Life After GameSpy: Civ 3, Civ 4 And Borderlands Go Steam

By Alice O'Connor on April 23rd, 2014 at 4:00 pm.

Secret gamegent man

You might well cheer the demise of GameSpy Technologies, but an awful lot of games will lose official online multiplayer support when the service shuts down on May 31. Publishers scour the battlefield running triage measuring pulses peeling eyelids shining lights flexing smashed bones jabbing fingers in wounds licking blood. “We’ve got a live one here!” they cry occasionally and haul the game up on their shoulder, but all too often stand up, brush themselves down, then step over the grasping bloodied hand as they quietly walk away.

2K Games shall save Borderlands, Civilization III, Civ IV, and Civ IV: Colonization, the publisher has confirmed, along with their expansions. A dozen of its less popular games will be less lucky.

2K plans to switch these four to Steamworks from May 31, warning that “During the transition, players will experience interruption of several features, including online play, matchmaking and voiceover Internet protocol (VOIP) where applicable.”

These games won’t be updated:

Some of these are a good decade old, so it’s not surprising that they’re being allowed to drift away.

They won’t strictly gone, though. Many will still be playable if communities switch to hosting their own master server lists or use tools like GameRanger, though one big reason why devs and publishers used GameSpy was so people wouldn’t need to discover, download, and learn how to use other software. Still, one might speculate that if you’re devotedly playing a decade-old game rather than chasing shiny newness, you’re likely to be the sort of person who knows about such things.

Stronghold developer Firefly Studios had said before this announcement that they were looking into a solution, and today are still pointing people to that. Those two Stronghold games will also lose LAN play when GameSpy goes down, Firefly say, so they’d be entirely de-multiplayered. There may still be hope.

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51 Comments »

  1. Yachmenev says:

    Let’s hope that 2k finally can be arsed to fix the double entries of the Civ4 games in our Steam library then?

    • Moraven says:

      But some might like their Mac version showing up separate!

    • mmiasmostati says:

      Considering how this has happened previously (eg. Batmans and Company of Heroes) I think it’s more likely you’ll end up with a third set of Civ IV games on your Steam list.

    • Surlywombat says:

      Hate to break it to you, but when Company of Heroes moved to Steamworks match making it added a second CoH.

      There’s a chance this could mean 4 Civ IVs.

      Edit: what he said.

    • HadToLogin says:

      But I like my copies of Civilization 4. That means more games, which means for profiles XP :)

    • Noburu says:

      Ha i just assumed it was a bug on my end. I didnt know it was like that for everyone.

  2. stahlwerk says:

    What, there were Jetfighter games made after 2?

  3. amateurviking says:

    Interesting. Might be tempted to go back and give Borderlands another whirl.

  4. AngelTear says:

    That opening paragraph was way too grim and realistic for a piece of gaming news.
    Excellent writing as always, but, huh…

    • DanMan says:

      She’s a punk, what do you expect? Flowers and unicorns?

      • The Random One says:

        Why not? Maybe they are jagged ugly flowers and unicorns with mohawks!

      • Alice O'Connor says:

        I resent this on several levels which make me go “No, I… huh. No. I… no. Huh.”

        • DanMan says:

          Uhm, I’m sorry but blue hair (as in the introduction image) is screaming punk at me.

          Checking your Twitter, I see you now have the Mohawk to go along with it. Stop pretending, girl! You know I’m right! Embrace the truth!

    • pepperfez says:

      Agreed! I’m already a bit broken up at the idea of games disappearing forever, and then that opening…what I mean is, Alice summed up my thoughts exactly.

  5. Lemming says:

    Crucially, there’s still no word from Sega or Relic on updating DoW2 and DoW2: Reign of Chaos for Steamworks in this manner.

    • Moraven says:

      Yah, I was hoping they would switch those over since they had the work done for Retribution using Steamworks instead of GFWL.

      Not that I played multi Chaos Rising in a long time.

      • DatonKallandor says:

        It’s less about losing the PvP multiplayer (since Retribution does the same thing, with more races, with more mods, on steamworks), but losing the awesome Coop functionality for the campaign. DoW 2/CR coop is some of the most fun you can have coop in an RTS/ARPG.

        • Moraven says:

          I played a bit of both, co op and versus. It would be great to be able to go back at anytime and do the campaign again.

    • Mungrul says:

      That’s to do with GfWL though, isn’t it? Not GameSpy.

  6. Moraven says:

    Curious why Stronghold would lose LAN play due to Gamespy going down. Now would Gamespy stop you from playing LAN?

    • Surlywombat says:

      A few companies used GameSpy as rudimentary DRM I believe.

      • Moraven says:

        So you had to do a DRM check to play LAN? But could load up single player. Interesting.

  7. DanMan says:

    That’s why centralization is bad. And now they switch over to Steam. Hilarious.

    Anyone remember The All-Seeing Eye? Back when most games were based on the Quake engine? One simple program to query all the different games’ servers. No single point of failure.

    • Siimon says:

      “One simple program” has a key word in it: “one”, which would pretty much mean that it has a critical point of failure, such as ASE shutting down… which it did in 2008.

      • Josh W says:

        Makes me wonder why haven’t had an open source equivalent project, whether it’s problems of exploits etc. or just that no-one’s really thought of it/passed that work hump. That would solve the problem of centralisation, in that other people can fork the project if they need to.

      • DanMan says:

        Nuh-uh! It didn’t shut down, it was sold to Yahoo, and they stopped developing it. But you could still use it. It’s just that more and more games stopped doing servers in a compatible way (Quake).

  8. phelix says:

    Amazing! Do they pay you for all these extra characters?

    • The Random One says:

      Maybe s/he’s just taking a deep rasping breath before continuing?

  9. 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.

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      1) Money, and technologies which might lead to more money.
      2) Running the platform, at least, hasn’t been enough of a benefit to keep it up.
      3) Of course they don’t.
      4) Nope.
      5) If you are interested in a game of theirs enough to overcome any dislike of the company this decision may have inspired, you should buy it.

  10. The Random One says:

    And yet, F.U.E.L. will be allowed to die with GfWL. *weeps copiously*

  11. Frank says:

    Good on ya, 2k.

  12. Conehead The Barbarian says:

    “and their expansions, the publisher has confirmed, along with their expansions”
    Expansions!

    Back on topic, its good to see that these games won’t die.

  13. Jazzyboy says:

    “and their expansions, the publisher has confirmed, along with their expansions”

    Nitpicking here, but you wrote ‘their expansions’ twice there.

  14. Cytrom says:

    This is the kind of thing that puts 2k on the very short “good list” of big publishers. I appreciated what they did with bioshock 2 too.

    While others just let their games with active communities die, and don’t give a crap about their customers who cannot play their own games anymore.

    • PopeRatzo says:

      2K is one of the great publishers. Their games are generally pretty well done and give good value.

  15. Universal Quitter says:

    I don’t know what I’m going to do without Gamespy for Vietcong: Fist Alpha. Or Leadfoot? A sad day for PC gaming…

    • Tony M says:

      I still enjoy Vietcong, although I only play it single player so will be unaffected.

  16. Docm30 says:

    Stronghold 2 and Legends can go die, but what’s the word on Stronghold Crusader? I still play that from time to time.

  17. MellowKrogoth says:

    If only games still let you plan on the LAN… but no, preventing a few pirates from playing is more important than letting customers enjoy it for years to come.

  18. green frog says:

    Honestly, I’m kind of surprised they even saved Civ III. Don’t get me wrong, I had a lot of fun with the game back in the day, but are people really still playing multiplayer matches? I had assumed that was pretty much dead and buried by now.

    • StashAugustine says:

      I play it with my family since my dad can’t be bothered to learn a new Civ.

  19. racccoon says:

    I do not cheer the demise of a service which is the original one and one I first registered for back in day. GAMESPY is a gem. I’ve never had any qualms about it.
    STEAM is the pest. its out to purely create a monopoly and as monopoly companies go they destroy everything in their path. The only company to blame for demise of FREELY SUPPORTED PC GAMING TOOLS is STEAM. When Steam Falls I’ll be happy. A monopoly may work for STEAM now, but Monopoly’s always fall sooner or later.

  20. secuda says:

    Oh noes not vietcong 2… Demo?