News: Social Club cards launched


We've got some unfortunate news for those still playing past Rockstar titles. On May 31st GameSpy will be shutting down completely, taking with it the online services for a number of past Rockstar titles. We have a list at the end of the article detailing which games and services are getting the axe. Read on if you'd like a history of why this is happening.

Back in the late 90's, online gaming was starting to boom. The Quake community wated to create a community server browser so they could easily find matches to join. This led to the creation of GameSpy, one of the first companies to offer online and matchmaking middleware to video game developers. This made it easy for developers to include multiplayer in their titles without worring about having to manage their own infrastructure. In 2000 the company was purchased by IGN.  Fun fact, Rockstar actually experimented with GameSpy back in 2001 with Grand Theft Auto 3. GameSpy code, along with a number of references to multiplayer, can be found in the GTA3 code. Similarly, GameSpy code can be found in Vice City and San Andreas.

Back in 2008 when Rockstar launched Social Club, it made heavy use of GameSpy's services and at one point poritons of the website were even housed on GameSpy servers. At that time Sony didn't provide online services for developers to use other than online IDs, essentially leaving it up to developers to implement their own multiplayer/online services. Microsoft on the other hand provided a number of services such as matchmaking and leader-boards. This led to a number of developers, including Rockstar, to use GameSpy in their PlayStation 3 titles while using Xbox Live's services in titles for the Xbox 360. Grand Theft Auto IV and Midnight Club LA were the first titles to use Social Club and include multiplayer. If you glance at the list of affected titles, you'll notice that the PS3 version of Midnight Club LA will be losing it's multiplayer ability while the 360 version retains it. Fortunately, it does seem Rockstar will be sparing multiplayer portions of the other two PlayStation 3 titles that use GameSpy - Grand Theft Auto IV and Red Dead Redemption. This is likely due to some update to be released or Rockstar negotiating a deal with to take control of the servers.

So how did GameSpy go from powering over 1,000 games to shutting down? Back in 2010 IGN sold the technologies division of GameSpy to mobile developer Glu. Shortly thereafter, Glu started shutting down a number of games. Glu claimed that they had not received payment from the publishers to keep the servers online. Publishers fired back, accusing Glu of jacking up prices. After this point, GameSpy stopped accepting new titles and went silent. It was around this time Rockstar seems to have started a push to rid themselves of GameSpy's services. They started development of their own online services, apty named "Rockstar Online Services" or ROS for short. L.A. Noire was the first Rockstar title to include ROS in-place of GameSpy and Max Payne 3 was the first title to use ROS for multiplayer. (Update: We have discovered the PC version of Max Payne 3 does in-fact use GameSpy for multiplayer sessions while using ROS to handle the rest of the online features. Unfortunately there was some DRM packing on the executable that threw us off. That still doesn't properly explain why only the OSX version is affected as it literally uses the same files as the Windows version thanks to it using TransGaming's Cider. We suspect that Rockstar will be pushing some update to the Windows version of Max Payne 3 to replace GameSpy and TransGaming doesn't want to go through the trouble of repacking the game again on OSX. Again, just speculation but that's the best explanation we have based on the evidence.)

Earlier this month, Glu announced that it will be shutting down GameSpy for good on May 31st. Over its long history, GameSpy was behind a number of important titles such as Battlefield, Crysis, Halo, Call of Duty and Arma. For some of these titles, publishers have announced they will be patching affected games and in some cases even negotiating control of the GameSpy servers for these games. However for many more titles the end of GameSpy spells their doom.

The doom train doesn't stop here. While Grand Theft Auto IV/Episodes from Liberty City on PC may be safe from the GameSpy shutdown, Games for Windows Live will similarly be shut down come July 2014. A number of developers have already patched titles to replace G4WL with Steamworks or their own solutions. Last year, we ran an article about this issue and reached out to Rockstar with no response. A few game news websites also ran stories on the situation and reportedly contacted Rockstar about the issue with no response. As of this writing, there's no public indication of Rockstar working on a solution for this. There was a community developed project to implement third-party multiplayer in GTAIV called IV:Multiplayer, however, this modification seems to have died off a few years ago. Recently, modding superstar NTAuthority announced he was creating his own IV multiplayer titled CitizenIV but suspects its still a long ways off from being finished.

Here's the list of affected Rockstar games and what to expect come May 31st:

Grand Theft Auto V

  • No changes will be made

Max Payne 3

  • Online multiplayer gameplay: Removed for the Mac version only
  • Social Club website stat tracking and leaderboards: Unaffected
  • In-game multiplayer leaderboards: Unaffected

Red Dead Redemption / RDR Game of the Year Edition / RDR Undead Nightmare

  • Online multiplayer gameplay: Unaffected
  • Social Club website stat tracking and leaderboards: Removed
  • In-game Social Club services: Removed
  • In-game multiplayer leaderboards: Removed for PlayStation®3 version only

Grand Theft Auto IV / GTAIV Complete / GTA Episodes from Liberty City

  • Online multiplayer gameplay: Unaffected
  • Social Club website stat tracking and leaderboards: Removed
  • In-game multiplayer leaderboards: Removed for PlayStation®3 version only

Midnight Club Los Angeles / MCLA Complete Edition

  • Online multiplayer gameplay: Removed for the PlayStation®3 version only
  • All Social Club website features and account linking: Removed
  • In-game multiplayer leaderboards: Removed for PlayStation®3 version only
  • In-game Rate My Ride and Driving Test unlocks: Removed

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (Nintendo DS and PlayStation®Portable Only)

  • Social Club website minigames and features: Removed
  • In-game Social Club content unlocks: Removed
  • Social Club website stat tracking: Removed

Beaterator

  • All Social Club website features: Removed
  • In-game Track Upload/Download feature: Removed

Midnight Club 3: Dub Edition / MC3: Dub Edition Remix

  • Online multiplayer gameplay: Removed
  • In-game multiplayer leaderboards: Removed

The list doesn't include Midnight Club 2, which from what we can tell does use GameSpy for multiplayer. We're assuming multiplayer for it will be discontinued come May 31st.


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