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Glu shuts Sniper Elite servers, without Rebellion's consent

Would cost UK dev "tens of thousands of pounds" to get them back again

UK developer Rebellion has apologised to fans that the servers for its title Sniper Elite have been shut down, and explained the decision was taken without its consent by publisher Glu.

"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," said Rebellion senior producer at Steve Hart in a statement to the community.

"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. This decision by Glu was not taken in consultation with us and was beyond our control."

The move seems to have been made by Glu, which owns multiplayer services provider Gamespy Technology,without any official announcements to users. Those users are also reporting that Hidden and Dangerous 2, Wings of War, SWAT 4, Neverwinter Nights titles, Star Wars: Battlefront and Flight Simulator X have suffered similar fates.

"We have been talking to [Glu] since to try and get the servers turned back on," continued Hart.

"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."

Angry fans of the affected games have started a new Facebook group "Get our Powered by Gamespy multplayer servers back" though so far it has only attracted 11 likes.

Last month Glu cut jobs at its Kirkland, Washington and San Francisco, California offices and closed its San Paulo, Brazil operations.

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Latest comments (6)

John Bye Lead Designer, Future Games of London3 years ago
Talk about a great way to put anyone off ever using your middleware again in future. Not to mention the hostility towards Glu and GameSpy this has created amongst players - the now rather ironically titled "Powered by GameSpy" page on Facebook has been absolutely deluged with posts from angry PC gamers complaining about various games being shut off.

And of course, this is coming on the back of Gree recently cutting off OpenFeint support at short notice. The options for multiplayer matchmaking services are rapidly shrinking.
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Stephen Woollard Online Infrastructure Specialist, Electronic Arts3 years ago
There have been many comments from people that the server code should be released to allow people to host their own servers, but unfortunately it's not as easy as that. Without the middleware there's nothing for those servers to connect to, no server browser, no way for players to log in, record and track stats or anything like that.

There's far more to playing a game online than the server itself. I suppose it would technically be possible to modify those titles so they could run without GameSpy, but as Rebellion already said, to do that would mean re-writing the game almost from the ground up and I dare say in many cases simply wouldn't be possible without a level of investment that couldn't be justified.

Having said all that, this could have been handled far better from a PR standpoint. A simple "sunset" announcement would have sufficed for the most part.
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John Bye Lead Designer, Future Games of London3 years ago
AFAIK it's not the servers that GameSpy were hosting, just the server lists. Certainly that was the case for Neverwinter Nights - all the games were hosted by players (either as clients or on their own dedicated servers), GameSpy was just keeping track of all the active games and the players in them, and sending that information to the in-game server browser when somebody searched for a game.

Luckily some game communities have apparently already managed to work around the shut down. Obviously that's not ideal though, as a lot of these games are still being sold through places like Steam and GOG and now have no multiplayer support "out of the box". But at least it means some of these games will live on for the more hardcore fans.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by John Bye on 10th December 2012 6:19pm

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Show all comments (6)
Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D3 years ago
Surely Rebellion should have had an agreement in place to cover any increase in the price it was charged? Reading the article, it sounds like Glu have simply asked for more money, Rebellion have said no, and Glu have said well, fine, no server for you then - I'd imagine this should have been covered in any agreement between the two and, if it wasn't, then somewhere some lawyer should be wondering if it was their fault.
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Jason Kingsley CEO and Creative Director, Rebellion3 years ago
Fran, you are simply wrong.
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Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D3 years ago
Jason - fair enough. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong. The article seems to say they've turned the servers off, and want more money to turn them back on - I'd have thought there would have been a mechanism to cover any price increase, but there we go. But then, you obviously know more than me about what's gone on, so fair enough - hope you get it sorted.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Fran Mulhern on 11th December 2012 9:35pm

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