The year was 2006. The new consoles were hitting the market and the PC gaming crowd was really mad at Microsoft (as usual). But this specific event was tied to the PC release of the legendary Halo 2 and its Windows Vista exclusivity, something that undoubtedly led to the news that’s been circulating around the Internet for a couple days now and disappointing dozens of gamers worldwide. That’s right, Microsoft is cutting the cord on the master server for Halo 2 on the PC due to the fact that the servers seem to be reliably peaking at about 20 players and interest in the game has all but dried up. As of February 15th, 2013 you will no longer be able to partake in the (some would argue mediocre) PC multiplayer action. This of course coming after the shut down of the Xbox version of Halo 2 in April of 2010 with Microsoft’s discontinuing of the original Xbox Live system.
I’ve never actually owned an online game that got axed, but I have watched those ominous videos of various old MMOs’ final minutes and it always made me wonder if it was fair to have the deciding factor of how much I get out of my game to be in the hands of whoever’s running the servers and if I wasn’t “too late” to get in on the fun. I can go back and pop Contra into my NES and get the whole experience just like I was playing it in 1988…5 years before I was born, but still the point remains. In this age of Internet connections and master servers hidden deep within secret active volcanoes in mountain ranges thousands of miles away from civilization, are the future generations of gamers going to be able to understand why the games we’re playing right now are so great (or awful) when all that’s left of some of them is just an error login screen? Some day World of Warcraft is just going to be a measly 20 gigabytes in some old decrepit computer tower sitting in someone’s basement that won’t mean anything to anyone who doesn’t have fond memories of it, and that sounds kind of weird to me.
What do you guys think? Are you cool with the online features of games getting shut down after their time in the limelight has passed? What sort of stuff do you think could be done to fix the problem without putting a bunch of effort on a dev team that doesn’t care anymore? If all this Halo business has you riled up to play some good ol’ fashioned last-gen Halo, Halo: Combat Evolved is still going strong (ish) on the PC and looks like a bit of fun if you want a break from all those stunning visuals.