Free-to-play gameshow MOBA-shooter Super Monday Night Combat will shut down when the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force later this month, developers Uber Entertainment have told us, because the cost of reworking it to be compliant would just be too high. A perfectly normal and seemingly above-board game shutting down is a curious knock-on effect of new privacy laws, and raised a few eyebrows when Uber first announced this on Thursday, but it's understandable. SMNC is six years old and its playerbase is tired: over the past month, SMNC peaked at only two dozen players in-game at the same time.
The GDPR is a new data privacy law which aims to protect EU citizens in a number of ways. It'll let us demand data be wiped from records with the "right to be forgotten", let people demand access to copies of personal data companies have on us, and generally require companies to do a whole lot more to give us privacy and keep our data safe. Companies which breach the GDPR can face fines of many millions of pounds (well, Euros). See this for a quick primer. I'll miss you like hell, EU Parliament.
Though Uber Entertainment are based in the USA, they still need to comply with the GDPR when dealing with EU citizens. The problem, Uber explained to me, was down to SMNC using an old version of their Ubernet platform for its backend.
"The changes needed to allow us to meet the specifications of the GDPR would mean we either need to rewrite large parts of Ubernet or port the game to run on Playfab [a backend platform owned by Microsoft]. We've tried to keep the game going as long as we could as it was break even or close to break even on monthly server costs up until now, but both of these options are unfortunately out of range of the budget we have set aside for Super MNC.
"We'll keep playable for as long as we are legally allowed to, but the day GDPR hits, we'll pull it down so as to be in compliance."
Super Monday Night Combat's servers will be online through May 23rd then shut down ahead of the GDPR deadline on the 24th (it comes into effect on May 25th). The game will become unplayable in all modes, leaving it dead. As a going-away present, Uber will give a big wodge of in-game cash who get in touch with their support department.
It's always a shame when a game dies, even if it is understandable, and is lost to posterity.
Uber aren't the only company having trouble with the GDPR. Several free-to-play MMOs, including Ragnarok Online and Dragon Saga, are will also shut down due to the GDPR. Their western publisher has announced that they will start region-blocking Europeans by IP. And some have speculated that the recent Steam privacy changes, which had the knock-on effect of locking out SteamSpy, are down to the GDPR. I suspect we'll hear from more games and companies over the coming weeks.