EA Shuts Down 13 Game Servers, Including Recent Titles

EA has announced it intends to shut down a number of game servers, thus terminating online play for a total of thirteen titles. The company's justification for the move is that it allows the game publisher to focus resources on the most popular products. The recent service update reads:
The decisions to retire older EA games are 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.  But as games get replaced with newer titles, the number of players still enjoying the older games dwindles below a point -- fewer than 1% of all peak online players across all EA titles -- where it’s feasible to continue the behind-the-scenes work involved with keeping these 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.  We hope you have gotten many hours of enjoyment out of the games and we appreciate your ongoing patronage.
Titles affected include:
  • Army of Two (PS3, XBox 360)
  • Battlefield 2: Modern Combat (XBox 360)
  • Medal of Honor Airborne (PSP)
  • Medal of Honor Heroes 2 (PSP, Wii)
  • NASCAR 09 (PS3, XBox 360)
  • NCAA Basketball 10 (PS3, Xbox 360)
  • NCAA Football 10 (PS3, Xbox 360)
  • Need For Speed: Most Wanted (PC, XBox 360)
  • Need For Speed: Undercover (PSP)
  • SKATE (PS3, XBox 360)
  • Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 (PSP, PS3, XBox 360, Wii)
The above will close on August 11; Madden NFL 10 and NHL 10 will shut down on October 1. Army of Two is one of the older titles mentioned--it launched in March of 2008--but some titles, like NHL 10, will barely be two years old when their servers go offline. Consoles are often touted as superior gaming platforms over PCs thanks to their longevity, but EA's decision to shut down titles so quickly ironically works against this idea.

Army of Two was built on cooperative play, but the online option isn't going to be available any longer

It's one thing to buy an older sports title realizing that it doesn't incorporate the latest changes to team rosters or offer the same features as a newer version. Taking online play out after two years makes it much more difficult to claim the game has held its value. we're not claiming EA's motivation here is to prevent GameStop from making money, but it's possible this is yet another move by game publishers to weaken the used games market.

The issue is complicated somewhat by the fact that every sports franchise update offers a moderately different experience than the game that came before it. Loving one version of Madden doesn't automatically guarantee you'll love the next iteration; shutting down servers so quickly makes it impossible for players to hang on to much-loved titles--at least, not if they want to play online.