Yikes: GameSpy Shutdown Will Affect A Lot Of Games

By Nathan Grayson on April 8th, 2014 at 10:00 am.

I always did enjoy how poorly drawn the GameSpy mascot was - Xs for eyes or not.

GameSpy, a relic from times long before the modern Internet – or indeed, games and spies – existed is closing down. This on its own is not surprising as the multiplayer service is, by modern standards, buggy and kind of a joke, but it leaves a startling number of games with their e-wings clipped and their online-heaving hams strung in its wake. How many, you ask? Well, Reddit’s /r/Games board compiled a massive list, and the results aren’t pretty.

Here’s the full thing, handily broken up into sections based on how doomed/un-doomed various games are:

Affected

  • Arma (Source)
  • Arma: Cold War Assault (Source)
  • Arma 2 (Source)
  • Arma 2: Free (Source)
  • Borderlands
  • Dungeon Defenders [PS3/Non-Steam] (Source)
  • Halo: Combat Evolved
  • Saints Row 2 (Source)
  • Star Wars Battlefront
  • Star Wars Battlefront 2
  • Stronghold 2 (Source)
  • Stronghold Legends (Source)
  • Take On Helicopters (Source)

Status Unknown

  • Alien vs Predator (Classic)
  • Alien vs Predator 2
  • Battlefield 1942
  • Battlefield 2
  • Battlefield 2142
  • Battlefield Bad Company 2
  • Battlefield Vietnam
  • Call of Juarez
  • Call of Juarez Bound in Blood
  • Civilization III
  • Civilization IV
  • Commandos 2
  • Commandos 3
  • Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines
  • Commandos: Behind the Call of Duty
  • Crysis
  • Crysis Warhead
  • Crysis Wars
  • Far Cry
  • Hexen
  • Hexen 2
  • Jagged Alliance
  • Jagged Alliance 2
  • Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault
  • Medal of Honor: Allied Assault
  • Medieval Total War
  • Medieval Total War 2
  • Multiwinia
  • Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit
  • Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit 2
  • Postal 2
  • Quake 2
  • Quake 3
  • Quake 4
  • Red Dead Redemption
  • Shogun Total War
  • Soldier of Fortune
  • Soldier of Fortune 2
  • SWAT 2
  • SWAT 3
  • SWAT 4
  • Titan Quest
  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon
  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter
  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2
  • Tom Clancy’s HAWX
  • Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Chaos Theory
  • Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Double Agent
  • Two Worlds
  • Two Worlds 2
  • Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War
  • Warhammer 40K: Dark Crusade
  • Warhammer 40K: Soulstorm
  • Warhammer 40K: Winter Assault

Probably Unaffected

  • Call of Duty (Source)
  • Call of Duty United Offense (Source)
  • Call of Duty 2 (Source)
  • Unreal Tournament
  • Unreal Gold
  • Unreal 2

Unaffected

  • Arma 2: Operation Arrowhead (Source)
  • Arma 3 (Source)
  • Company of Heroes (Source)
  • Street Fighter 3: 3rd Strike Online Edition (Source)
  • Stronghold HD (Source)
  • Stronghold Crusader HD ((Source)

That’s quite a list, and the gray area in the center is especially worrisome. GameSpy doesn’t officially ride off into the sunset to join Geocities and AOL CDs until May 31st, so here’s hoping we hear something from pertinent developers and publishers soon.

I plan on reaching out to a number of them, and I’ll report back with what (if anything) I hear. In the meantime, you give that copy of Postal 2 one last hug, and you hug it tight.

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92 Comments »

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  1. 1Life0Continues says:

    Wait, what? Red Dead Redemption?

    GameSpy was on console? Or is this a mistake?

    • Premium User Badge

      RedViv says:

      it was very much used on consoles, since the days of the PS2.

    • Moraven says:

      GameSpy powers Nintendo’s DS and Wii online matchmaking. People were upset when Nintendo announced it was shutting it down mid May, 10 days before the next Mario Kart on the Wii U is out. Conspiracy theories came out saying they want to push Wii U sales. It was obvious when Glu said they were stopping any future licensing of GameSpy.

      • weary ghoul says:

        If GameSpy is shutting down the services then I don’t think Nintendo has much of a choice here. I wouldn’t expect any company to put in the work to create a whole new online infrastructure for old, last-generation games that in relative terms probably don’t have that many online players anyway.

        It’s always sad when a multiplayer game dies, but I’m not particularly upset at Nintendo over this. This is how things work in this industry. Then again, I am a long-time Nintendo loyalist so perhaps I’m biased.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Clavus says:

    This list isn’t completely accurate (some of these games haven’t used GameSpy at all), and thanks to services like GameRanger a lot of these games will continue to function, with the rest possibly being added in the future:
    http://www.reddit.com/r/Games/comments/22fz75/list_of_games_affected_by_gamespy_shutdown/cgmuoi3

    Yay PC gaming :)

    • omNOMinator says:

      Well that’s reassuring.

    • Premium User Badge

      melnificent says:

      You said the summoning spell…..Gameranger.

      *He* will appear.

        • Premium User Badge

          melnificent says:

          We were just, erm… tidying up. No idea how the circle got there, must’ve been someone else.
          *rubs chalk with foot*

          I really do need to check out gameranger, I only heard about it last week and it should keep AvP classic alive a bit longer :)

  3. omNOMinator says:

    Oh dear, Borderlands and Battlefront II will be missed, and I bought Civ IV recently, damn.

    • ViktorBerg says:

      Unless you extensively play Civ 4 in multiplayer, I don’t think you will be affected much. There isn’t any gamespy authentication at all for single-player games.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Yes, it’s a bit misleading in that regard; AFAIK, GameSpy has never worked in a DRM-y must-connect-or-can’t-play-at-all fashion, just as a networking component.

        It would also be useful to make a distinction between if it’s essential or optional for multiplayer: plenty of GameSpy-using games also let you connect by good ol’ fashioned type-an-IP, and while that may be clunkier than a server browser, it will also keep working until the end of the Internet as we know it. The ones which are really killed off by this are the ones which only let you connect via GameSpy.

        • Eagle0600 says:

          Unless they’re incompatible with IPv6, which will, presumably, one day be required for anything to connect to the majority of addresses. Maybe Hamachi or similar services will help with that.

          • LionsPhil says:

            So many things are incompatible with IPv6 that dropping v4 dead pretty much would be the end of the Internet as we know it. In practice, yes, we’re going to see a very, very slow decline of it. Even if ISPs stop handing out v4 addresses, it should be possible to do tunneling tricks. I suspect by the time you have to start worrying about things like the OS losing its v4 stack, you’ve already had to move to DOSBox levels of emulation-y tricks because of the rest of the world changing so wildly.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Cinek says:

    Really hope Crysis will keep on working. Loosing a wonder of Mechwarrior: Living Legends would be an enormous loss. :(

  5. Ansob says:

    Hopefully BF2142 is unaffected, since it’s both a) the best Battlefield and b) so old that EA’s not going to bother doing anything. Would be a crying shame if it becomes unplayable. :(

    • EPICTHEFAIL says:

      *Starts praying* I still jump into 2142 on occasion. I have no idea what EA are thinking not making a sequel to that.

  6. BULArmy says:

    Ok sorry for the apparently noob question, but BF Bad Company 2, what it has to do with GameSpy when it uses dedicated servers for its multiplayer? They are rented/bought from a 3rd party supplier that EA has a contract with.

    • FaceWound says:

      That certainly is a noob question ;) Gamespy hosts the list of available servers (i.e the server browser) not the actual servers.

  7. Steven Hutton says:

    Maybe someone will port SF3:3rd strikes incredible console network architecture to the PC now?

    That’s be worth all of this hassle because, man, 360 3rd strike has got REALLY good net-code.

    • pepperfez says:

      It was GGPO, wasn’t it? If so, that’s in use on at least some PC games (Skullgirls and the FinalBurn emulator off the top of my head).

  8. znisses says:

    Something I find lacking in the coverage of GameSpy going down is whether or not there will be any game that will loose singleplayer ability as well.

    Not being well versed in GameSpy tech the wording kind of suggests that it was basically implemented and used for online gaming and not as some kind of DRM feature… That little distinction I find missing and rather important from my own point of view (I do not do online well and multiplayer not at all, singleplayer campaign or not at all).

    A little googling around showed that with GameSpy multiplayer services also an unknown bunch of games will loose authentication service so installing/playing may be broken indefinitely. That list is (for me at least) a hell of a lot more interesting…

    • Scott Kevill says:

      That’s because there hasn’t been any research in this coverage. All the game sites are copy-pasting from all the other game sites who copy-pasted from Reddit who copy-pasted from another forum who copy-pasted from an incorrect source in the first place. It’s been a journalistic fail all round.

    • soldant says:

      Gamespy has been used for MP matchmaking or server browsing, it isn’t DRM (except perhaps to check for pirated copies sharing a CD key or something like that, don’t really remember 100%). The SP component of all of those games will work, but MP won’t. A load of those games are old with dead MP communities… so I wouldn’t panic too much. It’s the more recent titles that are concerning.

      Also, and I’m really sorry to do this to you since you’re not the only one but this really bugs me: it’s lose not loose. You lose a bet. Your shoelaces are loose.

      • Convolvulus says:

        GameSpy has CD key verification functionality, but it’s only used to regulate online multiplayer.

    • SuicideKing says:

      Game spy used to be an optional install for a lot of games, and usually wouldn’t stop any other services from working. It’s just used to maintain a server browser, not as DRM. Single player will work just fine. That’s the difference between GameSpy and GFWL.

      At least, from whatever experiences I’ve had.

  9. Lord_Santa says:

    should’ve stuck to being QuakeSpy instead… reason says that all ‘services’ such as GameSpy, being used as ‘the one and only method of playing these games online’ will eventually disappear…
    of course there’s always alternatives; but not for all games and it’s usually a hassle…

    • Press X to Gary Busey says:

      Central server architecture standards should really be open. But of course that’s never going to happen because of fearing piracy and lost control of customers. Plus there’s no incentive to set aside resources for old games way past their profit-cycle.
      There’s a huge dark age of unaccessible gaming history happening right now exactly as predicted. Much older games with simple direct connections still work while later games simply don’t and it’s just going to get worse…

  10. hypercrisis says:

    There’s more than even those lists actually show. I’m pretty sure plenty of more obscure titles ran on Gamespy like Turok 2.

  11. Billanthrop says:

    It’s ‘Call of Duty: United Offensive’ by the way Nathan.

  12. PC-GAMER-4LIFE says:

    Forget that list those games are ancient (but publishers should still support them I just cannot see MS doing anything about Halo can you its 11 years old!) when GFWL shuts down in 3 months it will really hit the fan as so many games are in limbo all because MS threw their toys out of the pram & said we do not want to keep the GFWL infrastructure running a few more years. There are many active games still using GFWL: Dark Souls, Dead Rising 2+OTR, Bulletstorm (removed from Steam as MS no longer give out GFWL keys). GTA4, Fallout3 RPS should delve deeper into what exactly is going to happen with GFWL why can MS not keep it active for a few more years they let XP go forever until today!

  13. Drake Sigar says:

    I haven’t used Gamespy in many years but for a while there back in the age of 56k modems it seemed to be the place to go.

  14. BillyIII says:

    What about Unreal Tournament 3?

    Also, how do I subscribe to the reply notifications?

  15. RaymondTracer says:

    You forgot Turok 2: Seeds Of Evil

  16. Artist says:

    Hey, wheres the Doomsayers that fear the end of Steam, Origin and alike?

    Also: Time for GoG to shine again! Come and save Multiplayer for the seniors! =)

    • SuicideKing says:

      Hey, wheres the Doomsayers that fear the end of Steam, Origin and alike?

      ‘Sup.

    • LionsPhil says:

      This isn’t really a DRM thing, though; more an infrastructure thing.

      But when the Steamworks servers go down, even if Valve do have and throw the oft-alleged “DRM off switch”, the same critical-networking-component-goes-away impact implies as here, but for so, so many games, and I think ones with fewer alternative options (e.g. LAN + Hamachi).

      So, yes, hardcoding dependency on a server is fragile, regardless of intent.

  17. Neurotic says:

    My fondest memories of GameSpy come from BF 1942. That was the first proper online shooter I played that didn’t have it’s own, built-in functionality (i.e. Planetside), and my first proper experience of dicey online game-finding. :D Happy times!

    • Awesumo says:

      Bf 1942 was just legendary. Really hope it still works – the online remake and the sequels never really did it justice.

  18. AbyssUK says:

    Codename Eagle will live forever!

  19. Heliocentric says:

    Gamespy dropped SWAT 4 ages ago and 2142 onwards battlefield games used EA services, but I’ve no idea if EA’s services still run.

  20. BlueTemplar says:

    This isn’t the first time that GameSpy breaks games :
    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/12/10/the-spy-who-went-into-the-cold-gamespys-casualties/

  21. Heliocentric says:

    Chaos Theory Coop and competitive multiplayer are safe as they are built on a ubisoft network thing. Most ubisoft games are probably safe.

  22. Jason Moyer says:

    I would be really surprised if Borderlands weren’t moved to Steam multiplayer, given that they’ve already fully integrated the rest of it with Steamworks (i.e. cloud saves and achievements).

  23. Premium User Badge

    JamesTheNumberless says:

    Gameswhat? Games pie? Sounds awful.

  24. big boy barry says:

    Many a happy hour was spent playing MOH Allied Asault on Gamespy.My 1st online FPS experience so il always remember it fondly.
    SIgh.

  25. Premium User Badge

    JamesTheNumberless says:

    Online play with strangers (as opposed to LAN play, or online with people whose IP addresses you know) except in the case of MMOs or MUDs was never really popular with anyone I knew, or wanted to play with, before Steam became ubiquitous. So I’m not going to miss Gamespy, I only ever knew it as that annoying thing that some games wanted you to install.

  26. C0llic says:

    What about Men Of War ?

    I seem to remember it using game spy for its co-op and online play. I’m unsure if Assualt Squad did or does, but pretty sure about the former.

    • Scott Kevill says:

      Both Men of War and Men of War: Assault Squad did use GameSpy. DigitalMindSoft (the developer of those games) has recommended players start using GameRanger instead. (See hunsnotdead’s comment above.)

  27. Cooper says:

    This is one of the laziest news stories on RPS I’ve seen in a while.

    – Will the affected games only break multiplayer, or some of them break single player too?
    – What are our options to keep playing these games? (GameRanger? Hamachi?)

    Answering these questions instead of presenting a copypasta of someone else’s hard work in collating this would be actually useful and informative.

  28. Allenomura says:

    The Sierra/Fox AVPs, the 40K DOW titles and Quake 3 are ones I’d be eager for clarification on the future of. I hope Acti/ID doesn’t just leave everyone stuck with Quake live in the latter case.
    Also, what about the oncoming fallout from Games for Windows Live going?

    • Fumarole says:

      Didn’t the original AvP use MPlayer?

      • Scott Kevill says:

        Yes, I think AvP was on MPlayer (which was acquired by GameSpy), and I think Zone as well. It used a generic DirectPlay lobby launching mechanism that meant any service could support it. This is why it will be unaffected.

        Quake 3 didn’t use GameSpy at all, and is unaffected.

        The W40K Dawn of War titles did use GameSpy, but can also be played on GameRanger.

  29. Vodka, Crisps, Plutonium says:

    Just to notify, the gamespy service has been long gone for Alien vs Predator 2 (it’s playable through a fan-made patch and some folks are still playing it).
    So you can safely remove the game from “status unknown” list.

    P.S.
    Btw, that’s the thing about online servers (even the digital stores): there’s no need to worry much about their fate, at least, on PC-market. Whenever any of those will shut down, even Steam:
    1) for any good game there always will be enthusiasts to fix the game online features and run it on their own servers;
    2) hopefully, those services before the closure, will issue a release-from-DRM patch (like GFWL intends to do, and they are microsoft), and we can just back-up our games on very much accessible extra hard drive.
    If no, there will still always be digital copies available through torrents, and if I paid for the game, I have every moral right to download it.

    • pepperfez says:

      for any good game
      Unfortunately for those of us with earnestly shit taste,

      • Press X to Gary Busey says:

        Indeed.. Capcom, I know you and all your customers except me hated Resident Evil Outbreak 2 but please reactivate the PS2 server! I want to hang out forever alone in the empty browser again!

  30. Premium User Badge

    Don Reba says:

    STALKER should be on the “affected” list, as well.

  31. Sheogorath says:

    Ah Gamespy, just as you annoyed us in life, so you will annoy us in death.

  32. neolith says:

    I really hope BFBC2 will be working without it…

  33. HisDivineOrder says:

    This is why anyone who says that the ability to run your own servers is pointless… is an idiot.

    • NathanMates says:

      Running your own servers is only part of the issue here. Gamespy’s business model was to NOT RUN DEDICATED GAME SERVERS. Gamespy started with Matchmaking, then expanded to some CD Key (demanded by publishers, not developers!), stats, NAT Negotiation, etc. A lot of people keep making this mistake, thinking that the “Powered by GameSpy” meant that a dedicated server — per multiplayer game session — sitting in Gamespy’s server farm was handling that game’s multiplayer. That’s really wrong.

      Instead, Gamespy’s model was matchmaking. Imagine a big whiteboard somewhere that says “JoeBob’s game session is at 123.45.67.89″ and “Sue’s game session is at 98.76.54.32″ — that’s what Gamespy matchmaking did. Gamespy matchmaking was a way for servers to advertise themselves, and for prospective clients to get the IP addresses. That’s the primary server they provided. And MP within the game, specifically good or laggy play, that’s up to the internet connections of players involved, and the individual game’s network code. Not a single packet of a game instance’s networking went thru Gamespy’s servers after the initial matchmaking.

      Battlezone II (which I did the MP code for) had all that you seemed to ask — people are allowed to run MP servers on their own boxes. We had Gamespy matchmaking (for the internet), LAN support, and JoinIP for people who wanted to direct join w/o going thru Gamespy. Guess what? When GLU Mobile killed matchmaking support for Battlezone II, did this affect anyone’s ability to run a MP server on their own box? Not in the least. Did this affect JoinIP? Not in the least. But, the average player who wanted to find a game couldn’t get that list of servers. And people were back to posting IP addresses on forums for others to join. That’s what the lack of matchmaking will do to all the games that GLU Mobile just killed support for.

      Disclaimer: I’ve helped implement Gamespy on three titles: Battlezone II (the third game to use Gamespy’s 3rd party API), and Star Wars: Battlefront 1 & 2’s PC & Playstation 2. Yes, Battlezone II is a smaller title that’s old. And it hurts me a bit that lists like this don’t even bother listing us in addition to the other inaccuracies noted in this thread. But, BZ2 is still being patched up in my spare time, on my own dime. I’ve rewritten out the Gamespy matchmaking for RakNet.

  34. NathanMates says:

    RPS- you’ve got an amazing position as a major gaming news site. You can submit a set of questions to GLU Mobile, and their answers (or lack of answers) will put them on the spot. Basically, instead of just republishing press releases, actually be journalists and ask questions too. You could ask questions like:

    – What did GLU Mobile aim to get from buying Gamespy?
    – Has it been a benefit for the company?
    – Do you think the various cancellations of service (this, and earlier ones) will benefit end users?
    – Would they consider open sourcing pieces so that tech savvy communities could keep things going?
    – Why should I ever consider buying a game from GLU Mobile after all this?

    Disclaimer: I’m still patching and supporting Battlezone II in my spare time, on my own dime. We were one of the earliest 3rd party users of the Gamespy SDK, and had a small (~200 active players per week) when GLU Mobile yanked support for BZ2 on 2012/10/08. I had to do an emergency rewrite and patch release to change over to RakNet for matchmaking, NAT Negotiation, etc. Thus, I’m not disinterested in the answers.

    • Baines says:

      Maybe RPS doesn’t care, because there isn’t a social justice angle to cover?

      Open sourcing parts of GameSpy isn’t likely. Even if GLU was interested (and they have no reason to be interested), it might risk putting them in a legal jam with the multitude of publishers who used GameSpy. I’m sure at least some of those publishers are so paranoid about piracy (or just so stuffed with legal red tape) that they would rather see the service die (and their old games lose matchmaking and authentication and the like) than see it go open source.

      Consider that Activision wouldn’t let an Infinity Ward employee try to explain why some perceived lag in Modern Warfare 3 wasn’t Infinity Ward’s fault, with Activision’s argument being that the explanation risked giving out proprietary information about how MW3’s net code worked. Activision ignored that MW3’s online performance was so awful that no sane company would want to steal its net code, which was why the IW employee was trying to perform damage control in the first place. (Though Activision denying the explanation did conveniently keep the employee from further embarrassing himself with dubious explanations/excuses.)

  35. Darth Gangrel says:

    This is why I only play singleplayer games (I also don’t like other people).

    When I saw “Source” next to the games I first thought “Didn’t know there were so many Source Engine based games”, but then I hovered over the link to see what it was (I *never* click on links without first seeing what they lead to).

  36. Dezztroy says:

    Come on RPS, this copy-paste “news” is just embarrasing. There are games on that list that never even used Gamespy.

  37. Solidstate89 says:

    I can’t imagine anyone being too heartbroken over the lack of multiplayer for the Total War Games. I never knew anyone that played the multiplayer. It’s like the opposite of today’s modern military shooters where practically no one gives a damn about the campaign.

  38. agitatedclimax says:

    I like to think one of the circles of hell is devoted to eating endless boxes of AOL CDs.

  39. gwathdring says:

    Civ IV is a bit of a blow for me. SWAT 4 would be, except I only play it at LAN parties at which not everyone owns a copy since it’s so hard to track down–we basically never use true online multiplayer. Hopefully that will still work.

  40. Corb says:

    Oh no!!!! Not borderlands! Because the pc multiplayer was so playable to begin with!

  41. Tei says:

    Years ago LordHavoc made dpmaster for this type of problem. So games that use dpmaster are unafected:
    Transfusion – Xonotic – Nexuiz – Open Arena – Warsow – Quake – Urban Terror – Tremulous

  42. zytos says:

    Time to fire up Kali.

  43. Frank says:

    Good — now devs and reasonable people will have artillery when arguing against using such services.

  44. Unruly says:

    So, explain to me how Quake 2 uses GameSpy aside from GameSpy3D being an old favorite piece of server browser software? I remember that to play Quake 2 using GameSpy back in the day you created a Quake 2 tab, which included a list of master servers that you could add or subtract to at will, and you set the game launch parameters(for mods and such). All that GameSpy did was aggregate the server listings that it pulled from the numerous master servers and provide a means to launch directly into the game.

    Something for which there were many, many services and programs back in the day(Who remembers Heat, TEN, WON, and MPlayer? I DO!). In fact, GameSpy as a server browser was largely supplanted by All-Seeing Eye years ago. Right around the time that the horrible GameSpy Arcade was released and GameSpy3D stopped seeing updates. Though it appears that All-Seeing Eye died about 5 years ago and started redirecting people to GameSpy Arcade. Oh, the irony…

    Seriously, though, those games from the mid-late 90’s that are on that list? GameSpy’s closing won’t affect them. All that will happen is that the remaining community will launch a new master server that individual servers will be indexed by. And even if they don’t, you’ll still be able to connect by just typing in the IP address yourself.

  45. potamus24 says:

    This article is sexist and offends people.