Used to be GameSpy was a common sight playing a PC game online. The service picked out the best matches available for you. It was a popular middleware solution.
IGN owned GameSpy but sold to Glu Mobile earlier this year.
Now GameSpy services for several PC games have unceremoniously disappeared, leaving players in the dark. Those people writing on Gamespy's Facebook page have simply been told the games in question aren't supported by their publishers any more.
Affected games are Sniper Elite, Neverwinter Nights 1 & 2, Microsoft Flight Simulator X, Hidden and Dangerous 2, SWAT 4, Wings of War and Star Wars: Battlefront.
The issue seems to be Glu Mobile purging the GameSpy network of games no longer properly supported by publishers. And by "properly supported" I mean those publishers willing to fork out a higher fee to retain the GameSpy service.
Sniper Elite developer Rebellion couldn't afford the new prices so wrote an open letter to its community explaining what's going on.
"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. 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," read a relayed memo from Rebellion senior management.
"We have been talking to them since to try and get the servers turned back on. 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.
"While we are not happy about the situation, as an independent developer we simply do not have the resources to pay the massive costs of new servers along with redeveloping a seven-year-old game.
"We share the disappointment of fans who have played the game since it was published in 2005. This is not something we intended or wanted to happen, but unfortunately it has been beyond our control. 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."
A commenter named OldTimeRadio wrote in the Neverwinter Nights forum and also started a Slashdot thread about the problem.
"In a nutshell, a company called GLU Mobile purchased GameSpy Technologies from IGN sometime back in August of this year," OldTimeRadio noted. "I've been registered as a GameSpy developer for about a year now and noticed that the licensing for developers was changing but there didn't seem to be any other big changes.
"Starting sometime as early as October, the people who purchased GameSpy began contacting developers and publishers for games which were part of the GameSpy network, attempting to get them to 're-support' their games. I am assuming this is a euphemism for paying some amount of money. The original GameSpy left a huge number of legacy games on their network and this new outfit has now 'conducted an audit' and those games which are 'no longer supported by their publisher' (their verbiage) have been removed.
"It appears this has been a rolling thing, not done to all games at once, and what we're seeing now is either in the middle or the end of those games being decoupled from the GameSpy network.
"A very large number of games and users are affected. We are not the only ones, not by a long shot."
There are some workarounds for the games affected that involve knowing the IP addresses of people you want to connect to or the servers details you wish to connect to. The relevant community boards for each game should take you to the right place.
We'll update with comment from Glu whenever and ifever we hear back.