Offline Gaming: EA Announces Latest Cull

By John Walker on January 5th, 2011 at 1:20 pm.

Are you part of the 1 per cent?

Nothing lasts forever. Entropy takes care of that. (Except for Radio 4′s Money Box Live, which exists outside the boundaries of physics and is eternally on my bloody radio.) But some things are more short-lived than you might be expecting. EA have announced the latest round of their games to have their online support removed, and there’s some recent stuff in there. FIFA Manager 10 is to go, along with FIFA 09. That’s on PC, with a raft of 09 and 10 dated games on the consoles also losing their support. Some older games are going too, including both The Lord Of The Rings: The Battle For Middle-Earth games (2004 and 2006) having already shut down on New Year’s Eve, and 2008′s The Sims Carnival going on the 17th. EA stresses that this represents only 1% of their online players, and point out that it’s a lot of work and money to keep these games going. To see the full list of games that are going, across all formats, look below.

Was anyone still playing Battle For Middle-Earth? Or last year’s FIFA Manager? With titles as recent as 14 months old, it does ask some serious questions about what you’re actually paying for.

Mar 1, 2011 Online Service Shutdown
Tiger Woods PGA TOUR® 09 for Wii

Feb 8, 2011 Online Service Shutdown
FIFA 07 for Xbox 360
FIFA 08 for PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii
FIFA 09 for PC, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii
FIFA 09 Ultimate Team for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360
FIFA Street 3 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360
EA SPORTS™ FIFA Manager 10 for PC
EA SPORTS™ Fight Night Round 3 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360
Madden 09 for PlayStation Portable (all regions), PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii
Madden 10 for PlayStation Portable (all regions), PlayStation 2 and Wii
NBA LIVE 08 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360
NBA LIVE 09 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii
NCAA® Basketball 08 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360
NCAA® Basketball 09 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360
NCAA® Football 07 for Xbox 360
NCAA® Football 08 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360
NCAA® Football 09 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360
NCAA® Football 10 for PlayStation 2
NFL Head Coach 09 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360
NHL® 08 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360
NHL® 09 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360
Tiger Woods PGA TOUR® 09 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360
UEFA EURO 2008™ for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360
2010 FIFA World Cup™ for PlayStation Portable and Wii
2010 FIFA World Cup™ Demo for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360

Jan 17, 2011 Online Service Shutdown
The Sims Carnival

Jan 11, 2011 Online Service Shutdown
The Lord of the Rings™, The Battle for Middle-earth™ II for Xbox 360
The Lord of the Rings™, The Battle for Middle-earth™ II, The Rise of the Witch-king™ for Xbox 360

Dec 31, 2010 Online Service Shutdown
The Lord of the Rings™, The Battle for Middle-earth™ for PC
The Lord of the Rings™, The Battle for Middle-earth™ II for PC
The Lord of the Rings™, The Battle for Middle-earth™ II, The Rise of the Witch-king™ for PC

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49 Comments »

  1. Premium User Badge

    abhishek says:

    No surprises here. EA does this all the time. I do wonder about one thing though… usually the terms of service mention something along the lines of “EA can retire online services at any time with 30 days notice”. Did these last few games on the list that are shutting down in January or have already shut down get that notice? Moot point anyway, there isn’t much anyone can do about it.

  2. Duffin says:

    Quite sad to see BFME being shut down, I only played it a little online but had some memorable moments in that game. Not to mention all the effort that went in to building maps by the community.

    • Wednesday says:

      Funny, I was going to say that I’d recently reinstalled it and had a bash.

      I was, however, going to say that it was miserably poor. Perhaps online was better?

    • TNG says:

      I still play(-ed) BFME 1 online sporadically (not 2, never liked the base building on it as much as on 1) . Normally, I only play the single player portions of my games but I actually enjoyed BFME, both offline and online and kept coming back to it throughout the 6 years I’ve had it (since the Christmas Eve of ’04).
      There’s nothing like a level 10 Gandalf going against a Balrog…

  3. Premium User Badge

    VelvetFistIronGlove says:

    More cultural artifacts destroyed.

  4. malkav11 says:

    And people wonder why I’m paranoid about activation server DRM.

  5. Malawi Frontier Guard says:

    http://www.simscarnival.com/games/tylerthewolf/34912/give-the-wolf-a-bath

    It is a sad day. I never even heard of Sims Carnival before.

    • Shakey-Lo says:

      Interesting. I hope the kids on there manage to find their way to Scratch.

  6. Rii says:

    “EA stresses that this represents only 1% of their online players, and point out that it’s a lot of work and money to keep these games going.”

    Because EA chooses to restrict online gamers to using its services instead of taking advantage of the strengths of the PC platform and allowing gamers to run their own servers.

    And the console conquest of PC land continues.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Yes. That is rather frustrating. At least release the source code as to allow the community to create it’s own dedicated servers.

    • Sam says:

      Are you confusing EA with Activision? BC2 has dedicated servers.

    • tacticus says:

      Really Sam?

      Where can i download the dedicated server for bc2?
      oh that’s right i can’t it’s only available if you partner up with EA. plus the matching making bullshit and server browser is probably still run by ea.
      and you were the first one to mention BC2

  7. Optimaximal says:

    At least EA give a pseudo-legitimate excuse for the LOTR games, namely that their license to produce and operate games based on the license has expired.

    As for the sports games, this isn’t really news – EA just want people to upgrade to the same game with a new number.

    Our licensing deal with Middle-earth Enterprises has expired, forcing us to shutdown the online services for The Lord of the Rings™ games. We hope you have enjoyed playing these games online and appreciate your patronage. There’s still time for one last epic tower rush!

  8. SLeigher says:

    it worries you that these are the guys who also own battlefield bad company 2, which people are playing and probably will be for a long while

  9. pipman3000 says:

    this sucks, i was just thinking about reinstalling bfme2 and then this happens.

    i guess theres always campaign and skirmish mode :/

    • The Hammer says:

      Hmm, wouldn’t Hatachi still suffice here? You’d have to find willing players externally, but at least it’s a start.

    • nodd says:

      You can use Hamachi, but for some reason, you get random disconnects while waiting in the Lobby; but if you are fast enough, you can play just fine.
      Of course, you’ll still need to find someone to play with.

    • Premium User Badge

      Samuel Bass says:

      Sad to see BFME2 go offline – still a really fun game, and possible the best development experience of my career. Since we don’t have the license anymore, very unlikely that we’ll get a chance at a third one.

  10. cliffski says:

    This is awesome.
    I love it when the big boys hand indies another reason tio buy indie on a plate. Thanks EA.

    In the meantime, Gratuitous Space Battles 2009 still has it’s online component running, and I’d be very surprised if it’s not still running in 2019.
    It costs me £95 a month. Chump change.

    Thi is just bullshit to get you to buy this years re-skins, and it’s incredibly cynical.

    • Wang Tang says:

      You surely meant pence? Or is that the sign for pence? Ah, you Englishmen with your funny money :P

    • Mike Williams says:

      No, I think he means pounds. The point is that kind of money means nothing to someone like EA. Total chump change.

    • Spooner says:

      I don’t know. Although GSB has an online component (you can just upload your scores, ships and map setups for other users, as far as I can tell; I’ve only used the offline bits), it isn’t really comparable to hosting dedicated servers. Still, based on the revenue that GSB got compared to one of the EA titles, it probably is proportionally similar in terms of amount of income spent on servers. As people have said, just a push to make people buy the latest, nearly identical, versions!

    • cliffski says:

      GSB does actually run on a dedicated server, it would be a third of that price, otherwise.

    • Premium User Badge

      frymaster says:

      thing is, EA’s system isn’t more sophisticated, just bigger – afaik none of those games being retired uses EA servers to host the game, they’re just using them as a matchmaking service. So the ratio of players to servers should be roughly equivalent to cliffski’s £95-a-month dedicated server rental, especially since EA will use co-lo, and get a bulk discount.

    • Hematite says:

      In case anyone (like me) was skim reading; Cliffski is the creator of Gratuitous Space Battles. The £95 is for everyone’s online game experience.

    • Mark says:

      “Thi is just bullshit to get you to buy this years re-skins, and it’s incredibly cynical.”

      Yup. A bit short-sighted, considering they’re no longer the big fish of gaming publishers they used to be. All someone needs to do is come up with a better sports game and a promise that they won’t do this, and they’ll start grabbing EA’s customers.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      I guess this means you’re not going to start up a new division called Positech E-Sports and charge full price for Democracy 2011 and 2012, only to shut down the servers a year later?

  11. ScubaMonster says:

    Does it actually take that much to keep the servers up and running for these games? I can’t imagine it takes that much resources.

    • Arkanatos says:

      Especially considering there’s hardly anyone online anymore according to EA…

  12. Auspex says:

    It’ll be interesting to see if they try and justify culling games that were part of “Project 10 Dollar”.

    “I know it costs a lot of money I paid for it you fucks!”

    • Optimaximal says:

      Do you even understand what Project $10 was all about..?

    • Auspex says:

      Oh, I may be confusing it with the need to have an online pass in games such as Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit. IN which case my point still stands (though I’m sure you could have figured this out rather than writing such a pompous reply :D)

  13. Premium User Badge

    stahlwerk says:

    planned obsolescence.

    • bob_d says:

      I think that’s more of a fringe benefit for them in this case.

  14. Dominic White says:

    EA could literally run every one of those master servers on a single multi-core PC, with a single person on call to run maintenance on it. It’s not like they’re actually hosting all the games played – it’s just an intermediary thing. Yes, it’s only 1% of their userbase that they’re killng off here, but the cost of keeping them around is likely closer to 0.001% of their annual profits.

    It’s shameless penny-pinching behaviour. EA, you should be ashamed.

    • Premium User Badge

      stahlwerk says:

      Yup, them admitting that these games amount to 1% of their total server cpu time is just adding insult to injury. Well, yet another case for free dedicated servers (thanks, valve).

  15. disperse says:

    Does this mean they’re no longer supporting MVP Baseball 2004?

  16. F4T C4T says:

    “and point out that it’s a lot of work and money to keep these games going.”

    Then why make them with these features in the first place? I mean a lot of these sports titles have quite in depth stats/leagues and online features don’t they? This just adds to the image of the short term, launch sale cash grabbing ethos of a lot of the big publishers to me.

    I know that a lot of those titles have been replaced by newer versions and there may only be a handful of people playing but I still don’t like it.

    • Dominic White says:

      It’s also provably false that it takes a lot of time and money to run a master server for a game. Any goofus can do it on a mediocre PC and a halfway-stable net connection. If this wasn’t the case, there’d be no indie online games, ever.

  17. Delusibeta says:

    I’ve heard that the Battle for Middle Earth’s shut downs are due to EA’s LotR license for that game expiring. Would explain why both it and the sequel got its servers nuked at the same time. Would also explain why AFAIK no effort was made to pass the servers on (see also: Command & Conquer).

    (See also the removal from sale of Colin McCrae Rally 05 and Toca Race Driver 3 from sale in the last year or so.)

    • Premium User Badge

      Samuel Bass says:

      Yep, that’s accurate. Those games were still doing relatively well, but it was out of our hands.

      A small Facebook viking funeral going on amongst the former BFME2 team right now….we’re sad.

    • MrEvilGuy says:

      That’s pretty screwed up what a shitty law.

      Also, I wonder if this will destroy the moral of any potential mods being created…

  18. Premium User Badge

    Worldbeing says:

    It’s not just Money Box Live. The Archers is pretty much eternal, too. And Woman’s Hour. And Front Blinkin’ Row.
    The entirety of Radio 4, is basically on and endless loop. The only difference is slightly less out-of-date comedies.

    (I have no opinion on the EA server cull.)

  19. Starky says:

    Oh? What is the big deal? A bunch of console sports games get their multiplayer shut down a few years in? standard and expected frankly. Even the people who play those games probably don’t give a flying fig.

    As already mentioned above, the LotRs games are getting shut-down bot because EA is some big meanie who hates you, but they are losing the IP licence, and thus have to, by law – and lets face it if they go over by 1 day the sue-happy Tolkien estate will file for eleventy-billion in damages. Those guys are worse than Disney and Games workshop when it comes to suing.

    Sop that leaves 1 sims game, and again, does anyone really care?

    Nothing to see here, move along people.

    • zipdrive says:

      Seriously, Starky?
      The fact you don’t care about these specific games makes it all alright?
      I’m sure some people are playing Sims Carnival and EA is hurting them.
      Besides, if don’t make a fuss over this, other people will just forget this when going to buy games and will get hosed later.
      The shmucks at EA should not make their games dependent on their servers so we can just play the games we’ve bought.

      Cheeky bastards!

  20. MadTinkerer says:

    Yet another reason to avoid all EA Sports franchises forever and… Battle For Middle Earth servers shutdown forever? Okay, I didn’t actually play that game, mostly because it was never on Steam, but it seems terribly dickish. For example, I can still play much more old and obscure RTSs still thanks to GOG.com, but not BFME? Tsk.

  21. DOLBYdigital says:

    It is scary to see this stuff since it makes you realize how dependent gaming is becoming around online services (servers, hosting, authenticating like steam) and how quickly those services can vanish. Its happening with all media though (books, music) so I guess its the future. In the future you won’t really own anything, just licenses to use temporary matter :)

  22. x25killa says:

    I’m still pissed off about the fact I can’t play Mercs 2 online anymore thanks to these “cuts”.