Update on the Gamespy Debacle

How do you know an issue is big? When poor saps who have the same name have to write a massive article to say, “We didn’t do this. We are not even the same company.” And then the other company feels the heat enough to respond….

It seems the game-service Gamespy has felt the heat enough to write a response blaming all the studios for the actions on these games, claiming they had given warning and most of these had occurred because of unpaid bills, like a cable company is supposed to do if you are late enough paying them. Their claim is that it was the companies who should have warned their audiences when they got warnings but failed to do so.

The problem is this reduces this whole thing to a “he said-she said” issue. Without seeing either payment records or such notices, neither side has any proof of what has happened behind the scenes, only the final result of the games being shut down and gamers who have played many of these for almost a decade, loving every minute of it, getting pissed.

So who do you believe? Gaming studios who’s games suddenly turned off and produced an announcement on their forums within a day or two? Or the service supplier who pulled the plug and once the backlash came at them explained the issue? The stories do not connect very well outside of one exact point… expiring contracts. It would be the perfect time for a publisher/developer to not renew, OR for Gamespy to ramp up the price and pull the plug.

Personally, I have a hard time accepting Gamespy’s word on this. If this had happened to one publisher, I would have said “this is probably right.” Had it happened to 2, maybe I would have accepted coincidence and moved on… but almost every game pulled was from a different publisher/studio… and to have them all “not pay at the same time” strikes me as a little suspicious. I suspect what happened was Gamespy, under Glu’s command, pushed the price up (yep… calling them out on lying) and their customers said “we are done” counting on a little extra time to put up a message… assuming of course they were still around to. (I don’t think Lucas Arts has a game department anymore so much as a game licensing one, for example. I could be wrong but I don’t think so.) They didn’t get the time and gamers got a rude awakening.

Ah well, at least, as the gaming website Gamespy pointed out, there are services out there you can use to play these games and bypass gamespy completely. Nothing lost, but the few customers who weren’t convinced the service sucks…. and possibly some of the few games left that will use it in the future for fear that those gamers will refuse their game for using a shitty service.

And if you console gamers don’t believe that will happen, you don’t know PC gaming. The gamers here know what they want and will balance how badly they want the game vs how much they like/hate the services/DRM systems in play. It’s why Games For Windows LIVE is pretty much a failure and probably a good part of why EA Sports games never sold so well here.

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