Funnily enough we were wondering what happened to Gamespy last week, it was always at the forefront of multiplayer gaming in the late nineties when it came to the Gamespy server browser client which was subsequently integrated directly in to games by developers for many of the top titles.
Gamespy was acquired by a Glu, a developer of freemium games for smartphone and tablets back in August. This slipped under most people’s radar, mainly because new titles no longer rely on the Gamespy technology for online multiplayer gameplay or matchmaking.
At the start of this month, fans of older games such as Sniper Elite, Hidden and Dangerous 2, Neverwinter Nights 1 & 2, Microsoft Flight Simulator X, Swat 4, and Star Wars Battlefront suddenly found there was no way to connect for online play. As these are older titles, most of this went unnoticed until today. Thanks to a post from Rebellion’s Steve Hart on the Sniper Elite forums, he explains exactly what has happened:
“A few weeks ago, the online multiplayer servers for Sniper Elite were suddenly switched off by Glu, the third-party service we had been paying to maintain them.
This decision by Glu was not taken in consultation with us and was beyond our control.For the past seven years we have run these servers at a cost to ourselves so that fans of Sniper Elite could continue to play online for free.
We have been talking to them since to try and get the servers turned back on. We have been informed that in order to do so would cost us tens of thousands of pounds a year – far in excess of how much we were paying previously. We also do not have the option to take the multiplayer to a different provider. Because the game relies on Glu and Gamespy’s middleware, the entire multiplayer aspect of the game would have to be redeveloped by us, again, at the cost of many tens of thousands of pounds.
While we are not happy about the situation, as an independent developer we simply do not have the resources to pay the massive costs of new servers along with redeveloping a seven-year-old game.
We share the disappointment of fans who have played the game since it was published in 2005. This is not something we intended or wanted to happen, but unfortunately it has been beyond our control. We have always looked to support our fan community and we hope the past seven years of free multiplayer service have been evidence of that – we’re sorry that the servers have been shut down in this way.
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We would like to thank all the fans who have continued to support Rebellion and Sniper Elite.”
Regardless of Glu’s motives, support for older games could simply vanish without any warning if publishers/developers don’t cough up the cash. This will be a huge disappointment for gamers who enjoy some of the older titles. A Gamespy emulator project perhaps? Anyone?