With little notice and even less explanation, Armature Studio has announced the end of online functionality for its sci-fi, multiplayer action strategy game, Dead Star, on Steam and PlayStation 4. The game is no longer available to buy on either platform and online multiplayer will be shut down on November 1st.
“Online functionality (including multiplayer) for Dead Star will cease November 1, 2016”
Though brief, Armature’s succinct response implies that those who already own the game may be able to continue playing offline in some capacity. I haven’t touched Dead Star since April when it was given away to PlayStation Plus members but I’ll be recording this week to confirm what remains, though it looks like only the tutorial will be playable.
As for reasoning, Armature’s director of operations Jack Mathews told Kotaku, “we are shutting down the game because, bluntly, the costs of operating the game now exceed its income.” He adds, “this is purely a financial decision to ensure the best possible future for Armature Studio.”
You can read up on Dead Star’s delisting here.
There are probably few people who are still interested in PlayStation Move games in 2016 which may be the reason that Tumble on PlayStation 3 has been delisted. It was one of the first titles shown for the PlayStation 3’s motion control peripheral back in 2010 and one that I was always waiting to go on sale. It’s a block-stacking puzzle game that received middling reviews but it always looked interesting to me.
I had checked in with the game’s PlayStation Store page earlier this year but as of October 11th it’s no longer available in the english territories. Hong Kong PSN still has it for sale as does GameStop.com where I may soon finally buy the $10 download code.
So, why would Sony delist one of their own original titles? I’m pinning it on product confusion as Tumble VR has just been released for the virtual reality headset. I don’t know if the content is similar but having two products with the same name that share some of the same peripherals was apparently too much for Sony to bother handling. Fortunately, no other first-party PSVR titles share a name with older products and I haven’t seen any other delistings come from the lineup.
Sony sent out an email on October 6th to announce the “retirement” of their free-to-play mobile game, Fat Princess: Piece of Cake. The game’s online features and micro-transactions will be disabled on December 1st, 2016 (iOS, Android) and January 1st, 2017 (Vita) but so will the ability to re-download the game.
It isn’t often that a game is completely removed this way but if you have it downloaded to your Vita or phone you can continue playing in offline mode until it is removed from the system. The game also allowed players who completed Level 15 to receive a download voucher for the original multiplayer PlayStation 3 title, Fat Princess. This feature will also be disabled as of the dates above.
While the game has received generally positive ratings on all three platforms it has logged only 100 – 500,000 installs on Android with presumably far fewer active players. It also appears that developer, One Loop Games, has ceased operation; all founding members of the small team left in early 2015 after the game’s launch on Android and Vita. The combination of a dwindling user base and departed developer are most likely the cause for the game’s retirement.
The brief statement from Sony follows.
Doubtful as I was, Disney has stuck to their promise to keep the community updated as Disney Infinity nears its inevitable online shutdown in March of 2017. In their original announcement the Steam versions of Disney Infinity 2.0 and 3.0 were to remain fully playable offline after September 30th. Disconnecting the online features has apparently been a bigger ordeal than expected and Disney has temporarily removed both titles, issuing the following explanation:
As of September 30, 2016, Disney Infinity 2.0 on Steam will temporarily be unavailable to play or purchase. […] Disney Infinity 3.0 will remain playable but will temporarily be unavailable for new downloads. DLC purchases from the Steam storefront and in-game will also be unavailable.
If you have purchased Disney Infinity 2.0 [or 3.0] prior to September 30, 2016, you will be eligible to receive a free Gold Edition of Disney Infinity later this year. The Disney Infinity Gold Edition will allow you to enjoy all Disney Infinity Playsets, characters, and Power Discs at no additional cost.
Please note that the Gold Edition will also include necessary changes to Online Features, which will allow you to continue to play through your adventures once Disney Infinity Servers have been shut down.
For a limited time, you will be able to transfer your Disney Infinity 2.0 [or 3.0] save progression to the new Gold Edition to ensure all your Play Set and Toy Box progress is not lost.
Please check Steam and the Disney Infinity website frequently as we will provide the Disney Infinity community with news and status of the game across all platforms should the status change.
It’s commendable that Disney would go to the lengths to create whole new versions of the game to allow fans to keep playing after the online service shutdown in 2017. While their plans to bring the titles back could still fall through it’s nice that they didn’t simply pull them offline at the first signs of trouble.
Posted in an update to the Forza Motorsport blog on September 23rd, Turn 10’s Brian Ekberg confirmed that the original Forza Horizon on Xbox 360 would be delisted on October 20th.
“On October 20, the original Forza Horizon for Xbox 360 will reach “End of Life” status. That means that the game and its associated DLC will no longer be available for purchase. Players who own Forza Horizon before that date will still be able to download and play the game and its associated content as normal. After that date, however, Forza Horizon and its associated DLC will no longer be for sale.”
The game was included in the Games with Gold program and was available to all Xbox Live Gold members from September 1st through the 15th. Anyone who grabbed the game through mid-September or purchased it previously can still re-download it through their Purchase History page.
If you’re interested in the founding entry in the Horizon series you still have about 2 weeks to download it on Xbox 360 or Xbox One. Of course, you can always pick the game up on disc after October 20th if you miss this small remaining window of availability.
As for why the 4-year-old game is being delisted it is most certainly due to licensing. Nearly 60 different manufacturers are featured in the game and 62 artists appear on the soundtrack. Renegotiating new terms with two sequels ahead of it probably isn’t a priority investment for Turn 10 or Microsoft. With that in mind, don’t be surprised to hear a similar announcement regarding Forza Horizon 2 in another two years when it nears the four year mark.
Big Fish Games has communicated to its affiliate members that several Digital Chocolate and Sandlot Games titles are being removed from their service on October 1st. The games already appear to be unavailable to purchase but if you previously bought one you may still be able to download it by logging into your account.
Almost all of these titles remain available on Amazon, Steam, Xbox 360 or mobile. The titles I couldn’t find legitimate links to (there’s a lot of shady sites out there to play PC games on) are in bold. After a little more investigation I may be adding them to the delisted ranks. These removals seem to be happening as Digital Chocolate has gone silent in recent years and no renewal with Big Fish has been negotiated.
- Barnyard Invasion
- Cake Mania
- Cake Mania 2
- Cake Mania 3
- Cake Mania Deluxe EU
- Cake Mania Main Street
- Cake Mania: Lights, Camera, Action!
- Cake Mania: To the Max
- Chocolate Shop Frenzy
- Cookie Domination
- Eye for Design
- Fashion Forward
- Glyph 2
- Granny in Paradise
- Iron Roses
- Monster Mash
- Pirate Island
- Rasputin’s Curse
- Slyder Adventures
- Snail Mail
- Super Granny 3
- Super Granny 4
- Super Granny 5
- Super Granny 6
- Super Granny Winter Wonderland
- Super Slyder
- The Legend of Crystal Valley
- Tower Bloxx
- Tower Bloxx Deluxe
- Tradewinds 2
- Tradewinds Caravans
- Tradewinds Classic
- Tradewinds Legends
- Tradewinds Odyssey
- Tropical Dream: Underwater Odyssey
- Westward II: Heroes of the Frontier
- Westward III: Gold Rush
- Westward IV: All Aboard
- Westward Kingdoms
- Word Monaco
- Zombie Pirates
In researching the availability of these titles I started a Google Sheet with links to the various sites that are still selling these games. You can check it out here for a more colorful breakdown of this list.
UPDATE September 22nd: Mafia II and its DLC have finally returned to Xbox 360. The page was updated between September 16th and the 22nd. The original post follows.
Original Post from September 5th:
On the eve of my holiday weekend vacation (which is why I’m just now digging in) the official Mafia homepage announced that Mafia II was once again available for digital purchase on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. While the game appeared promptly on PlayStation Network alongside the August 30th announcement it has yet to return on Xbox 360 nearly one week later. No explanation has been given by 2K Games but I’ve reached out for a comment.
There are a few more wrinkles to the game’s surprise console return, both good and bad. Achievement hunters were quick to notice that the game’s seven pieces of DLC content have yet to return on consoles. On the upside, Mafia II is playable through Sony’s PlayStation Now service on an array of devices but if it does return to Xbox it most likely won’t be backward compatible on Xbox One.
Coincidentally, I had just gotten around to researching Mafia and Mafia II the week before this announcement, confirming that both games were originally delisted due to specific music licensing deals. Mafia II returned to Steam on June 1st, 2016 missing a handful of songs but with all of the DLC in tow.
I’ll update this post and bump it back to the top if 2K makes an official statement or if I see the game pop up on Xbox 360.
After requesting a subpoena from a federal judge to reveal the identities of 100 Steam users who maligned their products, Valve has chosen to remove all of Digital Homicide Studios’ titles from the Steam platform. Digital Homicide alleges that the users in question caused “personal injury” to him, the studio and its products through negative reviews and threats and is seeking $18 million through a lawsuit.
In an email response to Vice’s Motherboard site, Valve’s VP of marketing, Doug Lombardi, stated “Valve has stopped doing business with Digital Homicide for being hostile to Steam customers”. You can read more on this developing story from Digital Homicide themselves, Motherboard, and TechRaptor who were among the first to break the story. The titles confirmed to be delisted include:
- Forsaken Uprising
- The Slaughtering Grounds
- Deadly Profits
- Temper Tantrum
- Medieval Mercs
- Devils Share
- Dungeons Of Kragmor
- Krog Wars
- Starship: Nova Strike
- Mini Attack Submarine
- Wyatt Derp 2: Peacekeeper
- Winged Knights: Penetration
- Withering Kingdom: Arcane War
- Wyatt Derp
- Gnarltoof’s Revenge
- The Decimation of Olarath
- Paranormal Psychosis
- Operation: Global Shield
- Attrition: Nuclear Domination
- Galactic Hitman
Many of these games and more from Digital Homicide are currently still available as PC downloads in an ongoing itch.io bundle.
At one time Interplay was a leading developer and publisher of PC and console video games on par with Electronic Arts and Activision. But after nearly going bankrupt, being acquired by Titus Software, settling a handful of lawsuits and launching a troubled Kickstarter the controlling parties have decided to sell off Interplay’s assets and IPs. The statement made by current President, Eric Caen, rings both hopeful and resigned.
” As game creators, we are proud of the entertainment these properties have provided over the years. With the proliferation of mobile, augmented reality, virtual reality and other new forms of consumption, we believe that consumers are ready to experience and interact with Interplay’s characters, stories and game play in ways never possible before. We look forward to seeing how this unique portfolio of interactive entertainment icons will evolve for the worldwide audience,” states Eric Caen, President of Interplay.
Wedbush Securities is handling the sale of intellectual properties which includes “70 titles and dozens of characters”. While the sale will hopefully result in exciting new titles it also means the end of licensing and publishing deals for Interplay’s current games. Based on their site and their catalog on Steam, Desura and GOG I’ve compiled this list of titles to keep an eye on. With IPs being sold off and Interplay presumably shutting down in 2017 the chances seem high that these titles will be delisted at some point:
Renegade Kid, one of the oldest indie studios I can personally think of, have announced that they’re shutting down the business after nearly ten years in the industry. Fortunately, this wasn’t due to any irreconcilable differences and co-founders Jools Watsham and Gregg Hargrove’s friendship and respect are still intact. So why the split? In an interview with Nintendo Life, the pair confirm that market conditions for a studio of their size was growing overwhelming.
“It has been a great financial challenge and an extreme workload for the entire team to maintain a balance between cash flow, staying competitive with our games, and spending quality time with our families and friends. Couple these realities with the desire to achieve personal goals, Gregg and I came to the difficult decision to each pursue solo ventures and close Renegade Kid.”
Now for the Delisted angle. In a move that could cause licensing problems down the line, ownership of Renegade Kid’s library has been split between two new studios, Watsham’s Atooi and Hargrove’s Infitizmo. Atooi will take on all of the existing 2D titles including Mutant Mudds and Treasurenauts while Infitizmo handles the 3D games like Moon and Dementium.
No delistings look to have occurred just yet but I’ve reached out to both studios for comment. For the time being I’ve marked this post for the Watch List.