Slashdot points to a recent open letter by UK game developer Rebellion explaining why the online multiplayer servers for Sniper Elite have suddenly disappeared, and why the studio can't change the situation. The letter follows numerous reports that GameSpy-based multiplayer support previously offered in numerous PC games have been disabled thanks to GameSpy's new owner, Glu Mobile.
According to the Slashdot report, GameSpy-reliant games like Neverwinter Nights 1 & 2, Microsoft Flight Simulator X, Swat 4, Sniper Elite, Hidden and Dangerous 2, Wings of War, Star Wars: Battlefront and many other older PC games can no longer find multiplayer games online. The only way some players can directly connect to servers is if they already know the IP address.
"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," Rebellion said. "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."
"We have been talking to them since to try and get the servers turned back on," the company added. "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."
Over on the Powered by GameSpy Facebook page, fans are venting their frustration over the new lack of multiplayer support in their favorite titles. "Good job losing anyone who still cared about you guys," wrote one Facebook user. "Facebook needs a dislike button," suggested another.
"I feel like we need to get a class action lawsuit filed over this," wrote one disgruntled gamer. "Some of these games are only a few years old and should not even qualify as 'classic'. What you are doing to these small developers and publishers is nothing short of blackmail and should be illegal. I don't know what kind of contract they had with you, but I would recommend any dev thinking about using your service invest in their own servers, or get a publisher with servers."
Rebellion said it shares the disappointment of fans who have played Sniper Elite since 2005. "This is not something we intended or wanted to happen, but unfortunately it has been beyond our control," the studio said. "We have always looked to support our fan community and we hope the past seven years of free multiplayer service have been evidence of that - we're sorry that the servers have been shut down in this way. We would like to thank all the fans who have continued to support Rebellion and Sniper Elite."
Glu Mobile, the developer of popular free-to-play games on Android and iOS, acquired GameSpy Technology from IGN Entertainment back in August 2012. The mobile developer will reportedly use the GameSpy tech, including the popular matchmaking, player statistics and leaderboards, in its mobile games. GameSpy is already integrated in Glu's Gun Bros Multiplayer on Android, launched in Q1 2012.
"Our acquisition of GameSpy brings Glu industry-recognized leadership in online, cross-platform technology infrastructure," said Niccolo de Masi, Chief Executive Officer of Glu. "GameSpy's battle-tested team will enable Glu's product roadmap to include robust and highly scalable multiplayer and social functionality."