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EA Server Shutdowns

EA announces its nearly annual list of online servers that are being shutdown (thanks Eurogamer). Word is The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth PC servers closed on December 31 as their licensing deal with Middle-earth Enterprises is expiring. They also announce The Sims Carnival will go offline on January 17, saying: "After January 16th 2011, you will not be able to access any content from The Sims Carnival. Any games that you may have created or modified or other content that you have created on the website will no longer be available to you. Also any embedded links to games on The Sims Carnival website will no longer function. We thank you for playing with us on The Sims Carnival. We hope you've enjoyed the site as much as we have and that we'll see you again in another great EA game!" Finally, they list a number of EA Sports game servers that will shutdown on February 8, with the closure of servers for Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 09 for Wii to follow on March 1, offering the following explanation:

As background information, the EA SPORTS™ games scheduled for shutdown in February and March 2011 represent roughly 1% of all peak online players across all EA titles. Despite some people's perception, there is a lot of behind-the-scenes work involved with keeping these older games up and running. We would rather our hard-working engineering and IT staff focus on keeping a positive experience for the other 99% of customers playing our more popular games. These decisions to retire games is never easy. The development teams and operational staff pour their hearts into these games almost as much as the customers playing them and it is hard to see one retired. We hope you have gotten many hours of enjoyment out of the games and we appreciate your ongoing patronage.

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45 Replies. 3 pages. Viewing page 1.
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45. Re: EA Server Shutdowns Jan 6, 2011, 19:14 Dev
 
Jerykk wrote on Jan 6, 2011, 04:18:
BFME used peer hosting like every other strategy game, didn't it? EA is just shutting down the master server but can't someone just make a new master server? They did that with the Tribes games after Vivendi shut them down.
But tribes was a cult hit. I don't think BFME is. I doubt there's enough people playing multiplayer on that enough for someone to bother.

BTW, they also announced the shutdown of BFME2.
 
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44. Re: EA Server Shutdowns Jan 6, 2011, 10:08 Ant
 
Prez wrote on Jan 6, 2011, 03:54:
A multiplayer game on PC should allow for community-run dedicated servers. Period. End of story.
Ditto. I wonder when C&C:G (or maybe it already did?), C&C3, etc. will be next.
 
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43. Re: EA Server Shutdowns Jan 6, 2011, 04:18 Jerykk
 
BFME used peer hosting like every other strategy game, didn't it? EA is just shutting down the master server but can't someone just make a new master server? They did that with the Tribes games after Vivendi shut them down.  
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42. Re: EA Server Shutdowns Jan 6, 2011, 03:54 Prez
 
A multiplayer game on PC should allow for community-run dedicated servers. Period. End of story.  
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“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
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41. Re: EA Server Shutdowns Jan 6, 2011, 01:57 Dev
 
merc248 wrote on Jan 6, 2011, 01:17:
You'd have to have at least one sysadmin, who would likely be paid $70-$100k/yr, along with the hardware, which, if say we're talking about ten servers, we're talking about dropping at least 1.5k per server every three years or so, so let's say another 15k every 3-5 years.
One sysadmin could run more than 10 servers, especially if they have a way to reboot and perhaps a way to re-image them when there's a problem. After all, if its an older game, some downtime to re-image isn't going to be that big of a deal (especially if the alternative is to lose them entirely like EA just did). I bet one sysadmin could run 100 servers once they were setup and running. Older games servers aren't likely to get many patches either (again the alternative is to shut them down entirely).

Also, why $1.5k a server? The server loads are going DOWN on older games, not up. So no need to upgrade them every 3 years. Only need to replace parts that fail, so figure a hard drive every now and then. Hard drives are way cheaper than $1.5k a server, even if you go with SAS. I think one could go with SATA if they raid them properly, fast SATA drives can handle a good load nowadays.
Maybe an occasional mobo or RAM stick, but those don't fail often, much less than $1.5k a server in 3 years.

Each server can run multiple games with a VM type setup, the main thing is going to be the internet pipe, modern server CPU's can handle quite a large load, and RAM (even server ram) is getting cheaper.

They are listing something like 30 games shutting down this year. My guess is with the player load, they could probably run multiple games in multiple instances to a server. I doubt it would cost them more than $1000 a year per game to keep it running (counting internet, electricity, salary, and computer parts). So whats that, $30k a year they are saving? EA brings in what, $4 billion a year? Even if I'm off by a factor of more than 3 and it costs them $100k per year to run all those games, EA can afford it easily. The COO and CEO are making $10+ million each with the options and stuff, take off 1% off of one of those to pay for it.
If you look at the financials, if I'm reading it right, EA says they have a mere $20 million in property and equipment (aka computers and buildings) across the entire company (not counting inventories). Which seems absurdly low to me looking at the rest so I must be missing something.
http://investor.ea.com/financials.cfm

I found very interesting though, the PC money vs the others. PC revenue makes up more than all the wireless platforms combined, even after including the phones. Also, PC is more than wii, and about 2/3rds as much as xbox 360 or ps3. So yeah, PC gaming is dead alright.


BTW, Battle for Middle Earth 2 is listed as going down as well, and I bought that direct from EA store less than a year ago.
 
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40. Re: EA Server Shutdowns Jan 6, 2011, 01:17 merc248
 
Golwar wrote on Jan 5, 2011, 21:00:
Hehe, sorry didn't want to make false assumptions or overly simplify that stuff. It's just that I wonder how expensive all this could be?

The fewer players, the less servers you need. If the software development is set to halt, you don't need to do any related new configuration. All that remains would be, imho, to maintain the hardware and run automated software procedures, for a reduced amount of servers.

If you could describe me what is so expensive that it outweights the regular negative PR they gain if they cancle 1-2 year old games, I'd gladly hear it.
Mind you, I support that they bury games that nobody plays anymore.

Eh, I suppose if you're talking in terms of negative PR, then I don't think the sysadmin/dev time could ever amount to the loss you'd get on PR.

You'd have to have at least one sysadmin, who would likely be paid $70-$100k/yr, along with the hardware, which, if say we're talking about ten servers, we're talking about dropping at least 1.5k per server every three years or so, so let's say another 15k every 3-5 years.

Server maintenance can still be tricky and quite unglamorous - no one else wants to do it, and there's strangeness abound in this art. But overall, I agree with you, either spend some time/money to get a ready to use server binary out there for people to use, or continue maintaining the servers with a skeleton crew.
 
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39. Re: EA Server Shutdowns Jan 5, 2011, 22:43 Burrito of Peace
 
JohnnyRotten wrote on Jan 5, 2011, 19:44:

Yeah, the original post could be summed up as "internet lawyer making shit up". Free is NOT automatically equal to releasing into the public domain.

Or it could be more accurately summed up as gained experience based on working very hard as part of an internal team to get an MMO that was sunsetted released to the fans who wanted to run their own servers.

Then the lawyers got involved and that's the word that was given.
 
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38. Re: EA Server Shutdowns Jan 5, 2011, 21:46 Jivaro
 
Minuit wrote on Jan 5, 2011, 19:48:
I can't wait for the day when a game company gets created, where the leads and designers are gamers themselves, make games for the people, by the people

Back in 1982 a man named Trip Hawkins had exactly that idea. He felt that the software industry was treating game developers like anonymous drones instead of the Rock Stars that they really were so he started his own company, recruited some of the best talent in the field, redesigned the traditional game box to look like an album with the names and photos of the programmers right on the cover and even gave the programmers a huge share of the profits. He started a revolution in computer gaming and brought us some of the most amazing games of the era.

Oh, and the name of the company? It was Electronic Arts.

That history reminder is ironic indeed.
 
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37. Re: EA Server Shutdowns Jan 5, 2011, 21:00 Golwar
 
merc248 wrote on Jan 5, 2011, 14:50:
Golwar wrote on Jan 5, 2011, 11:23:
The only delicate phase should be with new or updated software, when they must assure that it runs with an acceptable quality.
Once when they managed that the software runs, all they do is backup and reset.

That's a load of crap.

I work as a sysadmin myself (and I like working within the culture of "DevOps" - Google it if you want an explanation on what it is), but the fact of the matter is, server maintenance is still required, even if you have an easy way of simply doing backups and resetting servers. From what I've seen, even if you adopt a methodology that allows for failures to happen, there's still going to be one or two servers that absolutely cannot go down for too long.

Hehe, sorry didn't want to make false assumptions or overly simplify that stuff. It's just that I wonder how expensive all this could be?

The fewer players, the less servers you need. If the software development is set to halt, you don't need to do any related new configuration. All that remains would be, imho, to maintain the hardware and run automated software procedures, for a reduced amount of servers.

If you could describe me what is so expensive that it outweights the regular negative PR they gain if they cancle 1-2 year old games, I'd gladly hear it.
Mind you, I support that they bury games that nobody plays anymore.
 
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36. Re: EA Server Shutdowns Jan 5, 2011, 20:35 BurntSoul
 
If anyone cares: I found out that the remaining fans of The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth (and LotR: BFME II and LotR: BFME II, RotWK) have pitched their last stand, and are now using GameRanger to play against each other.

Better than nothing, I guess.
 
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35. Re: EA Server Shutdowns Jan 5, 2011, 19:48 Minuit
 
I can't wait for the day when a game company gets created, where the leads and designers are gamers themselves, make games for the people, by the people

Back in 1982 a man named Trip Hawkins had exactly that idea. He felt that the software industry was treating game developers like anonymous drones instead of the Rock Stars that they really were so he started his own company, recruited some of the best talent in the field, redesigned the traditional game box to look like an album with the names and photos of the programmers right on the cover and even gave the programmers a huge share of the profits. He started a revolution in computer gaming and brought us some of the most amazing games of the era.

Oh, and the name of the company? It was Electronic Arts.
 
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34. Re: EA Server Shutdowns Jan 5, 2011, 19:44 JohnnyRotten
 
Dev wrote on Jan 5, 2011, 14:04:
No surprise that EA still is doing this. They've done it pretty much every year. If its so incredibly expensive to keep a game server up (which I doubt, I mean they could just run 50 servers in VMware setups), then how about if they do proper dedicated server setups so people can run their own servers? Then all they need to do is run a master server list, and even that can be changed as times move on. Like valve redid the server stuff (including the master server list setup) for half life 1 and CS when steam came out.

The Advocate wrote on Jan 5, 2011, 11:51:
Verno wrote on Jan 5, 2011, 11:36:

So what would be the business excuse for not releasing the server executables then?

Protection of intellectual property rights. If you give the methodology of an ongoing process or tangible good away for free, then there is the possibility that, in a court of law, it can be construed that you have released it in to the public domain.

Whether those of us that live in reality see it that way or not, it's all about covering your ass legally.

After all, you can't terrorize and sue the shit out of Grandma for "piracy" if your property has been deemed to be in the public domain.
So that means that every single freeware and shareware program (and hey even demos!) are automatically in public domain and no one owns the copyright on them since they are given away for free? Wow cool, because if stuff is in the public domain, I can just repackage it and sell it as my own and then I own the copyright. I'm gonna be a millionaire then.

Yeah, the original post could be summed up as "internet lawyer making shit up". Free is NOT automatically equal to releasing into the public domain.
 
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33. Re: EA Server Shutdowns Jan 5, 2011, 19:00 StingingVelvet
 
Optional nickname wrote on Jan 5, 2011, 17:04:
I can't wait for the day when a game company gets created, where the leads and designers are gamers themselves, make games for the people, by the people, and shuts EA down for good. (along with their servers)
Beancounters. But millions more will buy BF and Sims, so EA isn't going anywhere soon, but more up.

As soon as that company wanted to make more money than the baseline they would do the same shit EA does.
 
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32. Re: EA Server Shutdowns Jan 5, 2011, 17:04 Optional nickname
 
I can't wait for the day when a game company gets created, where the leads and designers are gamers themselves, make games for the people, by the people, and shuts EA down for good. (along with their servers)
Beancounters. But millions more will buy BF and Sims, so EA isn't going anywhere soon, but more up.
 
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31. Re: EA Server Shutdowns Jan 5, 2011, 16:13 Zardoz5
 
Verno wrote on Jan 5, 2011, 14:31:
Zardoz5 wrote on Jan 5, 2011, 14:29:
StingingVelvet wrote on Jan 5, 2011, 13:38:
Imagine the day Battlefield 2 shuts down.

I keep checking for 1942 on these lists as its most likely the one to be shutdown first. I'm glad they haven't shutdown the master servers for 1942 or Vietnam yet as I like to go play a few rounds every now and then.

Someone pointed out to me in the past on here that most of those old BF games are on lifetime contracts with Gamespy and I think the contracts were established pre-EA buyout.

That would be great. I can't see how it could cost much to keep these games running since their are no stats to track, unlocks to track, etc.
 
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30. Re: EA Server Shutdowns Jan 5, 2011, 14:50 merc248
 
Golwar wrote on Jan 5, 2011, 11:23:
The only delicate phase should be with new or updated software, when they must assure that it runs with an acceptable quality.
Once when they managed that the software runs, all they do is backup and reset.

That's a load of crap.

I work as a sysadmin myself (and I like working within the culture of "DevOps" - Google it if you want an explanation on what it is), but the fact of the matter is, server maintenance is still required, even if you have an easy way of simply doing backups and resetting servers. From what I've seen, even if you adopt a methodology that allows for failures to happen, there's still going to be one or two servers that absolutely cannot go down for too long.
 
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29. Re: EA Server Shutdowns Jan 5, 2011, 14:31 Verno
 
Zardoz5 wrote on Jan 5, 2011, 14:29:
StingingVelvet wrote on Jan 5, 2011, 13:38:
Imagine the day Battlefield 2 shuts down.

I keep checking for 1942 on these lists as its most likely the one to be shutdown first. I'm glad they haven't shutdown the master servers for 1942 or Vietnam yet as I like to go play a few rounds every now and then.

Someone pointed out to me in the past on here that most of those old BF games are on lifetime contracts with Gamespy and I think the contracts were established pre-EA buyout.
 
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28. Re: EA Server Shutdowns Jan 5, 2011, 14:29 Zardoz5
 
StingingVelvet wrote on Jan 5, 2011, 13:38:
Imagine the day Battlefield 2 shuts down.

I keep checking for 1942 on these lists as its most likely the one to be shutdown first. I'm glad they haven't shutdown the master servers for 1942 or Vietnam yet as I like to go play a few rounds every now and then.
 
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27. Re: EA Server Shutdowns Jan 5, 2011, 14:20 Jivaro
 
You are right of course Verno, its not an action taken with the customers best interests at heart. If it were, they would be letting people run their own dedicated servers in the first place. As long as gamers keep buying their games though, the practice is still a profitable one.

As some one else said, if gamers feel that strongly about it, don't buy their stuff. It isn't like there isn't plenty of games competing for our entertainment dollars out there. Of course, that isn't going to happen...gamers, generally speaking, "protest" about as well as a meth addict quits...and as infrequently.
 
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26. Re: EA Server Shutdowns Jan 5, 2011, 14:04 Dev
 
No surprise that EA still is doing this. They've done it pretty much every year. If its so incredibly expensive to keep a game server up (which I doubt, I mean they could just run 50 servers in VMware setups), then how about if they do proper dedicated server setups so people can run their own servers? Then all they need to do is run a master server list, and even that can be changed as times move on. Like valve redid the server stuff (including the master server list setup) for half life 1 and CS when steam came out.

The Advocate wrote on Jan 5, 2011, 11:51:
Verno wrote on Jan 5, 2011, 11:36:

So what would be the business excuse for not releasing the server executables then?

Protection of intellectual property rights. If you give the methodology of an ongoing process or tangible good away for free, then there is the possibility that, in a court of law, it can be construed that you have released it in to the public domain.

Whether those of us that live in reality see it that way or not, it's all about covering your ass legally.

After all, you can't terrorize and sue the shit out of Grandma for "piracy" if your property has been deemed to be in the public domain.
So that means that every single freeware and shareware program (and hey even demos!) are automatically in public domain and no one owns the copyright on them since they are given away for free? Wow cool, because if stuff is in the public domain, I can just repackage it and sell it as my own and then I own the copyright. I'm gonna be a millionaire then.

This comment was edited on Jan 5, 2011, 14:10.
 
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