After nearly four years of multiplayer fun, the party is over for MAG and SOCOM 4: Sony is shutting down the online servers in January. True, they supported these games well beyond what other companies are willing to do, but Sony, and everyone else, needs to let multiplayer run free on private servers, especially now.
It’s Another Revenue Stream
It’s odd how much money game publishers, in particular, leave on the table, but this seems a no-brainer. If you want to set up a private server for the game, you tend to need the game to do that. True, a publisher who isn’t totally evil could have server software available online for a nominal fee, such as $5. And the overall cash from that wouldn’t save a bad quarter.
But it would still be money coming in the door, something the gaming industry has been complaining, loudly and at length, just isn’t happening nearly often enough. Well, give us stuff that we want, guys, and we’ll probably buy it.
Vital Components Of Games, And Sometimes Entire Games, Can Be Saved From Destruction
One of the problems of multiplayer-heavy games is that they’re viewed as disposable. Sony actually hit a new height with this announcement: This might mark the first time a disc-based game has been bricked. MAG, being multiplayer-only, will essentially cease to exist come January. Too bad for you, guy who bought it for $60 and wants to pick it up again.
Online multiplayer is, in some cases, the entire reason a game is popular and in some games essentially the game itself. Nobody plays the Call of Duty series until their console wears out because of the rich, deep, compelling single-player campaign. Imagine a kid trying to boot up Dad’s PS3 a decade from now and discovering all his games basically don’t work because they relied on corporate servers and a proprietary network.
It Gives Players More Control Over Who They Play With
A day or so ago I got coerced by a friend into joining a multiplayer match on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Against my better judgement, I also let said friend recruit some people he kinda knew for the match, and they brought their friends. It went poorly, as my multiplayer experiences always seem to do, to the point where I’m still not sure if what I experienced was something that actually happened, or a prank.
It’s not a secret that multiplayer has a pretty large share of jerks, and while there are more and more tools for dealing with them, the simple fact of the matter is that a private server means you can just lock out people you don’t want to talk to. It would also give parents a bit more control, although why an eight-year-old is playing Call of Duty is a separate conversation.
It’s A Simple Way To Please Fans
OK, so we’re not going to see mass riots. SOCOM and MAG fans aren’t going to storm Sony’s headquarters and carry out the IT department’s heads on pikes. But they’re still disappointed and angry, and why shouldn’t they be? Yeah, Sony may not be making money on these servers, but how is that their problem? They bought a game to play with friends, and they want to play it. Why take that away?
So, Sony, Microsoft, publishers… set the games free.