Multi-Player? What Multi-Player?

It’s at times like this that I’m glad that I don’t have many online friends.

(And now, a pause – whilst the world’s tiniest violin picks out a plaintive melody…)

Corporate Titans and All-Round Mr Moneybags Electronic Arts have announced that they’re going to switch off the online servers for a number of titles – the likes of “Burnout Revenge” on Xbox 360, “The Godfather 2” on PC/360/PS3 and “Need for Speed: Pro-Street” are all going offline as of April 13th.  I guess you can make a case for this, as the games have either seen multiple iterations since or were not as popular online as the developers and publishers might have hoped for.

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Fair enough.  What’s a bit sketchy is that some of the games – the EA brawler “MMA” and stealth action title “The Saboteur” were marketed with measures like Online Passes, which afford gamers who buy the game as new access to features prohibited to people who buy the game second-hand.  If you pick up the game when it’s used, you have to spend £10 or $10 to buy an online code to unlock content.  Developers and publishers get paid, stores still get to sell second-hand games, gamers get content, everybody goes home happy.

The upshot is that if you bought either of the aforementioned games, had put them on your pile of shame and hoped to go back to do stuff online with them later on, you had best get a move on.

I find it a little cheeky of EA to cry and moan about people buying second-hand titles, and loudly put a strategy in place to reward people for buying new and then take that functionality away – does it really cost that much for engineers to maintain and potentially police online game environments if those games are so sparsely populated online as EA‘s press notice would have us believe?

Does one, perchance, get a refund on the price of an online pass if that access is rescinded?  No?  Thought not.

Only in this hobby would consumers put up with a large part of the product being arbitrarily removed almost without notice – would Stephenie Meyer’s fans be happy if the studio decided that the special effects at the end of the latest “Twilight” flick were a tad ropey, they couldn’t justify the expense in fixing them and just hacked a bit off the movie on streaming services?

The tweens would be even more revolting than usual: Blood on the carpet – anarchy in the streets – cats and dogs, living together!

The moral of this tale is ‘be careful what you buy’ – there might not be as much game there as you thought there was…

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3 Comments

Filed under Gaming, Geekery

3 responses to “Multi-Player? What Multi-Player?

  1. Don’t think this has MASSIVE implications – I can’t imagine many people mourning the loss of Fifa 10 on the PSP, for example. Tis a little cheeky, but if there is really less than 1% of players across EA titles using these games, then surely they cannot justify ongoing back end maintenance?

    Do agree that it’s harder to justify though when they have implemented a scheme to protect the industry from second-hand sales, which includes exclusive access to online features.

    Time to start playing EA Sports Active 2, which my brother got at Game for a meagre £2, signing their impending fate,

    • I worry about EA or Ubi doing this on a more accelerated schedule – if Franchise Iteration 2013 isn’t doing the numbers right away, bury some legal clause in the EULA and ditch the MP suite with ever-faster speed.

      Imagine being a dev, working death shifts on multi-player and then having it junked by your publisher a year later.

      I’d spit feathers!

      • Ditto! I spent many an hour working grave yard shifts on SEGA Superstar Racing – would not be a happy bunny if it was removed 12 months later. Having said that, maybe they simply need to examine what titles require multiplayer. There’s nothing worse than playing a patently rushed single player campaign, especially when the multiplayer fares no better.

        Perhaps if multiplayer modes are more considered then there will be no need to shut them down – until the inevitable second, third and fourth instalments are out of course!

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