Old Battlefield games re-killed after EA’s legal warning

Battlefield Heroes

All good things must end, and all that we love will turn to ash some day. The fan-run Revive Network, a community project to support and restore online play to several defunct EA games (including Battlefield 2, Battlefield 2142, and most recently Battlefield Heroes) is closing its doors after receiving a warning letter from the monolithic publisher.

They had a good run of 3 years in total, with nearly a million total sign-ups to their alternative master server service, but nothing can last forever. You can see Revive’s final message to their fans, as well as the text of the shutdown request on their Heroes revival site here.

“Electronic Arts Inc.’ legal team has contacted us and nicely asked us to stop distributing and using their intellectual property,” says the final message. “As diehard fans of the franchise, we will respect these stipulations.”

While not an official cease-and-desist order – the tone of the letter requesting the shutdown was couched in gaming-themed language. [Perhaps they’ve learned from the chummy-but-not-really letter Netflix sent to the Stranger Things pop-up cafe – Ed]. EA’s demands were clear: Remove all official trademarks, logos and artwork (something that can theoretically be worked around), but also to remove all client downloads for the games – even the defunct free-to-play Battlefield Heroes.

EA’s argument for the shutdown is that people may feel misled by the site, and might erroneously think that it’s an official EA endeavour. Given that the Revive network were providing support for games that had been shut down, I’d imagine that anyone confused enough to not realise that Revive is an unofficial effort would have a higher opinion of EA than they might otherwise, but that’s just my conjecture.

I’m just hoping this doesn’t hurt community plans to restore CCG/RTS hybrid Battleforge to life. I liked that game, especially in co-op, and must admit some frustration to this day that EA shut it down. On top of all that, I can’t help but feel a new pang of regret at not just missing out on Battlefield 2142 the first time round, but also overlooking it the second. Here’s hoping it gets a third wind some day, eh?

40 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Mungrul says:

    Gunning for that “most hated company” award again I see.
    Best thing these guys could do would be to release their master server code to the wild; let the community create and run their own servers if EA aren’t going to.

    I really miss the days of game servers ran by the community.

    • waltC says:

      The great thing about single-play, non-DRM games is that you can never be told to stop playing them…;) EA is simply scared of losing current business to past business from which it no longer profits–typical bean-counter nonsense. No thought is given as to how all of the free advertising helps their current sales, and elevates the profile of their company, nor how much goodwill for EA it generates. So scared of losing a penny are these scrooges that they don’t notice the dollars flying right out of their windows…;) Same old, same old.

    • ChrisT1981 says:

      I made it a rule right after BF 2, that I wouldn’t pay money for a mostly online shooters if it doesn’t have independent dedicated server support.

  2. Seafoam says:

    Sad thing, I didn’t play these games but it gets me fearful about the future of games that I loved.

    You can always emulate your old classics or buy them from GOG or something, but what about online games when their communities dry up? Will there be enough fans keeping the system going so you can revisit your old good times, or will they be shutdown by their publishers predecessors because they still own the license?

    Just thinking about being 60, wanting to play some Overwatch or something and it being a legal and literal impossibility.
    I know everything is impermanent, but knowing that digital information deteriorates without upkeep and thinking about the possibility of never ever being able to play a game again is kinda sad.

    • Kyle700 says:

      No, triple A games won’t be available, if things continue in the same way. Maybe only when they enter the public domain again. Some games, however, maintain a thriving multiplayer community in spite of their age or legal threats, like Smash Melee.

      This is sad. I mean, you can’t play these games without the multiplayer component, and yet EA has shut down multiplayer service. It’s clear the only reason to do this is to keep people purchasing new versions of games instead of playing the PERFECTLY GOOD, EVEN BETTER older releases. I don’t see this changing for modern titles like Overwatch 10 years from now.

    • JKnaperek says:

      Just use real examples, such as Starcraft. Online still 20 years later.

  3. GrumpyCatFace says:

    I wish I’d known about this project. Battlefield 2 was probably the last EA game that I really loved.

    • FurryLippedSquid says:

      Bad Company 2 shouldn’t be ignored and has many full servers.

      • shaydeeadi says:

        Yes! Bad Company 2 is still excellent, has plenty of players and a pretty good community. Was literally playing last night and do very regularly.

      • GrumpyCatFace says:

        Played it for a good long time, but it was ‘cartoon Battlefield’. Never quite scratched the itch from BF2…

      • treat says:

        So, another game EA is going to snuff out on a whim? I’ve never had the chance to play it, but I wouldn’t waste my money knowing it could be gone next week.

  4. dennis20014 says:

    This is so low and disheartening.. These guys have been running this for years. It was great to hop on every couple of months and play.

    I seriously doubt EA is planning to bring back servers for the online mode like they did for battlefront II so I don’t understand the point of this.

    I see people are still playing on the servers.. I imagine people are probably mirroring the launcher if you dig hard enough.

  5. Rince says:

    EA being EA.
    They don’t eat and don’t let others eat.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Neurotic says:

    I miss BF 1942 most of all. Playing that endlessly, seguing into DC Mod, and that becoming BF 2 — that was a golden age of online shooting in my own history book.

  7. stringerdell says:

    Overzealous assholes. That smarmy letter is pretty insulting.

  8. zulnam says:

    Battlefield 2 and 2142 were the best in the series and the project was great stuff that cost them nothing.

    Unless EA plans to revive them on their own, they are cordially invited to dine on a container of penises.

  9. SaintAn says:

    Boycott.

  10. hocevar says:

    I’m not really understanding this one, I get and agree with all the heat EA gets, they certainly deserve it, but from what I read on the letter EA is not actually asking them to shut-down their service, but to stop offering game files on their website.

    I mean I get it’s silly to try and deny people access to game files that EA doesn’t even offer anymore, but that by itself shouldn’t make it impossible for them to keep their project working is it ?

    Am I missing something here ?

    • April March says:

      Unless it is I who don’t understand it, EA considers running a server to be distributing the game for legal purposes, so forbade them from doing it.

      • fabronaut says:

        they weren’t just running the servers.. you could download the full games from the website portal.

        it was ballsier than any other revival / community project I’d ever seen. not all that surprising that EA got involved eventually. heck, they might’ve used it as free tacit publicity until the lawyers decided they had to pull the plug to defend their trademark / copyright.

        don’t they have to shut down anything that potentially infringes on trademark violation? not sure how it works because they’re not using the brand to try and sell a competing product… still kinda annoying.

  11. bigskot says:

    Or how about Battlefield Vietnam? Loved the soundtrack and the ability of the engineer to destroy enemy vehicles with the blowtorch! Or that crazy ability for the VC engineers to build “tunnels” and drop random spawnpoints. Cranking up the Jimmy Hendrix while flying that chopper loaded with guys headed to capture a flag was E P I C.

    • Stargazer86 says:

      Battlefield: Vietnam was definitely an overlooked game in the franchise. Flying the choppers was difficult but was very satisfying when you finally got the hang of them. Being able to pick up tanks with the Chinook was a hoot too.

      1942, BF2, Vietnam, and 2142 each had their own unique identities and fun moments. Bad Company 2 was fun as well although I didn’t quite like its narrower maps and smaller flight ceiling. Battlefield games nowadays feel rather homogenized and samey to me.

    • sosolidshoe says:

      Vietnam remains my favourite Battlefield game. A bit more advanced tech-wise than WW2, but still before all the tiresome “stick 20 rails and 98 attachments to your psuedoscifi murdergun” stuff you get in “modern” setting shooters.

      Also I was a dab hand at the transport Huey with my flightstick, I could come in full-tilt at a 45 degree angle music blasting away and use a quick spin maneuver to shed momentum and set down light as a feather, and I only crashed horribly into a tree or flagpole and killed all my passengers like, one-in-seven times :P

      • bigskot says:

        UGH… and those jungle maps where you went prone and guys passed right by you by what seemed like inches – goosebumps my friend, goosebumps.

  12. Ghostwise says:

    I’d imagine that anyone confused enough to not realise that Revive is an unofficial effort would have a higher opinion of EA than they might otherwise, but that’s just my conjecture.

    That’s good snark, and I say this as a snark connoisseur.

  13. starclaws says:

    If you read the notice… They don’t say to stop providing 3rd party hosting. Just stop distributing game client downloads and using their trademarks and logos. If they simply build a UI or a patch and refrained from said logos and trademarks and such, they could continue to exist. Think of Kali back in the day. 400 games and such on third party hosting and they ran for a long time.

  14. ludde says:

    That letter was painful to read. Condescending and pretentious. Someone’s obviously read the cease and desist Netflix sent to that Stranger Things-themed popup bar recently and thought they’d be quirky, cool and in if they mimicked it – only kinda forcing it.

    But hey, every opportunity for some PR is good opportunity for some PR, cease and desist or not. Aren’t they just the best?

  15. Ericusson says:

    I am always amazed to see there are still so many people willing to pay for EA titles.

  16. Rindan says:

    EA leaving Steam was the best thing to ever happen. It helps to keep me from accidentally buying EA games. That isn’t to say I’ll never buy an EA game, I just don’t do it casually. I just assume that the game is going to be garbage if it has the EA logo until proven conclusively otherwise. I even once forgot for a few moments, tried the Star Wars Battlefront monstrosity (thankfully free on the beta) and confirmed my opinion of EA.

    EA just loves to kill everything I love. Simcity, Mass Effect, and Battlefield (2) all took two in the back of the head from EA. What a garbage ass company. I’m always saddens when they gobble up a company I like. EA pretty much always inevitable runs them into the ground. What a piece of shit company.

  17. DragonOfTime says:

    For those wondering, the BattleForge revival project mentioned in the article can be found at skylords.eu

  18. Chaoslord AJ says:

    It’s all about the balance of power here. EA knows they can behave all they want but fanboys will still buy their games and provide for them.
    It would be all but logical for them to be required to keep the game servers up themselves instead of fans as they sold the product but noone’s complaining and still buying crap like Andromeda.
    I’d blame the customer.

  19. apa says:

    Related: link to forbes.com

    Forbes article listing all studios EA has shut down. Electronic Art of Destruction…

  20. flyfador says:

    EA’s fear was to be compared with ReviveNetwork?
    Oh I see, they didn’t wanted to be compared with a nice authentic organization that cares about fans to the core instead of sucking out their wallets like EA does… Now I see the point.

  21. Warduke says:

    Dammit!! This is like breaking my heart all over again.. had been meaning to fire up the Heroes version again… Hats off to the Revive team and all their efforts to keep these great games alive. I understand EA and others like Games Workshop wanting to protect their IP’s and reputation but really hate when they stomp on fan projects.. Big ole’ sad face :-(

  22. BolesnaPedercina says:

    Why are you so depressed? There is still a way to play BF2 Multiplayer online, without distributing a copyrighted game to everyone. For more information, visit BF2Hub.com
    Enjoy playing BF2 once again!

  23. Nibblet says:

    Kinda makes me wish i could boycott Ea twice.
    Perhaps i could start making mean faces as i continue to ignore them.

  24. galerios says:

    I created an account just to say this…
    EA are the biggest piece of shit money grubbing jerkbags in the history of video games. They don’t care about the fans of their games, they push complete crap with a shitton of overpriced dlc and now they file cease and desists on fans doing their best to keep the few good games they ever made running. I hope someone at EA sees this and feels even a little bit ashamed of themselves. I doubt it. And I doubt that if they did it would do much good. But I had to say it. Fuck you EA. I hope you’ve completely destroyed your entire fanbase with this move. But if Disney didn’t I guess you won’t either. There are always plenty of morons out there who will buy your garbage and there always will be. However any true gamers out there should boycott the shit out of EA until they lift this moronic cease and desist.

    • nickeltyme says:

      I too created this account just to agree with galerios whole heartedly. I’ve been a fan since the old bf2 and 1941. Since, they still can’t seem to give us the same game play such as commander. I also can’t afford a laptop that will play BF4, and BF2 is still my favorite game. I do have 1 & 4 on PS4, but it’s still not the same. Shame on you EA! I hate you so bad right now, and you’re never going to see another dime from me.

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