Evolve shutting down dedicated servers and F2P version

2K plans have announced plans to largely end Evolve, the 4v1 monster-hunting first-person shooter from Left 4 Dead creators Turtle Rock Studios, though it will remain playable in a way. Evolve first launched in February 2015, then relaunched as the free-to-play Evolve Stage 2 in July 2016. 2K plan to shut down Evolve Stage 2 in September, though people who bought the original will be able to play ‘Legacy Evolve’ – without dedicated servers. This is one of those whimperends you’ll hear poets going on about.

The shutdown will come in two stages. On July 3rd, 2K will stop selling microtransaction currency bundles. Unlocked characters and skins will carry over to Legacy Evolve so, maybe you’d like to dress fancy as you cling to the husk of the game. On September 3rd, 2K will shut down the dedicated servers, close the in-game store, and end Evolve Stage 2.

After that, people “who own a retail copy of Evolve” will be able to switch to Legacy Evolve. It won’t have dedicated servers, Ranked Hunt mode, or leaderboards, but solo play with bots and multiplayer over peer-to-peer connections will still work. P2P is always a bit wonky in fast FPSs, so it is a bit of a sorry state to live on in. It sounds like free-to-players will be left out in the cold, which is a bummer, especially given that they could have paid a fair bit into it. Some third-party stores and key resellers still seem to be selling Evolve, if you really want to continue.

2K don’t say why they’re shutting it down, but I don’t feel off the mark guessing that it simply wasn’t making enough money for them to think it worth keeping up. They had already stopped commissioning content updates from Turtle Rock in October 2016, so its fate seemed clear.

Poor Evolve. It was promising but a little off the mark, as our Alec said in the conclusion to his Evolve review.

“Don’t underestimate how clever and how careful Evolve is, and just how many deeply different elements it genuinely manages to balance. But sadly that#s not backed up by a huge amount of personality. As I said in parts one and two, the Hunters’ characters are thin and overly tropey, while the bestiary never quite explodes into the craziness it arguably needs.

“Between that and the front-loaded, thunder-stealing unlocks, I feel that Evolve is an extremely well-observed and ambitious multiplayer game which repeatedly shoots itself in the foot, and for reasons far more profound than the DLC that the internet’s so cross about. I admire Evolve far more than I like it, but I admire it a lot.”

Though I was a little put off by 2K brazenly launching a game $60 with a load of DLC already on sale – and not even included with its DLC season pass. I ended up picking Evolve up a little later, I think, when it was already near death. Going F2P helped revitalise the playerbase, and the game still peaks at five or six hundred concurrent players, but 2K blew the launch spectacularly.

For now, you can still play Evolve Stage 2 free-to-play through Steam.

Turtle Rock announced in December 2016 that they were making a mysterious new “dark fantasy” free-to-play cooperative FPS with Perfect World Entertainment, though 18 months later we’ve not heard much more about that. E3 is next week, so that might be a good time to announce something. Assuming it’s still a thing.

20 Comments

  1. rocketman71 says:

    And that, kids, is why you don’t buy games that don’t support LAN and don’t release public dedicated servers.

    Even closing the game, they will only release some shitty P2P. Shame on you, 2K.

    • MajorFordson says:

      So how long should a game studio spend money keeping deserted servers alive, long after a game has stopped producing income for the studio?

      • obowersa says:

        In an ideal world, they wouldn’t need to.

        It’s worth mentioning that yes there are trade offs, and that spending development time creating a dedicated server folk can run themselves or implementing LAN support ( given how rare LAN gaming is ) isn’t necessarily providing value to most players and potentially opens up a whole host of security concerns.

        With all that said. About a week ago a couple of friends and I were reminiscing about some of our earlier non-mud multi-player games. An hour or two later and some port forwarding shenanigans and we were playing Unreal Tournament, followed by AvP and a couple of other older games.

        That ability to just spin up and play a game almost 20 years on, with a bunch of friends, is wonderful. It’s also completely pointless to most companies bottom line.

        There’s an interesting topic around here which touches on a wider set of issues. Archiving. Without going into too much detail and boring everyone the world of archiving is fascinating.

        There’s some really interesting conversations and discussions going on about archiving video games and the challenges involved both technologically and legally. Especially when factored into various UK laws about the legal requirement to archive certain types of media.

        Well worth a dig into if anyones interested. It presents an interesting problem though that so many games, which are culturally important items of media from an archiving perspective, will be completely unusable to future researchers/public in the event they do get archived.

      • BobbyDylan says:

        Ummm…. The OP’s statement is the result to the “conundrum” you pose. It’s odd, to see the answer before I see the question.

        • Asurmen says:

          How is it?

          • April March says:

            If a dev allows community servers, they don’t (necessarily) need to spend money on servers; even if they shut down the service, the community can keep it playable.

            This was the point the first poster made, to which the other poster replied clearly without reading.

          • Asurmen says:

            I read both and I fully got what the second poster was saying. Their question is still valid.

      • Cederic says:

        At least two years after the last sale.

        Or just provide the ability for people to host their own server. That way you don’t even need to provide LAN support, as someone can set up a LAN game by hosting a server on the LAN and preventing external access.

        This isn’t hard. It used to be the standard approach. It’s only the last few years when companies wanted to monetise the online play (instead of making their money selling a good game) that it’s been impossible to self-host.

        It’s a major factor in my massively reduced online gaming.

        • po says:

          It’s a major factor in why I don’t play online PvP any more.

          When the publishers took away our ability to run our own servers (and make them either online or LAN, just by fiddling with our router’s firewall), they also stopped us from exercising our Freedom of Association – our right to choose who we play with.

          Ever since the death of the private server, both cheating and toxic players have become an ever increasing problem online.

          At least when you were in control of choosing who played on your own server, rather than having to hope the publishers can be bothered to make any effort in policing what goes on on theirs, bad behavior could be dealt with promptly, instead of having to make a report and hope someone did anything about it, while you have to put up with match after match of aimbotters, and obnoxious people spamming comms.

          And if you didn’t like how someone ran their server, there were plenty of others, including ones where cheats or any kind of modding would be accepted. If not, then you could always set up your own, without the publisher charging through the nose for a private server identical to everyone else’s, because they no longer provide anywhere near the amount of customisation they used to.

      • Don Reba says:

        For as long as the copyright to the game is active, after which point the community can take over.

      • Daemoroth says:

        Remind me again, how did this whole idea of games only having servers hosted by the publishing company come about?

        Last time I checked, it was the pubs/devs who stopped supporting LAN/personal dedicated servers in favour of controlling the hosting side of things. So how is it our problem if that’s not making them money?

        If you bought UT, you got the main install, and a dedicated server install with it. Anyone could host a server, which meant keeping UT alive didn’t cost Epic a cent as long as fan servers were available.

        Publishers/devs decided to stop allowing the users to host their own servers, so THEY have taken on the responsibility of providing those servers. Somehow saying they are justified now in ending such a service because they don’t see a benefit is quite a lot of BS.

        If they instead released their dedicated server hosting software publicly, hosting servers would stop costing them anything, even though they’d STILL make money off any sales.

        • po says:

          And it’s not like they can’t sell DLC when people are hosting their own servers. Back when I was playing BF2, just about everyone with the resources to run more than 1 server instance would have one running vanilla plus expansion maps, and another running one of the big modpacks. In fact very few of the servers in the browser were pure vanilla, so if you wanted to play online, you really needed to buy the official expansions.

          And players didn’t need cosmetics to waste their time over. What they wanted was regularly released new maps, so as long as the expansions had ones of reasonable quality, people would buy them, as well as downloading a ton of maps made by modders.

          Of course everything went to s*** when EA released BF2142, and wanted everyone to switch over and play that instead, so they could sell expansions for it too. Too many kept playing BF2, so EA stopped releasing updates for it (leaving in bugs that would cause network issues, and the ‘dolphin-diving’ exploit, where players would be immune to damage for several animation frames if they jumped, went prone and then fell to the ground). Then the next installment of the Battlefield series after 2142 didn’t have a private server executable.

          If EA weren’t such a bunch of d***s, they would have made 2142 an expansion to 2 (which would have been an expansion to 42), along with Vietnam, so that there was only ever one Battlefield game, with graphics updates, that had an ever increasing amount of content, kind of like how WoW gets its expansions rolled into the base purchase over time, and you get ever more to do in it. Or if you want a shooter that does that, look at Warframe. You don’t need to screw over players of an existing game, by ending support for it after they’ve spent a lot of money on it, and forcing them to spend all over again on something that you’re also only going to support for a couple of years.

          If you’ve planned to release a game with long term support, and no separate sequels, then players are far more likely to stick around when they see you’re not doing the whole box+DLC+microtrasactions>dump>repeat scam, but are actually fixing issues, and planning to make their purchase worth it in the long run (and we are talking F2P games here too, so they are respecting prospective purchases in a lot of cases).

          Thats what makes an F2P game work, respecting the people who don’t pay, because of what they do bring to your game, namely people to fill multiplayer matches, that your game will die without. Drive away players with too much exclusive content, just because they haven’t spent a penny, and your F2P game will die.

          And then when you have a game that’s going to be running for a very long foreseeable future, player run dedicated servers are much less of a concern (and looking at WoW, given the time, players will work out how to make their own anyway), although they really could do with a comeback, for the sake of modding.

    • Cloak says:

      And are over hyped “competitive” garbage.

  2. rustybroomhandle says:

    This never had a chance to succeed. It was apparent from the first promotion. I wish I could declare myself some kind of business clairvoyant for seeing it, but I got the idea that this was the general consensus.

  3. Peksisarvinen says:

    This is a fate I wish upon all games that share the absolutely abhorrent DLC policies of Evolve. If you see your potential players as nothing but walking bags of money, don’t be surprised if they don’t like you or your game.

    • po says:

      When all the reviews are pretty much saying ‘There’s not much to do after the first few hours, and it looks like they’re planning to charge for anything they add later’, your game is dead on arrival. You can’t easily undo that amount of bad press, and you can’t sell a $60 demo, but that’s what some publishers are trying to do.

      Some of these people really need to get their heads out of their backsides, instead of thinking that just because they have made it in game development, they know what the players want in a game.

      In fact the best thing a game dev could do between projects is to play a shitload of other games, and read their forums to really get a handle on what pisses players off.

  4. Asurmen says:

    The DLC issues never bothered me. Buy it, don’t buy it. I don’t care. However, the beta showed me all the gameplay that was available. It had a low skill ceiling, and I thought I’d seen all the variations of the moment to moment gameplay that was available.
    It just didn’t have enough to warrant buying it, or even playing it when it went F2P.

  5. Mindkontrol says:

    This still has me sad. I got this day 1 and had a fricken BLAST with it for a couple months. I moved on to something else, but was really sad with how fast the game died. I do get it, the hunter side of things tragically fell flat often, as it required such precision from each member of the team, and one moron not doing their job could make for a quick end with even a moderately skilled monster opponent. Long live the Kraken!

  6. Ham Solo says:

    I expected this far sooner tbh. They tried to milk it and failed horribly. No wonder people stayed away after that. F2P is not always the lifeboat it seems to be.

  7. ChucklesNuts says:

    Turtle Rock had No business releasing this game in the state it was released in. Thousands of beta testers told the devs to fix the Monster and how it could perpetually run and snacks and run and snack repeatedly to win the game EVERY TIME.

    It was absolutely broken from the start. and never fixed to make it fair for the hunters. Would have been better to make the Monster an AI or even given the option for it. Or just make it a 5 person coop and have the Monster being chosen at random and rotate around till all 5 coop players get a chance at it.

    But no they missed many opportunities. Just like Destiny 2 and its 3 player coop. I personally don’t get how a number should limit coop. Several games like 7 days to die, the forest, space engineers, and killing floor 2 all have 6 or more player coop.

    Or virtually unlimited. There a limited of good examples and possibilities on how Evolve could have been better. And there is a long list of games my coop crew has either been horribly disappointed in or just completely abandoned or forgotten about due to devs not making it engaging, balanced and enjoyable for all members.

    Sad to see this game go like this, it had potential. RIP Evolve 2018

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