Sadly, it’s time to bid farewell to another online-only iteration of the Age of Empires franchise. After retiring the multiplayer RTS, Age of Empires Online, Microsoft announced on November 13th that Age of Empires: Castle Siege would be the next title to be shut down. The game’s homepage now displays only the following announcement:
“We wanted to share that after May 13, 2019, ‘Age of Empires: Castle Siege’ will no longer be supported, and will no longer be available for download. Current ‘Age of Empires: Castle Siege’ players can still download and play the game up until May 13. After May 13, matchmaking services will end, which means the game will no longer be playable. While we’re sad to close ‘Age of Empires: Castle Siege,’ we’re excited for what’s to come for the Age franchise with the recent release of ‘Age of Empires: Definitive Edition’ and upcoming titles such as ‘Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition,’ ‘Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition’ and ‘Age of Empires IV.’
More information can be found on the official Castle Siege forums at forums.castlesiegegame.com.”
In addition to the details above, the official forum post offers a helpful FAQ detailing refunds and informing readers that the forums will be closed and archived on December 31st, 2018. I’ll have the date added to the Watch List calendar and a page for the game up on the site soon.
Thanks to @DeadGameNews on Twitter for pointing this out!
Invokers Tournament was another attempt to capitalize on the MOBA craze when DOTA 2 was blowing up the scene in 2013. Unfortunately, like many other MOBA-likes, Invokers wasn’t able to catch a large enough audience and on November 15th the team at StormBASIC announced it would finally be drawing the game (and their studio) to a close.
When we created Invokers Tournament, we were excited by the possibilities of translating a MOBA with action elements to PSVita, PS4 & PS3. Invokers Tournament players have played countless PvP matches since the launch.
Unfortunately, our game concept did not translate as we hoped, and we are not able to continue the game service more time; StormBASIC games will close their doors soon. It’s with great sadness that we’ll be concluding the game servers on 15-MAY-2019. Until this date, we’ll turn off new in-app purchases soon, and hope you’ll enjoy playing Invokers Tournament until the end of the service.
Thank you all for your passion!
StormBASIC has been a long-time supporter of the PlayStation and once the studio totally shuts down we might lose a handful of their older titles. If you’re looking for titles to keep an eye on after May 2019, here’s StormBASIC’s roster of downloadable titles, mostly of the PlayStation mini variety:
- Run Ghost Run
- BABEL The King of the Blocks
- Dr. MiniGames
- 3, 2, 1…SuperCrash!
- Tehra Dark Warrior
I’ll have the date added to the Watch List calendar and a page for the game up on the site soon.
Word broke on the afternoon of November 14th that Telltale Games had entered an Assignment of Contract with the business consulting firm Sherwood Partners. GameDaily has an extensive recount of the publicly available details, including their conversation with Sherwood’s co-founder Martin Pitchinson, but for our purposes I think this snippet sums it up:
“Telltale Games is going through assignment proceedings, a process similar to bankruptcy, but designed to move quickly and settle the company’s affairs. […] ‘A company can go out of business without going bankrupt,’ says attorney and Odin Law & Media founder Brandon Huffman. ‘All that means is that they were able to find someone to give them enough money for assets to pay any creditors or they had the money on hand.'”
The speed at which Telltale’s assets are being handled has already resulted in the delisting of four titles. Twitter user @Nitomatta pointed out on the 14th that Back to the Future, Jurassic Park: The Game, and Tales of Monkey Island had already been removed from Steam. Some hours later Telltale’s entire The Walking Dead series was also removed from Steam.
As of this writing these titles remain available on Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo consoles (where released) but I wouldn’t hold out too long if you’re interested in picking them up digitally. A sale seems unlikely given that titles are already being pulled but you can save 33% on Steam by buying the Telltale Collection for $186.
I’ll be using this page on SteamDB (Steam login required) to keep track of Telltale’s titles over the coming days and weeks. Eventually I’ll have several new pages added to the site once the dust settles a little more.
In an uncharacteristically outgoing move, Sony America has begun sending out emails regarding the end of online services for Warhawk, Twisted Metal, PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale, and Sound Shapes. Previously scheduled for October 25th, PlayStation Europe first communicated the extension early in November but confirmation wasn’t clear if it was exclusive to that territory.
That confusion was apparently heard at Sony America who decided to send out the official word, even if they still haven’t updated all of the game’s PlayStation Store pages to reflect it. The body of the email we received today reads:
“We wanted to update you on a planned service shut down, which impacts online access for Warhawk, Twisted Metal, PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale, and Sound Shapes. This has now been extended to January 31, 2019 at 12:00 AM PT.
Following this shutdown, Warhawk will no longer be playable unless the PS3 system is set to LAN mode for local network play. For Twisted Metal and PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale, users can play the campaign offline as well as local (couch) multiplayer in split screen mode. For Sound Shapes, users will be able to play the campaign and all DLC purchases as well as create their own levels, however, users won’t be able to share their levels with the community or download community created levels.”
The dates on the Watch List calendar have been updated, as has our game page for Warhawk which is the only game of the lot to be delisted so far.
Along with the end of the Wii Shop Channel and the Virtual Console, the Nintendo Wii will apparently be losing its streaming video services on January 30th, 2019. We’ve known since 2017 that the Wii’s gaming marketplaces would be switched off in 2019 but according to an email notification sent out by Netflix, we now have confirmation that all streaming video apps are coming to an end the same day.
Obviously, the loss of original and unique games on the Wii Shop Channel is the most meaningful news, but seeing Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Video going dark really drives the point home: Nintendo is done with the Wii. The only holdout looks to be the ability to re-download your previously purchased content. While the last update Nintendo gave said that purchases from the Wii Shop and Virtual Console would end on January 30th, they very nebulously maintain that “at an undisclosed time in the future the ability to redownload this content or transfer it to a Wii U would also be suspended”.
It seems likely that you’ll be able to dig through your purchase history and re-download games into 2019, but if you’ve put it off this long you should probably get on that. We’ve got a handy walkthrough to help you out!
“Reactions” is a feature I looked at for the site way back in 2016 but I was never happy with the price or the implementation of most options out there. Not long ago however, the plug-in we use for commenting on the site, Disqus, rolled them out as a free feature so, like, why not?
It’s a little funky in that the emoji reaction buttons won’t show up on any old posts, but going forward feel free to react to any new posts on the site with a quick click down towards the bottom of the page. Bonus: you don’t even need a Disqus account to use them! So chime in with your reactions on news and games: let the world know you approve, disagree, can’t believe, or can’t stand for this delisting nonsense.
I hope that these simple little tallies of angry, sad, and reminiscent reactions can one day prove to some publishers that there are enough people out here that would love to see their games back on sale.
There’s been a short reprieve on the deadline dates for some older PlayStation titles although it’s hard to pin down in exactly which regions. Right now we know for sure that online features for PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale and Twisted Metal (2012) have been extended to January 31st, 2019 across Europe. In North America, the game’s pages still show October 25th as the cutoff but anyone still looking to play these titles should definitely give it a shot (and let us know if you do!).
Meanwhile, the multiplayer shooter, Drawn to Death, has had its extinction date set. The note on the Decommissioned Servers page from PlayStation Europe reads “multiplayer and all online features for this product will be terminated and no longer available from 25th March 2019. As you have to be online to play this title, this game will no longer be playable as of the same date.”
The warning comes a little too late for players in North America and Asia as the game has already been removed from sale in those territories. It was once given away to PlayStation Plus subscribers so you may be able to find it in your history and keep playing but right now you can only purchase the game from the PlayStation Store in European territories.
One final note from the updated page regarding inFAMOUS Second Sun: “On 16th December 2018 at 00:01am GMT, the web-based puzzle portions of InFAMOUS Paper Trail will be shutting down. The InFAMOUS Paper Trail PlayStation 4 missions will continue to function within InFAMOUS Second Son, so you’ll still be able to complete Celia’s story.”
I’ll get the new dates added to the Watch List calendar and prep a page for Drawn to Death soon. Thanks to @LotsaNintendo on Twitter for pointing it out.
Polygon has a new post up covering revisions that have recently been made to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) by the Library of Congress and the U.S. Copyright Office that might help us get some of our delisted games back. It’s a dense 85-page read so I’m going to paraphrase a bit from Polygon.
Along with enabling owners to legally open and repair their consoles, the revisions — which are set to go into effect October 28th — include a section that calls out “instances of DRM where online authentication is required in order to play games.” The ability to circumvent this kind of DRM was originally extended to institutions like libraries and museums but the revision seeks to open it up. In Polygon’s words “once a copyright holder shuts down authentication services, consumers now have the right to break DRM in order to play games.”
It isn’t something that most of us will be able to take advantage of, but rest assured there are smarter people out there ready to take things apart and put them back together again for the benefit of us all. This will most likely start out on PC with titles from digital stores like Steam, the Ubisoft Store, and EA Origin but could extend to consoles in time.
In closing, Polygon advises to maybe not get your hopes up too high just yet. “There are still many variables in play, however. The guidance is new, and has yet to be tested in the courts. Edge cases are likely to arise in the coming months and years. That ambiguity is baked into the process, however, with these triennial revisions. The next update is due out in 2021.”
Previously, on Alan Wake…
In May of 2017 Remedy’s community staff gave a brief heads-up that the game was going to be delisted from all digital platforms due to expired music licensing, plunging Alan into the suffocating darkness of digital unavailability. Suddenly, on October 25th Remedy announced via Twitter that the game had returned to Steam and GOG.com and would soon be re-emerging from the blackness on Xbox 360.
“Big thanks to our partner and Alan Wake’s publishers @Microsoft who were able to renegotiate the rights to the licensed music in Alan Wake, so that the game can be sold again.” @RemedyGames
In subsequent replies on Twitter, Remedy confirmed that all of the game’s licensed music was kept intact thanks to Microsoft and that the Xbox version would return “very soon”. To commemorate Alan’s reappearance and celebrate the Halloween season the game is also on sale for 80% off through November 1st on Steam and GOG.com. If you’re after the Xbox 360 version keep an eye on this page.
Official word broke on October 22nd that Trion Worlds, publisher of MMO titles Atlas Reactor, Trove, Rift, Defiance, and ArcheAge, had been purchased. Unconfirmed reports point to Gamigo as the buyer and that as few as 25 employees remain. Word has it that the Redwood City, California and Austin, Texas offices have been all but shuttered.
Nevertheless, the only official statement we’ve seen goes on to say that all of Trion’s games will somehow carry on. From a post on the Rift forums, Trion employee TrionBrasse shared the following statement from the studio:
Greetings — We can confirm that there has been a transaction involving Trion Worlds and its games.
While many of the names and faces you’ve come to know in our studios will remain on through this transition, others will not be making the journey. To those who are leaving us, we are forever grateful for your incredible work and contributions over the years.
We’d like to assure our communities that the games will continue on in capable hands moving forward, as everyone involved is aiming to make this transition as smooth as possible for you. We will have more information to reveal as soon as we possibly can.
From the bottom of all of our hearts, we thank you for your time and dedication to our games and hope that you’ve enjoyed the experience as much as we have. From spending time with you in game, to seeing you at conventions, to talking with you on livestreams and forums, it’s been our pleasure to be a part of this exceptional community with you since our first launch more than seven years ago.
Please know that you have our deepest gratitude. As for our games, we hope you continue to enjoy playing them far into the future!
The Trion Worlds Team
So far, nothing has changed with Trion’s games but there’s almost no way that they won’t be affected. If 25 staff members are actually all that remains there probably won’t be any new content for these games and they’ll be on life support until the plug is finally pulled. For now it’s a wait-and-see situation but be assured that all of Trion’s games are officially on the Watch List.