GRID online multiplayer meets early demise on PC

Allowing users to host dedicated multiplayer servers was once a staple of the PC gaming scene. Such freedom is rare these days, which is a real shame. As Bruno highlighted in his 10 commandments of PC gaming post, dedicated servers are desirable because they allow for user customization, private parties, and swift justice when it comes to administration and moderation.

There’s one more reason why user-hosted dedicated servers are important for multiplayer games on any platform. If servers aren’t hosted by the players themselves, publishers are free to pull the plug as they see fit. That just happened with GRID, whose online component has been shuttered for the PC and PlayStation 3. As an official post in the GRID forums reveals, the end of online multiplayer for those platforms was prompted by a "third-party provider" declining to extend its contract with Codemasters. Xbox 360 versions of GRID are unaffected, although it’s unclear whether server hosting for Microsoft’s console was handled by the same provider.

As the forum post points out, GRID was released just three years ago. The game might not be the freshest one out there, but it’s hardly stale enough to excuse gutting the online component. Codemasters isn’t as apologetic as one might expect given the circumstances, either. If publishers remain intent on preventing users from running dedicated servers, they should be more forthcoming about how long official multiplayer support will last before it can be yanked by a third-party provider.

Comments closed
    • standingmammoth
    • 11 years ago

    On Sarcasm III in the Irony system…

    • BobbinThreadbare
    • 11 years ago

    [quote<]Having phone home DRM[/quote<] Steam has been far less intrusive than any other form of DRM publishers have come up with for me. I never sell my games though. [quote<]having to run steam in the background[/quote<] This is mildly annoying, but I have 8 gigs of ram now. [quote<]and getting kicked out of your game if you lose connection to steam(but not the game server) is pretty crap.[/quote<] I've been in TF2 and L4D games and lost connection to steam and continued to play just fine. [quote<]Then after all that they have the balls to charge full price for their games, at least on release.[/quote<] They are actually not allowed to undercut in store price that publishers set. When Valve started self publishing they did cut prices pretty well. I got both L4D games close to release for about 30 bucks each.

    • odizzido
    • 11 years ago

    Try just leaving it in offline mode and see how long it will let you play.

    edit—–

    I have about 1300 hours of experience with steam games.

    • atryus28
    • 11 years ago

    Who says everyone has owned the game for 3 years? What if you just bought it recently with the sales they had going on. Then it’s less than a few months for some.

    • atryus28
    • 11 years ago

    UUmmm don’t know how much you really know about steam but you do NOT need to be online to run steam and steam games. IF news was coming down the pike that they were going to shut down the service you could prepare for it. Download all your games (which you can do now and store them else where for later.) and make sure they are patched. Then put it in offline mode. Online games will still work when steam is in offline mode.

    My son is way too young to have his own steam account so I purchase the games on my account for him to play. I download the game (or if I already have it copy it to his steam folder with needed files) tell it to “download” the game, which it then immediately finishes. I then put his “steam” in offline mode. We play racing games against each on LAN play all the time, even when I am in online or offline mode. I have used my games on the net as well while in offline mode. So really it only sucks if you use all the steam community features which I do not use. So if you are really skirmy about it leave steam in offline mode. I have also started games without steam running and several times it has not turned on and stayed running.

    • odizzido
    • 11 years ago

    He kicked everyones cat, it’s just nobody seems to care. Having phone home DRM, having to run steam in the background, and getting kicked out of your game if you lose connection to steam(but not the game server) is pretty crap.

    Then after all that they have the balls to charge full price for their games, at least on release. Aren’t they saving a bunch of money on distribution costs? How are their games often more expensive than amazon which has to have someone make the CDs, box, manual, etc, then ship it to their warehouse, and then pay someone to bring it to your door?

    Steam does have some good things like nice access to demos and such, but putting a tasty mint on a turd doesn’t make the turd much better.

    • odizzido
    • 11 years ago

    Sure, if you trust them to do that. I agree that the rental is long term though so I am willing to pay up to $10 or so for their games.

    • burntham77
    • 11 years ago

    No, PC games is alive and well.

    • mcnabney
    • 11 years ago

    On what planet does a controller beat a mouse/kb when playing an FPS?

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 11 years ago

    This wasn’t just the plug on the pc going out, but also the ps3 and that system isn’t dead. I think the fact you posted it under this article just proves you don’t know what your talking about. DRM is getting better and console ports are better than ever. I see that pc only franchises are on decline but console exclusives are down all around so nothing special there. I think as this generation comes to a close you’ll see more proper pc games while devs wait for consoles to get past the hurdles of a relaunch, happens every cycle.

    • travbrad
    • 11 years ago

    There you go with your facts and rational thought. 😉

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 11 years ago

    I was actually looking to pick that game up. No more need for that. Actually I don’t think I’ll get dirt either.

    • travbrad
    • 11 years ago

    How else are they going to get you to buy a new Tiger Woods game, when every single game for the last decade has basically been identical?

    • travbrad
    • 11 years ago

    Dust 514 isn’t even coming out on the PC so I’m not sure how much of a part that actually played. It’s a companion game to a PC-only game (Eve Online) that can’t be played on PCs. It’s also a FPS game, so obviously a controller is the ideal way to play it right? That just seems crazy to me…

    I think it’s going to be a pretty big flop by only being available on the least popular console.

    • travbrad
    • 11 years ago

    I can’t say this is a surprising move by Codemasters. All of their games seem to have that consolization smell on them (and they all seem to require GFWL too, which is really annoying). So they have broken more than just 1 of those “10 commandments”.

    • Palek
    • 11 years ago

    Did Gabe Newell kick your cat or something? Just wondering because you seem awfully dedicated to your anti-Steam campaign.

    • BobbinThreadbare
    • 11 years ago

    A one time payment to use a product indefinitely is not a rental.

    Valve has also said they’ll patch their games to not need steam if for some reason the service should end.

    • odizzido
    • 11 years ago

    If you don’t call it renting then what do you say when you goto a video store and pay them to play one of their games for a certain amount of time?

    Borrowing for money? Whatever you call it that is what you do on steam.

    • pot
    • 11 years ago

    Then how do some 360 games have dedicated servers? Are they official MS servers?

    • Duck
    • 11 years ago

    me? eh?

    • DrCR
    • 11 years ago

    The reason is simple — they think enough people will continue to buy their games regardless. It’s the same situation for “public servants” (now THAT’s a joke!) who show complete disregard for the people the serve; they know they are likely to get re-elected regardless.

    The answer is to not play a rubbish game. Don’t support it with your money — don’t support it with your time. There’s plenty of other entertainment opportunities out there.

    • BobbinThreadbare
    • 11 years ago

    I agree. They could at least patch it to allow for LAN play and direct IP connection. They wouldn’t even have to run a matchmaking service and it would probably get them good PR.

    • BobbinThreadbare
    • 11 years ago

    That’s not what renting means.

    • Krogoth
    • 11 years ago

    This is another sign that “PC gaming” as we know is dead.

    Removing dedicated server support is all about “control”. Publishers want to force people to pay their online services and charge you an arm/leg for any DLCs. The last step is establishing a subscription-based scheme that will go something like this.

    1.) Bronze/Free tier- no subscription fee, you just have to deal with ads and other commercial interruptions, little or no customization, pay for any DLCs.

    2.) Sliver/Mid-range tier – a nominal subscription fee, no ads, some limited customization, have to pay for DLCs.

    3.) Gold/High tier – a higher subscription rate, no adds, full customizations/features, seek peeks/beta tester for DLCs/future content. DLCs may be free or sold at a discounted cost.

    It is basically XBL *cough* GWFL 2.0 *cough* for PC gamers.

    The publishers try to rationalize this to customer by saying it is meant to fight off “piracy” and ensures security/quality assurance! I am not so confident in light of the latest strings of network cracks. (PS3, Activision-Blizzard, Epic).

    • lilbuddhaman
    • 11 years ago

    The problem is that one day they can just change their minds (to cut costs?), and we’ll all be powerless to it.

    • lilbuddhaman
    • 11 years ago

    You’re comparing Bomberman Online to a PC title ?
    Really ? REALLY ?

    Nowadays to play BFBC2 online, I’m connected to Steam, EA Online, BFBC2’s Stat Tracking, and Punkbuster just to play. If one fails, they all fail*. (if the stat tracking drops you just lose your unlocks / stats don’t record for a however long it is down).

    It wasn’t like that back in the day, not at all.

    • ShadowTiger
    • 11 years ago

    I think its a company’s responsibility to release dedicated servers if they are cutting off multiplayer support.

    In this case, they are trying to pinch pennies and paying some programmers to convert the multiplayer servers, as trivial as it may be, would probably make them flinch.

    • cynan
    • 11 years ago

    The only reason I can see for these companies to refrain from allowing customers to run their own dedicated servers is to make it more difficult for those who pirate the game to play multiplayer.

    It’s all part of the vicious cycle of PC game developers intentionally crippling their own products (DRM, etc) for some misguided notion that it will deter pirating and ultimately boost sales.

    Yet sadly, crippled products = boosted sales is an equation that continues to defy logic.

    • hansmuff
    • 11 years ago

    Oh, so you were entitled to 3 years of free play?

    • hansmuff
    • 11 years ago

    Perhaps fewer than they hope, but I doubt it will hurt their bottom line.
    People get outraged for a little, and then the next shiny new game comes along and all is forgotten.

    I take this as an experiment to see how quickly they can disconnect older titles. They want to know what they can get away with. And I suspect they will get away with even shorter multiplayer cycles, or perhaps go to a model where you have to pay extra for multiplayer after the initial offering of a year or so.

    • potatochobit
    • 11 years ago

    its funny how you people have never played online games before
    this is nothing new, has been happening to many games for many years
    3years is not that bad a run

    you know what games had a short online run? bomberman online for dreamcast.
    out trigger. and many others. you can still go online with paradise city, but the in game store has been down for over a year already.

    no one plays grid online, how many newer games has codemasters released?
    I dont think they plan to slow down anytime soon either

    • Spotpuff
    • 11 years ago

    I agree but at the same time there’s something to be said if a company willfully omits that they can remove features at will, especially as large a feature as “all online support”.

    Many of us support steam, and if steam goes under we’re in trouble. Gabe said they’d somehow make it so people can keep playing, but what if they can’t for some games?

    • Kamisaki
    • 11 years ago

    Whatever. The rise of Steam was the best thing to happen to PC gaming in a long time. The whole time I’ve been buying games from Steam Valve has never done anything with the service that seriously bothered me, and they’ve done a lot to convince me that they have their customers’ interests in mind.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 11 years ago

    If you’re shutting down the MP, why NOT let users host their own servers? And if they don’t have the ability to make that, then why not plan ahead for the future by giving players the chance to so as to learn from this obvious mistake?

    Why, though, when you can just force those users to move on to your later products, buying them in the process, right? Except those users are so annoyed, they just say, “Not buying any more of YOUR games.” So they think they’re getting more sales, but they’ll wind up with fewer.

    • odizzido
    • 11 years ago

    Well, except for the whole steam thing. And I think the term you are looking for is rent, not buy. You only play those games you rent on steam as long as valve feels like letting you.

    • bill94el
    • 11 years ago

    Precedence was already set by EA in May of this year for Tiger Woods PGA 07 and 08 amongst others discontinued for online play.

    These were discontinued in January/February…FOR THE GOOD OF THE WHOLE!
    [url<]http://news.cnet.com/8301-13506_3-20027365-17.html[/url<]

    • thesmileman
    • 11 years ago

    “although it’s unclear whether server hosting for Microsoft’s console was handled by the same provider.”

    Microsoft doesn’t allow for third party hosting. That is one reason that Eve Online’s new game Dust 514 is only coming to the PS3

    • Duck
    • 11 years ago

    This is stupid. I think Valve is the only dev you can buy a game from these days and not get shafted in some way.

    • Duck
    • 11 years ago

    required to reply

    • Duck
    • 11 years ago

    Too late for some if they already bought it.

    • TaBoVilla
    • 11 years ago

    moreover, it sets a dangerous precedent for others to follow =(

    • Hallucinosis
    • 11 years ago

    Definitely not buying any Codemasters products.

    • yogibbear
    • 11 years ago

    Agreed. Cannot understand this decision at all.

    • tviceman
    • 11 years ago

    There is rarely an excuse to pirate, and this is not one of them. Do not buy or play the games that don’t support the features you want.

    • Duck
    • 11 years ago

    Another reason to pirate rather than risk wasting money.

    • TaBoVilla
    • 11 years ago

    this is preposterous, really…

    • atryus28
    • 11 years ago

    Grid is a great game and no need of GWL either. Unfortunately Dirt 2 and beyond insist on it. I had so many problems with Dirt 2 because of that. Now it really sucks you can’t play online and only GWL play is available. I am thinking there is no shock to this. MS is probably somewhat behind it seeing as the Xbox version is not being pulled.

    Games may be beautiful from time to time but this kind of crap is getting old. I’m finished with Codemasters

    Indie games FTW!!!!

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