblogger.com] . Microsoft claimed to have logged 228 years worth of game time played on their servers in the same time frame.

Re:And this is why... (1)

MistrBlank (1183469) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668690)

He means now...

Madden 0x10 (5, Funny)

Pikoro (844299) | more than 4 years ago | (#30667926)

Perhaps they will release the next version as Madden 0x10 so it will be good until 2016?

Re:Madden 0x10 (1)

Drethon (1445051) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668646)

I'd more expect Madden 1/10 through 12/10 over the next twelve months rather than less than once a year releases...

Direct multiplayer? (1)

pete-wilko (628329) | more than 4 years ago | (#30667940)

There's one thing i've never been that clear on with multiplayer gaming on consoles (only just got one, still avid PC gamer) - if you've 'friended' someone, eg on PSN or Live, are you still able to initiate a direct multiplayer game with that person? Or is an EA server still required to act as some sort of broker?

From what I understand, I thought each of these games on consoles, that one of the players will be the 'server' - and that the role of the EA server is matchmaking etc, but clarification would be cool. That is, is it possible to initiate a multiplayer session directly with another user, without the broker (i.e. EA Server)?

Re:Direct multiplayer? (3, Insightful)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30667998)

From what I understand, I thought each of these games on consoles, that one of the players will be the 'server' - and that the role of the EA server is matchmaking etc, but clarification would be cool.

I'm pretty certain that in all cases none of the consoles involved is acting as a server. If one was than that player could have a significant advantage due to relative latency issues. Also having a console act as a server means having to deal with NAT, firewalls and other routing/network issues - the only guaranteed way for all the consoles to see the server being if the server is public (i.e. not on a console on someone's home ISP connection) or for a public server to act as a relay for those that can't connect directly.

Re:Direct multiplayer? (1)

pete-wilko (628329) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668054)

mmm - yeah, the NAT stuff does make sense - although the few broker multiplayer stuff i've played always had a 'host' player - who if they disconnected then the whole session terminated. But yeah what you're saying makes sense - probably depends on definition of 'server' - but yeah thinking about it, the EA server is probably routing the data, so in otherwords - totally screwed if your games on that list!

Re:Direct multiplayer? (1)

wel5hmn (1713194) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668080)

sorry but for most games you do have to deal with NAT thats why the xbox comes with these settings same goes for mw2 sadly and yes the host will have a advantage but it depends how good his/hers internet is can be significant to barley noticeable

Re: Direct multiplayer? (4, Insightful)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668214)

Good points, and I guess that is why other game vendors (Valve) offer dedicated servers for download. You can install those on some rented server at an ISP which has a much better internet connection than at your home. This way, the game vendor has to support only the matchmaking service which is presumably much cheaper to run - Valve still supports Half-Life 1 under Steam which is 10 years old. The obvious downside is that you pay for the game server. But I still like this model better than having my games killed after a year.

EA could do this too of course.

Re:Direct multiplayer? (5, Informative)

Verunks (1000826) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668328)

From what I understand, I thought each of these games on consoles, that one of the players will be the 'server' - and that the role of the EA server is matchmaking etc, but clarification would be cool.

I'm pretty certain that in all cases none of the consoles involved is acting as a server. If one was than that player could have a significant advantage due to relative latency issues. Also having a console act as a server means having to deal with NAT, firewalls and other routing/network issues - the only guaranteed way for all the consoles to see the server being if the server is public (i.e. not on a console on someone's home ISP connection) or for a public server to act as a relay for those that can't connect directly.

you are wrong, most console games don't have dedicated servers, and you can host even if you are behind a nat, they probably use something like udp hole punching
you probably missed the rage of pc call of duty players that now have to use the same matchmaking system(iwnet) as console players without dedicated servers

Re:Direct multiplayer? (2, Informative)

SilentChasm (998689) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668322)

For most games on Xbox Live microsoft hosts the matchmaking servers and the friends thing as well. It means that you should be able to play the game online forever until microsoft shuts down the server.

I know of one non-EA exception which only shut down part of the online component to a mech game that needed a special controller (very niche), and it was for the original xbox.

EA forces online games to use their servers for matchmaking rather than the general ones. It means that at any time EA can stop providing them and you can no longer play those games online (such as all the ones with 20XX in the name) possibly forcing you to upgrade.

The players on consoles are the servers in that they host the actual gameplay related stuff like this person shoots here, this person jumps, etc. The status info (so and so is playing Game X) on the consoles is still handled by microsoft/sony/nintendo.

The whole part of EA being able to stop online play on old games is why I don't buy from them. I could understand taking off old games that were for the original xbox for example but nothing from the last couple years.

"but please feel free to buy our '10 versions!" (4, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30667944)

That's like a mugger leaving a card thanking you for your custom and asking you to use his services again.

Re:"but please feel free to buy our '10 versions!" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30668248)

I totally agree, i feel that if the game says multiplayer when you buy it, the company is responsable for keeping the servers running even if theres only 2 people on it, thats what was advertised w/ the purchase of it. Not that i really play madden anyhow same game every year with roster changes isnt really worth 60 bucks to me and obviouslly not to other people as well. but EA making decesions like this would deffinatly make me question future purchases of their other games.

Multiplayer != online multiplayer (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668346)

if the game says multiplayer when you buy it, the company is responsable for keeping the servers running even if theres only 2 people on it

It's still multiplayer even if it's not online multiplayer. As I understand it, the Xbox 360 platform supports both the model of multiple controllers plugged into one console and the System Link model of multiple consoles on a local area network.

Re:Multiplayer != online multiplayer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30668672)

On the back of an Xbox game, you get seperate information regarding online and offline multiplayer. With an EA game there is a few lines of text basically stating they can remove any feature in the game, including online multiplayer. In the case of online multiplayer, they state they will give 30 days notice on their website.

Re:"but please feel free to buy our '10 versions!" (1)

MistrBlank (1183469) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668754)

Or... you know they could let players run their own.

This is the major complaint with Modern Warfare 2. Many people shrug that off too, maybe now they'll see why player run servers are a necessity.

I recognize this strategy (2, Funny)

DingerX (847589) | more than 4 years ago | (#30667954)

So which EA executive is a recent hire from Apple?

Also, what kind of traffic are these titles currently generating on EA's servers?

Re:I recognize this strategy (2, Insightful)

crossmr (957846) | more than 4 years ago | (#30667996)

and here is the real issue.
If it is "a lot" then they risk upsetting a lot of customers, bad pr, etc.

if it is not "a lot" then you'd have to wonder what is the rush. If its a tiny amount, amalgamate, etc.

Re:I recognize this strategy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30668550)

Madden 09 is still for sale on Amazon, so presumably there will be “some” traffic!

Re:I recognize this strategy (1)

dstar (34869) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668642)

Really....

Seems to me that as soon as the next copy of Madden 09 is sold, EA has committed fraud, then.

Re:I recognize this strategy (1)

f33dback (1458941) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668852)

Really....

Seems to me that as soon as the next copy of Madden 09 is sold, EA has committed fraud, then.

Hardly. On the backs of the games it states they may give 30 days notice before the termination of their online services.

NASCAR 09 (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30667966)

# NASCAR 09 PS3 and x360 - Europe Only

This is one of the few where I can actually understand their decision. I mean, what kind of Europeans are driving in circles playing NASCAR 09? The only people I can think of who'd care are redneck military stationed overseas.

I know this is EA and not Blizzard, (5, Interesting)

pecosdave (536896) | more than 4 years ago | (#30667982)

but my buddy who is still semi-involved in the BNET-D [wikipedia.org] legal debacle can use this type of thing in that court case.

I for one think the whole company run server idea is a good one, but I think they should release code for every game as well for this very reason. Custom servers were half the fun of old Unreal Tournament games, and I know a lot of people who are into custom Enemy Territory servers.

Remember, the reason BNET-D started to begin with is Bizzards servers sucked back in the day, as far as I'm concerned this sort of bull shit justifies that sort of thing.

Re:I know this is EA and not Blizzard, (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30668188)

BNET-D started because several individuals had banned CD-Keys or wished to play with pirated versions of Blizzards games. While BNET-D had many potential uses most of them were to circumvent the law.

Re:I know this is EA and not Blizzard, (2, Insightful)

pecosdave (536896) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668270)

Considering I know insiders, and I remember the time period BNET-D came out I will say the battle.net servers absolutely sucked at that time. StarCraft lagged and crashed out all the time, and when Diablo 2 came out both became worse (I didn't do much Diablo 1 online, only LAN)

Back then, I was a Novell guy anyways, and we already had IPX running everywhere I went, so LAN wasn't bad, but that didn't take care of things when you didn't have your buddies over. BNET-D was a fix to a problem that existed.

Nobody had a problem playing pirated version anyways, there was a universal key that was all 1's and 0's that all of us had memorized back then, when we played on the LAN we used that key anyways that way we could multiple "severs" and if we wanted to swap which one we played on we didn't have to reinstall the spawn.

Spawns were a good idea BTW - you could argue the GBA, DS and PSP picked up on this idea when the PC world abandoned it.

Blizzard didn't cooperate (4, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668360)

BNET-D started because several individuals had banned CD-Keys or wished to play with pirated versions of Blizzards games.

As I understand it, the bnetd developers contacted Blizzard to ask how to verify CD keys, and when Blizzard refused to cooperate, the bnetd developers continued without the feature.

Re:I know this is EA and not Blizzard, (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#30669018)

Have you played Diablo II recently? There's so much in-game spam that you sometimes can't even see what you're doing.

The way those spambots act is even worst: they enter the game, spew about 5-10 lines of text then magically leave the game as a timeout instead of a regular "player X has left the game".

I know private games with passwords are an easy work-around, but it does show that Blizzard cares enough about its old games to keep battle.net running for them but not enough to get the spammers out (which would be easy to do, i.e. permanent black lists/muted lists for players, banning accounts since its always the same accounts spamming, muting people who enter games and write something and leave the game in under 30 seconds, etc).

If that's how Blizzard treats Diablo II players, I don't see why I should buy Diablo III. Same goes for StarCraft.

Yep, dedicated servers are a great solution (5, Insightful)

trawg (308495) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668192)

Our company has provided commercial game server management services for almost 10 years for a large ISP client in Australia. We have watched games rise and fall over this entire time. And the games with dedicated server software - games like Quake, which came out in 1996 - are still just as playable today as they were back then (often more so thanks to enhanced community-created features).

There are a few exceptions to that - AvP2 ran into problems recently when they shut down the master server/s. But a community project has worked around this.

We recently published a guide - the Mammoth Dedicated Server Guide [mammothmedia.com.au] - for game developers and publishers trying to explain to them why they should release dedicated server software (inspired in no small part by Modern Warfare 2's lack of dedicated server). We're hoping to make more people aware of it, and more importantly, more gamers aware of the issues surrounding games without dedicated servers (such as this story!!!!), so that when they're choosing what games to spend money on, they can show more discrimination.

Re:I know this is EA and not Blizzard, (5, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668204)

Pee on code, we don't want the code, we want the specs. Give us the specifications of how the client and server communicate and we'll do the rest... when it's worth it. Besides, the code is theirs, but it's reasonable for the specs to be ours (perhaps charging a reasonable cost for distribution.)

What Happened? (5, Informative)

mrpacmanjel (38218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668026)

I remember back in the early eighties EA used to release some great games.

Anyone remember Skyfox, Pinball Construction Set, The Bard's Tale series and Racing Destruction Set?

All they seem to do now is publish endless sports titles and I imagine the licensing fees must be huge.

Maybe it is a "Good Thing" they are shutting down the services for these titles - one less reason to buy them.

The decision seems to be mainly the Sports Division of EA hopefully this decision won't start affecting other games genres.

Games affected:

February 2, 2010 Online Service Shutdown

        * UEFA Champions League 07 PC and x360
        * Facebreaker x360 and PS3
        * Fantasy Football 09 x360 and PS3
        * FIFA 07 PSP, PS2, PC
        * Fight Night Round 3 PS2
        * Madden 08 Wii
        * Madden 08 PC
        * Madden 09 Xbox1
        * Madden 09 Wii and PSP
        * March Madness 07 x360
        * NBA 07 PSP, x360
        * NBA 08 PS2, PSP, Wii
        * NBA 09 Wii - Europe only
        * NBA Street (2007) PS3 and x360
        * NCAA Football 08 PS2
        * NCAA Football 09 PS2
        * NASCAR 08 PS2
        * NASCAR 09 PS2
        * NASCAR 09 PS3 and x360 - Europe Only
        * NFL Tour PS3 and x360
        * NHL 07 PSP and x360
        * NHL 08 PC
        * Tiger Woods 07 PC
        * Madden 09 x360 and PS3
        * Madden 07 Xbox 360

Re:What Happened? (1)

sw33tjimmy (662009) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668100)

they were still going strong into the 90's too. i think it was need for speed 3 that came with my voodoo3... the first (and last imo) time police chases felt right in a racing game.

So the rule is (2, Insightful)

EdgeyEdgey (1172665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668198)

Never by anything from EA that has a date in the title

Or called Facebreaker

Re:So the rule is (2, Interesting)

b1t r0t (216468) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668766)

The other rule is: that's the expiration date.

Re:What Happened? (1)

adam525 (813427) | more than 4 years ago | (#30669002)

Racing destruction set was great! Building your own tracks with lots of jumps and "Lunar" gravity.

That'll teach you (1)

jayhawk88 (160512) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668052)

...to only buy versions of their games every few years, despite the fact that EA traditionally only makes cosmetic and superficial changes to yearly release games, yet of course charges full price for them. When you think about it, it's damn near like stealing.

At least we know the good people at EA are continuing to find innovative and new ways to be evil.

Gamestop (4, Informative)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668088)

Suddenly, a lot of used games just lost some value.

Re:Gamestop (1)

TimeElf1 (781120) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668172)

Have you ever been to a local used game shop? All they ever have is the sports games they get so much of the sports games I'm rather surprised they don't hold monthly skeet shooting contests just to get rid of all the excess.

Re:Gamestop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30668176)

EA execs must be circle-jerking right now. They hindered used games sales and forced customers to buy the newest update, all in one fell swoop. I find it hilarious, though. EA customers have to be the dumbest of the dumb.

Box (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30668156)

The back of the box clearly states(in small print) that the online service is only provided for 1 year from release date. The fact that they've lasted this long is just a bonus. I could understand if people were bitching and there was no warning, but there is.

Re:Box (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668230)

People very rarely read the small print, or a lot of products currently on the market would not sell at all.

Hopefully being screwed over a few times will teach people to actually read the small print!

I bought quake (the original) many years ago, i have always been able to play it online, the sourcecode to the game was released a few years ago so i am able to play modernised versions (so i'm not even restricted to dosbox as with many older games).

Re:Box (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668308)

So true. If only people could get stung by DRM more as well, but alas they don't.

As for the dropping of Madden '09, well, EA do have Madden '10 out, so they've got to get people buying it somehow!

Re:Box (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30668860)

Of course, it may be clearly stated on the box. However, it's a matter of trusting a company or not.
Now, people who buy EA games will expect that their purchase will be useless after one or two years.

On the other hand,
Blizzard released its last patch for Diablo 2 eight years after release, and they have no sign of shutting multiplayer down.
Blizzard released its last patch for Starcraft eleven years after release, and they have no sign of shutting multiplayer down.
Blizzard released its last patch for Warcraft 3 six years after release (last month, actually), and they have no sign of shutting multiplayer down.

(AFAIK, the 1.24 patch for Warcraft 3, which was released last year, was a change of the API of its scripting engine to block security holes caused by malicious maps, not just small tweaks. Who else does that for six-year-old games?)

and, how long do you expect Blizzard will support Starcraft 2 or Diablo 3, and hence, will your purchase be useful?

Re:Box (1)

Blue Stone (582566) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668914)

It sounds like EA is trying to reposition their brand. Perhaps they should go the whole way and rebrand entirely.

EA (Electronic Arts) becomes BO (Built-in Obsolescence).

From 'EA Sports, it's in the game' to 'BO Sports, the contents of this box stink'.

No surprise there (4, Insightful)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668166)

If I may defend EA on one point, they do actually make it very clear they will shut down the service anytime they feel like it. In fact I think it's on the back of the game boxes as well. This isn't a surprise. They did this with their PC versions for some time.

This why people shouldn't buy their games. There is no need for EA to be the middle man in online gaming but they do it purely to have control. They don't need you playing Madden 08 year after year. They need you to buy every version. Quite frankly I'm surprised they don't shut the servers down for the previous version the day the new version is released. It probably will get to that point.

Re:No surprise there (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30668212)

Take it one step further, let's actively fuck with them. Encourage piracy, hand out EA games for free. Insist everyone with pirated EA games that go online, leave em online as much as possible eating up bw, even if it's small. Gamers are as a bad as druggies- boycott is just not an option. This is the next best thing.

Re:No surprise there (1)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668546)

Consumers need to demand the ability to run private game servers. Then boycott. If your going to boycott something you should tell they company why you are doing so, I would encourage everyone who is pissed of about this to contact EA prior to the boycott.

They will listen when they see the market drop. Just because they ignore complaint emails now doesn't mean they will continue to do so when they notice their falling profit line..

Some thoughts (-1, Troll)

igotmybfg (525391) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668190)

Remember that the goal of any company including EA is not to make games, but to make money. They calculate they'll make more money by forcing people off the old games (at least the online parts) with the hope that some or most of those people will then upgrade to the newest version of the franchise:

All of us at EA would like to thank you for your valued participation in our online gaming community and hope that your enthusiasm for these games extends to our current lineup and beyond.

Other posters have expressed the hope that they'll release source code to the old games so that community-run versions of the servers can be developed. I submit that EA has a greater monetary incentive to keep the source closed - they can save a ton of money on development costs by slapping a new logo on last year's game, changing the version string, updating the player names, and releasing it again next year.

(soapbox alert) So why even play these games at all? What do you get after an hour of playing video games, besides a headache and high blood pressure? Why not go play an instrument, or play sports for real, or do something to improve yourself or the rest of the human race?

Re:Some thoughts (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668368)

(soapbox alert) So why even play these games at all? What do you get after an hour of playing video games, besides a headache and high blood pressure?

Troll.

Why not go play an instrument, or play sports for real, or do something to improve yourself or the rest of the human race?

I have a game console and a mountain bike. My friend the football coach plays Madden. Grow up already.

Re:Some thoughts (4, Interesting)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668470)

Its a short sited probably ultimately self defeating goal. I was listening to PBS business report just last night and they were interviewing some economics professors who were discussing how the move to always maximize share holder value has not actually lead to better share holder returns over the longer time period of the past two decades.

They also pointed out one company P&G pretty well stayed on the build new business and protect the customers perception of value, noting that it outperformed the market over those two decades. Now obviously you'd need to go through alot more data to reach sound conclusions.

I do think there is enough evidence out there that a longer term view eventually yeilds better returns. We should try and break the 18mo CEO cycle.

Re:Some thoughts (2, Insightful)

rwv (1636355) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668888)

We should try and break the 18mo CEO cycle.

A good way to start would be to NOT give $100 Million to every failed CEO as you're kicking his ass out the door.

Why the need to shut down anything (5, Interesting)

DrXym (126579) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668206)

Surely it is not beyond the resources of EA to buy a server farm and run virtualized instances of game servers on demand. If a game becomes less popular, the VMs timeout and shutdown. If it's very popular more instances get spawned. I don't see any reason that they have to physically decommission or repurpose anything in this day & age.

Re:Why the need to shut down anything (3, Insightful)

CFBMoo1 (157453) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668236)

"I don't see any reason that they have to physically decommission or repurpose anything in this day & age."

Money.

Re:Why the need to shut down anything (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668398)

Money.

From an administrative & hardware standpoint I'd say you save money by virtualizing. No need to have dedicated machines any more since you can run a fixed amount of hardware and spawn instances on demand.

From a marketing perspective they may make more money by shutting down servers but it could easily be counterproductive too. If people become aware that they get maybe 12-18 months tops and their their game is deliberately crippled they might avoid EA titles.

Re:Why the need to shut down anything (2, Insightful)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668810)

"Money" as in "people shell out $60 for the 2010 version".

And they will. Make no mistake. Any backlash on this will be minimal. EA has been selling the annual series of these games for years now, and only guarantee server access for one year, after which you either multiplay locally, set up your own server somewhere, or shell out the bucks for the next version. They're just a couple of years behind in their server shutdown schedule. EA is also the only one licensed to do games with real names and logos in them, and people want their unreality to be real. So if EA players want to shove a bunch of pixels that vaguely resemble their favorite players and compete with total strangers doing so, they'll pony up $60.

There will be angst (shock) , and gnashing of teeth (anger), and the threat of a lawsuit or something (denial), followed by maybe some crying (acceptance), followed by the shuffling sound of millions of credit cards being pulled out of millions of wallets. This is the cycle of annual upgrade grief.

I never played football games, but I was into first person shooters for a while (Unreal, Call of Duty, etc). I rarely played online, we had LAN parties. But it got too expensive keeping up with the latest games, even just for 4 game lines ($60/year/game for 4 games was costing me $20 a month just to buy games), so I stopped.

EA would do well to charge a monthly fee for server access and guarantee access to 3-4 releases back. But they apparently do better just selling an annual version with one year (from release date) of access and baking the server costs into the retail price of the game.

Now (2, Insightful)

AlpineR (32307) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668882)

Money. Now.

Organizations commonly become short-sighted. They become so worried about increasing profits this quarter that they really stop caring about the distant future.

The Daily Show interviewed a legislator in some state with budget shortfalls. Her plan was to sell the government buildings to a private company and then lease them back for twenty years. That would let them fill a $20 million gap in the year that the buildings were sold. When asked how the state would ever pay the rent in following years without a $20 million windfall, her response was: "We have to get through this year first. I'm just trying to balance the budget this year."

Killing all those servers will immediately lower administration and bandwidth costs. And it may very well give a kick to sales of the current versions. When the boss sees lower costs and higher sales he'll be happy. When sales slump again in six months they can blame piracy.

Luckily for us (2, Interesting)

santax (1541065) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668232)

We can set up dedicated servers for the games we love. Oh wait... Hard to believe that you pay for 60 euro's for a game and 1 or 2 years later you can't play it anymore. Now what should I do. Buy the new Madden, or buy a modchip...

And another reason why you don't buy EA... (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668244)

...in the first place.

They do not care at all if you have fun, or got anything from it.
They only care, if you give them the money. The only reason they are not selling empty boxes, is because they try to steer clear of getting a class action lawsuit for fraud. But they try to get as close as possible to that magic line, as long as it means more money.

And what do you expect from a company that basically works like a ancient galley, or a gulag... powered by mindless slaves, and controlled by someone who would sell his own grandmother for peanuts, or steal a lollipop from a child.

They work on the same basis, that makes the two party system work: Idiots, who don’t learn from being fucked over.
Hint: If you bought a couple of EA games, that includes you. But at least you got a chance. ^^

Re:And another reason why you don't buy EA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30668362)

When will you learn, not to put commas all over the place? It makes reading your posts, very irritating. Which is, a pity because sometimes the points you make, are good.

Re:And another reason why you don't buy EA... (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668624)

Hint: If you bought a couple of multiplayer EA games, that includes you. But at least you got a chance. ^^

TFTFY

Money, Money, and Money. (5, Insightful)

NoPantsJim (1149003) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668252)

"Yes, Madden 07 and 08 are included in the shutdown... but Madden 09 on all consoles as well"

The economy blows, so to the average guy, is it really worth $50 to upgrade to 10 or is 09 good enough as it is?

It just boils down to money. Plain and simple. Not even the cost of running the servers, but forcing everyone that thought Madden 09 was just fine for their needs to go out and pickup Madden 10.

Re:Money, Money, and Money. (5, Insightful)

_PimpDaddy7_ (415866) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668590)

I was going to mod you and the previous poster higher but I HAD to respond.

This PISSES me off. I've owned every Madden since 06 on the Xbox360 and a few on the GameCube.

Year after year the manuals have been reduced to 4 page leaflets. My 04 Madden on the Gamecube came with a superb manual. It was excellent and showed they somewhat cared about making a polished game.

I can certainly understand the need to close say a 06 server, even an 07 and 08. But to close the 09? That's ridiculous.

You are correct it's all about money. I don't know the numbers but I guarentee Madden 10 sold less than 09. 09 was good, 10 less so. I despise EA and I will not buy another sports game from them. Sadly they have bought up other companies whose games I really enjoy. It just SICKENS me what they have done to this industry! The fact that there are no other football alternatives is pretty gross.

This is a direct message to EA I will never buy another sports game from you.

Re:Money, Money, and Money. (1)

MistrBlank (1183469) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668854)

I remember getting a madden (I think 98) for Playstation and they crammed a THICK manual into a CD jewel case along with a poster with all of the plays. That used to be standard. Now it's a pathetic controller diagram (if that) and that's it.

However, I do have to disagree that the reason manuals (across the board on most games) have become thinner is that in game training is taking it's place. With it being easier to produce interactive training, why bother making print media. With the first madden that came out for Wii I remember being very thankful for the in game trainer because it would show you things that would be otherwise complicated to describe or show in print.

Re:Money, Money, and Money. (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668678)

I'm not a big sports game player, but if a company shut down a major feature of the previous year's version that I bought so they could push this year's new version on me, I'd seriously reconsider ever buying from them again. So you pay them $50 for Madden 10 and then what? You get 12 months or so of play before they shut that down to push Madden 11? I can't see this working to increase sales that much. Instead, I think it will tarnish EA's reputation which will lead to reduced sales in the long run.

Intellectual property rights (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30668326)

If it is -so- old and useless that they will deprive the users of the functionality they PURCHASED, how is it they can still retain IP rights which prevent people from standing up their own Madden 07 and 08 servers? This needs to go to court. They cannot have it both ways. "It's too valueable for us to allow the customers who purchased the game, the rights to the IP, but it is so worthless that we aren't going to provide the purchased functionality." Nice arguement.

Re:Intellectual property rights (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668634)

The argument will be that while 07 & 08 are no longer worth supporting, they contain code and other technologies used in 10, and so being forced to release that code will be detrimental to them.

I'm not saying I agree, in fact I agree with you in spirit at least - anything that is discontinued and no longer available, I think, really should pass into the public domain. I just don't think it's as clear-cut in this case as you'd like it to be.

Re:Intellectual property rights (1)

gorzek (647352) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668644)

This is one of the "benefits" of having software licensed instead of owned. You didn't buy a game, you bought a license to play it, and EA can modify that license at any time. As others have noted, the box says they'll provide online play for a year, and guarantee nothing past that. I don't think the problem is with the concept of licensing, but that the publisher can insert pretty much any terms they want. There has to be some common sense here. The publisher wants to be protected from piracy, fine. But the customer should be protected from having the value of what they purchased diminished at the whims of the publisher, too. I'm not sure what a good legal framework would be, though. You could say any game designed to play exclusively online (such as WoW) would not have to provide the ability to run private servers, but any game that has both online and offline functionality (Madden, et al) would be required to offer the software to run a private server. The downside to this is that EA would just require an Internet connection for any game you could play online, whether you intend to do so or not. Then again, I guess you could go all the way and not have any exceptions at all. If you ever intend to shut down your online service, you have to provide the tools to set up private servers--period. I'm sure this would be fought tooth and nail, but if the online experience is a major selling point, who is the game publisher to forcibly obsolete your software?

Re:Intellectual property rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30668924)

Alternatively, just use consumer law to force them to *prominently* advertise the time limits (and stick to them as a minimum). A big warning in red on the front of the game saying 'Online play will not be possible after 1 year' or whatvever is appropriate should do rather than some obscure small print. They might decide instead to set a more reasonable limit instead then.

Odd? (2, Interesting)

CodingHero (1545185) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668466)

"Not only is the inclusion of PS3 and Xbox 360 titles odd . . ." Why is it odd to include PS3 and Xbox 360 and not-so-odd to shut down servers for PC gamers?

Watch out, MW2 lovers... (5, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668542)

Some weeks ago, there were some heated discussions here and elsewhere about COD4 Modern Warfare 2 and the decision NOT to include the capability to create dedicated servers for online play. There was a great deal of anger from some COD4 fans who had found that the LAN play was the most exciting part of the COD4 experience.

The reaction from the MW2 fanboy community was "What could possibly go wrong?".

Well, here's your answer.

Re:Watch out, MW2 lovers... (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668618)

Absolutely. It use to be great that I could load up games that were over 5 years old, like Medal of Honor, and still find people playing servers. I hate the thought of not being able to do that in the future. Sure, it might cost a few bucks to put together a dedicated server but I'd still be willing to play Half Life 1 deathmatch. Good times, good times.

Re:Watch out, MW2 lovers... (1)

jfinke (68409) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668720)

Not to defend IW or anything, because I think that they killed a lot of aspects of the game. But, I believe that in this case, the individuals are hosting the game vs. IW hosting it. Now, to what degree Steam / IW are involved in matchmaking I don't know.

Now, I have been surprised that the setup works at all. But, it does work, for now. But man, if something goes wrong, everyone in your party has to leave, you have to send invites out, etc.... It would have been much simpler to just included dedicated servers. I will be surprised if the next version from IW comes out for the PC at all. The consolization of the game reminds me of the shenanigans that EPIC pulled with UT3.

Re:Watch out, MW2 lovers... (1)

MrMickS (568778) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668950)

This would be the case if the publishers of COD4 had the same attitude as EA. EA ruthlessly release yearly versions of games and drop the previous years. In the store at the weekend I noticed that I could still buy a new COD4 for the Xbox 360. There is no incentive to drop support for COD4 as they can still make money from downloadable maps on Xbox live. Likewise the same will be true for MW2.

EA's entire sports business model is based on the fact that people will spend money to buy essentially the same game with roster changes year after year. They've probably found that, with the recession, people have held off doing this for a couple of years and its hit their bottom line. Hence shutting down the servers. If you want to play online, buy the new version.

Killing the second hand market (5, Insightful)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668568)

This is probably just a ploy to kill off the second hand and discounted games market. Only people who pay full price for the latest update get to play online.

This is why... (1)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668600)

...the whole concept of 'renting' software (as the Forces of Evil would describe it) that needs validation from a company server, is bullshit.

You sell me a game at $50-$60 price point, I want to own it forever, and have the media to install it when I want without requiring some crappy check-in procedure. You claim I'm only 'renting' it? Then 'rent' it to me at a rental price-point, like $10.

Don't lost sight of what this is really about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30668640)

Game publishers have a deep seated hatred of the reseller market for games. By Cancelling service, not only does EA stand to cut some costs, but they also get to cripple the aftermarket sales of older games, forcing people to but new versions from EA instead.

some needs to make there own PC NFL and NHL game a (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30668838)

some needs to make there own PC NFL and NHL game and let the courts take up the lock in to ea games.

There are not makeing a pc game so there may be a way under the law to have a pc NFL game.

Some of those games are still onsale??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30668908)

Closing servers 12-24 months after the end of sale of a product seems about reasonable. The problem is that those games are still on sale! While they are discounted, there no way for the customer to know that it is purchasing less than advertised.
  EA should have:
- Put them end-of-sales and remove them from primary sale market.
- Force the retailer that mark them as being sold without/with limited online gaming capability.

This certainly misleading from EA part and I smell a class action suit...

Timing (1)

rook166 (1459561) | more than 4 years ago | (#30669020)

I think the timing of this announcement is really the icing on the cake - just long enough after the holidays for everyone to have opened their gifts and can't return them anymore. I wonder how many people would have returned Madden 10 back to stores knowing that the online play was likely only to last until 04/2011. And how many people who were feeling the economic crunch got used copies of Madden 09?
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