It feels like every year, we go through this ritual. It dawns on EA that, holy crap, gamers eventually stop playing games online, and EA decides to focus its resources elsewhere. Which kind of stinks, as a rule, but generally it makes sense: as EA points out, less than 1% of all players across all of EA’s games were playing online with the titles they’re shutting down.
On the other hand, that also raises a few questions about consumer rights and DLC.
For example, if you enjoyed the topless dancers and blackjack in “The Saboteur”‘s “The Midnight Show”, that’s gone once the servers shut down in April, so hope you got your money’s worth. If you bought “EA Sports MMA” used and paid for an Online Pass, you officially got rooked out of ten bucks.
Which to us raises a few questions. For example, “Mass Effect 3″ has multiplayer as a fairly key component; to get the best ending without having to navigate some fairly tricky waters (like uploading a perfect game from the last two in the series), you have to play Galaxy at War. What happens to that game once the servers are shut down? Does anybody coming to the game two years later get a little note saying “Thanks for paying $20 for this game and, oh, by the way, HA HA!”
We get that EA doesn’t want to spend money on something no one uses: that’s just basic business acumen. On the other hand, if you’re not going to maintain the servers, why do you make DLC and multiplayer so integral to so many games?
Instead, EA, consider this: working out a server architecture that fans can take over once you don’t want to. Split the money from DLC with the fan-run servers beyond a certain point. That way, everybody gets the full play experience and, who knows? It might help some older games find a new audience.