Over the past month Glu, the new owners of Gamespy since buying the service from IGN in August, have begun closing down servers for older games like Neverwinter Nights, Sniper Elite, and SWAT 4.
You’re likely familiar with Gamespy from earlier in this decade when its middleware server technology appeared in a widespread selection of PC games. It offered developers a cheap way to offer multiplayer with their games, without needing to spend thousands developing their own code for things likematchmaking software, dedicated servers, and friend lists.
Back then it was owned by IGN, though this August it was bought from by Glu for $2.7 million. Previously a mobile games publisher, Glu was expanding out into a lucrative field; games using Gamespy technology pay a license fee for the middleware code and then also regular payments for server maintenance.
In the last month Glu have begun closing down servers.
One game that’s had its multiplayer support ceased is Sniper Elite. Its developer,Rebellion, issued a statement on its forums saying:”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.
“For the past seven years we have run these servers at a cost to ourselves so that fans of Sniper Elite could continue to play online for free.
“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.
“While we are not happy about the situation, as an independent developer we simply do not have the resources to pay the massive costs of new servers along with redeveloping a seven-year-old game.”
Other games to have been affected, according to OldTimeRadio on Slashdot, includeNeverwinter Nights 1&2, Microsoft Flight Simulator X,Swat 4,Sniper Elite,Hidden and Dangerous 2,andStar Wars: Battlefront. Though even more are referred to on the Gamespy Facebook page –Wings of War, Battlestations: Midway,Lord of the Rings: War of the Ring, among them.
Writing on their Facebook page, Gamespy responded to questions about the dropped support for Sniper Elite saying”Neither Namco or Rebellion want to continue support for the game – I’d check with them on why they don’t.”
And a similar message concerning Star Wars: Battlefront: “Lucas Arts no longer supports this title and as we’re a service provider to them we have disabled the game.”
We’ve reached out to Glu and Gamespy for comment. And I’m mailing the developers of the games that have been shut down to try and find out what’s been going on.