It seems like it’s the year for unpleasant multiplayer and online services getting shut down. The universally loathed GFWL is winding down, and now GameSpy Technologies will have the life drained out of it come May 31st.
It’s not the “bring out the champagne” moment the announcement of GFWL’s demise was, but I’m certainly not going to miss seeing “Powered by GameSpy” flash before my eyes.
It’ll be a little odd, though. I mean it’s antiquated now, but it’s been part of online gaming in one way or another since 1997, and I can’t help but think of it whenever I remember spending ungodly amounts of time playing Unreal Tournament.
While many classic games will be affected, there are more modern titles with online components Powered by GameSpy than you probably realise. Gearbox’s Borderlands, though available on Steam and using Steamworks, has a version that utilises GameSpy, and Bohemia Interactive’s Arma series still employs it, including Arma III.
Epic is phasing GameSpy out of the Unreal series, Polygon reports, and Bohemia Interactive is looking for solutions. “This is going to affect multiplayer in our games that use Gamespy for matchmaking, cd keys authentification [sic] and NAT traversal from Arma: Resistance to Arma 3. We are planning to introduce an alternative solution using Steam to Arma 2: Operation Arrowhead and Arma 3 users,” said BI’s Marek Spanel.
Just as has been the case with GFWL shutting down, it’s down to the publishers and developers of each individual game to come up with a solution, whether that involves migrating to Steam or creating a homegrown system.
An alternative might be Gameranger. The online service was originally just for Mac, but moved into the PC sphere in 2008. It’s got a growing library, and supports a substantial number of older games, some of which stopped getting official support or had their servers shut down. Battlefield 1942 (which was Powered by Gamespy) is on Gameranger, as is the classic Delta Force and one of my all-time favourite moddable, multiplayer RPGs, Neverwinter Nights is up there too.