Grim R(EA)per: The Sims 2 Online Services Ending

By Craig Pearson on January 8th, 2013 at 6:00 pm.

so long, son
The Sims 2 held on longer than most, but as with all games from EA the moment they’re launched they’re on the road to having all support sliced off. In this case, EA are giving the game that once ruled every PC sales chart a viking burial, without the viking part. They’re cutting off the online services of The Sims 2 and TheSims2.com on January 14th, which is my birthday. Way to ruin the global celebrations, EA!

Looking down the list of games that EA have recently set on the path to doom, most are only about two years old.

January 14, 2013 — Online Services Shutdown

The Sims 2 for PC/MAC and TheSims2.com

January 11, 2013 — Online Services Shutdown

FIFA Soccer 11 for PC, PS3, Wii & Xbox 360
FIFA Soccer 11 Ultimate Team for PS3 & Xbox 360
Madden NFL 11 for PS3, Wii & Xbox 360
Madden NFL 11 Ultimate Team for PS3 & Xbox 360
NBA JAM for PS3 & Xbox 360
NBA LIVE 10 for PS3 & Xbox 360
NCAA Football 11 for PS3 & Xbox 360
NHL 11 for PS3 & Xbox 360
NHL 11 Ultimate Team for PS3 & Xbox 360

January 3, 2013 — Online Services Shutdown

FIFA Manager 11 for PC

That’s not a stellar list by any definition, but there’s a principle to consider: a huge chunk of functionality has just been wiped out, and EA will support games for two years before contemplating if they’re obsolete. Does that go for games that are only online? What happens to the people playing the newest SimCity if EA decides there aren’t enough players for them to bother? What amount of player investment is needed for a game to carry on?

It seems contrary to the spirit of the PC as a legacy platform. Microsoft, for every hideous thing they’ve done to the PC, still show a token level of support for their old games. If you’re not being as good as Microsoft, EA, you need to worry.

Remember when you used to be fun?

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62 Comments »

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  1. Konil says:

    My b-day is also on Jan 14th!

    Well, just that. Sorry.

    Bummer about EA and all.

  2. PancreaticDefect says:

    Thats my Birthday too. Sadly it’s also Dave Grohl’s…..

    • Xerian says:

      Yes, a brilliant musical mastermind is a sad person to share your birthday with.
      Wat.

      • PancreaticDefect says:

        I prefer frontmen who can actually sing. He should have stuck to drums and let someone with a good voice do the singing.

      • Ovno says:

        Sorry but Dave Grohl is not a brilliant musical mastermind, he’s quite good and all, but give it 100 years and he like almost all musicians of any age will not be massively well regarded.

        I mean has he changed music forever? Has he spawned a new genre? Is he even well regarded outside of his group of fans? No….

        Now, Beethoven was a brilliant musical mastermind, Bach was a brilliant musical mastermind, hell even Richard D James is a brilliant musical mastermind (and has been recognised as such by the classical music community), but Dave Grohl, he’s just the Drummer from Nivanha (and Guitarist, Front man etc from Foo Fighters)

        • karmafarm says:

          He’s still definitively one of the best rock drummers of the last 30 years. That he can also write, front, sing (in his own way, but very much more tunefully than his sadly deceased erstwhile bandmate) and play pretty decent guitar and do it all at the top of his game in front of anything up to 150,000 fans is frankly sickeningly impressive, even if not to your personal taste.

          • Createx says:

            Much shorter and poignant than what I said, and I obviously agree :)

        • Createx says:

          Dave Grohl is probably someone who will be remembered, because he did change music substantially.
          First, he made Grunge popular (there was Nirvana before Grohl, but they weren’t popular). Then, he founded one of the most respected and influential modern rock bands, switching to frontman this time.
          In between, he collaborated with a million bands, often giving them the needed push to popularity again.
          Best Example: Queens of the Stone Age. Best-known album? Songs for the Deaf. Guess who’s drumming? (Even though Mark Lanegan totally obviously made the album the big hit it was, I mean, everybody knows Mark Lanegan, right? RIGHT?)
          In addition, he is pretty good playing most instruments. He’s most famous for his drumming, rightly so, but he is a very decent guitar player and at lest imho a good singer and songwriter as well as lyricist as well.
          And yeah, Josh Homme can in fact thing, though I question his musical sanity these days.

          • FluidLogic says:

            Huh? Nirvana not popular? At the risk of revealing my old-ness, I was around and buying albums when Nirvana was new on the scene. Believe me, they made Grunge popular with the help of lots of other Seattle and DC bands.

            I don’t mean to take anything away from Dave; he’s a great drummer and a talented musician. But he didn’t popularize the grunge movement on his own. And if you want to compare popularity, Nirvana have 3 albums in the RIAA charts (Nevermind is 38th) of the top 300 albums by sales; Foo Fighters have none. Nirvana’s worldwide sales top 30 million and Foo Fighters are under 10 million. The numbers are as of 2009, but I don’t think they’ve changed much in the interim.

            Foo Fighters are a fine band and Dave Grohl is a good musician, but they’re not the powerhouse of record sales that Nirvana was.

          • lijenstina says:

            Josh Homme’s best band was Kyuss.

            Anyway i hate when people use record sales as a metric. Popularity doesn’t mean a diddly squat. Some popular things are good some are not. Not to mention that anything that verges on being called art or culture is subjective so even the concept of “good” is not a relevant metric for anyone whom doesn’t share a similar taste in music.

          • FluidLogic says:

            @lijenstina:
            I didn’t quote album sales to draw a conclusion on whether or not Nirvana or Foo Fighters were “good” bands. In fact I didn’t even mention the word other than to say that Dave Grohl is talented.

            And for the record, I generally don’t care a lick about album sales. They’re not a good measure of talent (but that’s subjective anyway, eh?). They are, however, a perfect measure of popularity. Which is precisely what I was responding too. Creatix made a statement about Nirvana not being popular, which is patently ridiculous. I wasn’t attempting to say anything else. I’m not a huge Nirvana fan anyway, but I remember how obsessed people were when they were around.

            So I’m not sure where you got the idea that I was saying that because Nirvana sold lots of albums; it means they’re good. I didn’t say that at all. Didn’t even infer it.

            As an example, COD games sell really well. They’re popular. That says nothing about whether they’re good or not. But selling millions of copies of said game definitely means they’re popular.

      • Berzee says:

        I think we’re losing focus here a little bit. The main thing to keep in mind is that unless you have plans to throw a combinatory party with someone, knowing that you both have the same birthday is approximately as impactful as a 15-cent coupon on bar soap, limit 2 per customer.

    • Gerbick says:

      It’s my daughter’s and sister’s birthday too. Somewhat related to the content of the post, my daughter has asked to get Sims 3. Coincidence? EA must be tapping her brain-thinks.

      • briktal says:

        Maybe she knew it was on sale twice as part of the Steam holiday sale.

    • Terragot says:

      Dave Grohl is my favourite video game

  3. mrmalodor says:

    I’m already excited for when Sim City goes offline. I’ll be laughing at all those idiots who paid 80$ for a glorified Facebook game only to have it taken away from them after 3-4 years.

    • rocketman71 says:

      Make that 1.5 years, seeing what they are shutting down here.

      • tmargul says:

        2.5 years, sports games are named by the year after they come out, so all those 2011 titles came out mid 2010.

        Still completely unacceptable, of course.

        • MrLebanon says:

          I’ll be playing Pirate (Sim) City by then!

          • mrmalodor says:

            Unfortunately that may not be so simple. The latest info indicates that the infrastructure may be more similar to D3’s than we thought. There may be no local saving at all. This means that we may not see a fully working server emulator for a few years after release :(

    • HadToLogin says:

      Or maybe Sim City will try to compete with Mercenaries 2, which (at least on PC) was cut offline in less then half a year?

      • A Pair of Pliers says:

        Huh? They were definitely up for longer than that, I got the game (and a copy of it for a friend to co-op with) from a bargain bin, which was easily past six month mark. Googling about suggests that the servers were up for about 19 months.

        Still utterly pathetic, tho.

    • zbeeblebrox says:

      It would not surprise me at all if it taking Sim City offline also made it impossible to play at all. Just bricks. Bricks everywhere.

      And since Sim City is ostensibly meant to be a single player game, they’re not going to get the typical lamentations you see when MMOs or optional multiplayer elements like Sims 2 or sports games die. Ohhh no. Killing Sim City is going to make people angry. Multiplayer gamers are used to shutdowns and taking crap from people. Singleplayer gamers…you don’t mess with them like that. They’re crazy.

  4. DrHeaton says:

    I suppose a large factor in the games being shut down is not the age but the fact they’ve pretty much all been replaced by one or two games in the franchise.

    FIFA, NBA, NHL and Madden are all annual releases and I doubt many of those who played Sims 2 haven’t now moved on to Sims 3. Yeah it sucks that huge chunks of the game you paid for are no longer available but I suspect very very few people were still playing these games anyway.

    • Belsameth says:

      That might be the case with this specific series of games, but that’s far from always the case. EA MMA was the same, while even selling online passes!

    • Premium User Badge

      RedViv says:

      That’s a rather interesting point right there. The sports games are, more or less, to be disposed of annually. Sims 2, on the other hand, is about to be eight years old, four years since the last official addition, and no online services of remarkable importance.

    • briktal says:

      The NBA game getting shut down is actually the most recent one released by EA. The 11 game was cancelled just before release, they skipped 12, and cancelled the 13 game too.

    • reosarevok says:

      Well, kinda OT since this is a PC site and all that, but for FIFA on Wii, 11 was the last version to feature online at all. Which means there’s no longer a way to play online FIFA on your Wii. Which (even if the game wasn’t amazing) is annoying.

  5. the.celt says:

    So will that make these games unplayable? I’d heard that Spore was about to lose online service, but I didn’t know what role it played in the game. Do the games require online registration, and thus you can’t play? Or is it more of a social media element (which I wouldn’t care about at all)?

    • Xerian says:

      I dont know about spore, but the new SimCity’ll have an always-on DRM (which you can thank some dumbass I know through IGN Prime for), and once they decide that games services arent worth keeping online, the entire game’ll be unplayable. And I give it two-ish years.

    • Premium User Badge

      RedViv says:

      Spore would be rather awkward. One of the key points of the game is that it would download the creations of other players and populate the game with it.

      • Ovno says:

        Can’t say I ever cared about the large phallus monsters others had made, I just wanted to play my own race in a fairly standard world…

  6. Neurotic says:

    I don’t think it’s such a great loss really, as the network of sims fansites that support S2 are Borg-like in their all-encompassing, unstoppable nature. Even after lots of fans moved to S3. You could buy vanilla Sims 2 today and easily build it into a 20 Gb+ encrustation on your hard drive with just a few key expansions and thousands of fan-made pieces. Story albums and so on can easily be made and shared outside the bounds of the official tools… As a devoted Sims man, I can’t say I’m very upset about this.

  7. Synesthesia says:

    damn it . Now i’m mad cause you made me remember about stupid simcity drm. Crap. They can have it.

  8. Buemba says:

    I played Sims 2 for well over a hundred hours and honestly have no idea what its online services even are.

  9. Bhazor says:

    Maybe now we can see Sims 2 get a discount?

    • mondomau says:

      Christ no, then I’d have no way of convincing my other half not to infect the Laptop with it.

  10. rocketman71 says:

    Not FIFA 10, not 09, not 08, but FIFA 11. And they probably announced it now and not last month so we could not say they were closing servers for last year’s games.

    Well, they are. And any of you buying EA games, knowing full well what they do and what a POS Origin is, and the fact that they don’t provide any public server files or patches to fix this kind of thing, deserves exactly this.

    Don’t give money to companies like EA and Ubi. This is the result. Closed servers and BS DRM so they can FORCE you to buy the same game every fucking year. And it’ll get worse.

    • briktal says:

      FIFA 11 was the game released Fall 2010, so it’s slightly over 2 years old.

    • Premium User Badge

      Joshua says:

      Fifa 2011 is from 2010.
      The Sims 2 is 8 years old.

      Briktal beat me.

  11. frenz0rz says:

    For a second I thought that said Sims Online. Anyone remember that?

    It launched in 2002, and apparently EA’s online support continued right up until August 2008.

    And nobody played it. Aside from Kieron Gillen, according to my May 2003 issue of PC Gamer that I was idly flicking through a few days ago.

  12. Lanfranc says:

    This article would have been much more useful if it had gone into more detail about what this actually means for the games in question. I’ve never played any of the sports games, but for Sims 2 I believe the only remaining major online service is the Exchange – which I’ve never used, and there are gazillions of fansites with content out there anyway. So is that really “a huge chunk of functionality” as the article claims?

    Also, some people above are talking about always-on DRM and making games unplayable, but is a DRM server the same as an “online service”? Are there any examples of DRM authentication actually being taken offline, and games ceasing to function as a result? Context, please!

    • A Pair of Pliers says:

      For example, Mercenaries 2 has online-activated Securom stuff, and you can still activate it online despite the servers being down. Just cannot co-op (albeit there is a server emulator for it as a workaround for that, too)

    • malkav11 says:

      As far as I know, none of the handful of games that have always-online DRM have been out long enough for even EA to shut down servers on them. And there’s really no percentage in turning off activation-only servers as the workload there is minimal – I would be far more worried about those going away if a company folds. But they can at any time, and servers as critical or more so (e.g. MMO servers, multiplayer servers for multiplayer only games) are shut down all the time so there’s no reason to expect always-online DRM servers to be sacrosanct. Why risk it? Furthermore, why let them get away with it?

  13. Capt. Eduardo del Mango says:

    Of all the crummy things crummy developers do, arbitrarily tying multiplayer support to a server of theirs and then forcing obsolescence is the crummiest. I’ll continue to vote with my wallet on the issue.

    I’m completely unfamiliar with Sims 2, though – what will this mean for players of the game? Does the online functionality extend beyond just playing with other people, and how central a part of the game is it?

    • malkav11 says:

      AFAIK there is no multiplayer component to any of the Sims games. I have no idea what online functionality Sims 2 had.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        Probably referring to the official Marketplace (or Sims Central, or whatever they were calling it), where you could download paid EA creations and Sims stuff made by other players. For dedicated Sims 2 fanatics, the shutdown is going to be hard to swallow.

  14. Alexrd says:

    “… but as with all games from EA the moment they’re launched they’re on the road to having all support sliced off.”

    No. Replace “from EA” with “with online connection required” and you’ve got a correct setence. We live in a day where people ask for online DRM, with people saying “I hope this game is Steamworks” and the like. For those who don’t know, these servers, no matter how successful a company is, cost money and will eventually be shut down sooner or later. That’s why I don’t buy games with online activations or with internet connection required. That’s like asking for trouble.

  15. Premium User Badge

    Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    In a shock move, EA has also announced the closure of online services for FIFA 2014 and The Sims 4.

  16. reggiep says:

    I think in an effort to pile on EA for doing what your proposed narrative said they would do, you’ve sacrificed some journalistic integrity. How is the game actually affected? How many players are affected?

    I think if you examined this more closely, you’d find that it’s really a non-issue.

  17. luukdeman111 says:

    After glimpsing the header image I was hoping for a Grim Fandango 2 confirmed title of some sort…..

    This news is less exciting though….. Let’s pray for all those poor THQ assets…..

  18. eartsidi says:

    If you think Bruce`s story is something…, two weeks ago my sisters mom in law basically also got paid $7365 putting in a 10 hour week an their house and their classmate’s mother-in-law`s neighbour done this for eight months and got a cheque for over $7365 in their spare time at their labtop. use the information from this site, http://www.Cloud65.com

  19. wu wei says:

    I dream of an industry that utilises open technology stacks to deliver server support and then releases the source code to the public when it decides to stop providing servers, rather than forcing fans to reverse engineer its behaviour and build their own.

    Yes, I know they’re really wanting to force people to upgrade, but damn: software used to be an _engineering_ discipline, whereas these days everything is built with obsolescence in mind because it’s viewed as being more profitable.

  20. hitnrun says:

    Across the format pond, Madden and NHL are a huge annual release on 360 and PS3. My friends have been after me for years to buy the NHL title with them in particular one of these Augusts.

    I knew the games became obsolete within a year, but not that they’d become literally worthless within two years. Fat chance I’d buy one now.

  21. freegames says:

    I played shit tons of Sims 2. I don’t think I have ever go online with it… The hell? I’ve only played the original and the few first add-ons (I think up to University) and I don’t remember the game having any online functions.