EA has put the kibosh on a player-run Battlefield emulator – are MMOs next?

    
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We don’t cover the Battlefield games much on Massively OP, but this particular story caught my attention anyway because of the company and subject involved. According to a piece on Gamasutra, EA has effectively stymied a player-run effort to resurrect several Battlefield games, including Battlefield Heroes, as de facto emulators with online services, which have attracted significant fan support.

Revive Network says it was issued a polite request – not a formal cease-and-desist demand – by EA’s legal team, casually asking the site-runners to put an end to distrbuting the clients that make the resurrection possible.

“We’ve noticed that Revive Network has several projects and websites devoted to being a Medic by ‘reviving’ older Battlefield games, including Battlefield Heroes, Battlefield 2, and Battlefield 2142. It’s great to see your enthusiasm for these titles. Not to brag, but we too get the nostalgia chills when booting up these classic entries in the Battlefield franchise. We need a favor though: we must ask that you stop throwing down Ammo Crates. In other, more legal-styled terms, please stop distributing copies of our game clients and using our trademarks, logos, and artwork on your sites. Thing is, your websites may easily mislead visitors to believe that you are associated or affiliated with EA – we’re the only ones that get to wear the ‘Official EA’ dog tag. Since you’re Battlefield community members, we know that you are smart and helpful, and will respect that we must protect our intellectual property rights in the franchise.”

Downloads for the games have since been shut down, along with the Battlefield slice of the Revive Network itself, which signs off by thanking the community. But it’s safe to say fans aren’t giving up in any case.

What made me sit up and take notice is the fact that EA has traditionally been tacitly supportive of emulators in the online space, as MMORPG players can attest. Hundreds of Ultima Online emulators – some with subs of their own – have been allowed to go on relatively unchecked for almost two decades, in spite of the fact that the original MMORPG is still alive and well and putting out expansions. Dark Age of Camelot, Earth and Beyond, and Warhammer Online emulators have likewise been running for many years. Most recently, The Sims Online emulator’s mobile port was indeed issued a cease-and-desist from the company. Here’s to hoping EA’s legal team doesn’t have any of the other MMORPGs in its sights.

Source: Revive via Gamasutra
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Jack Pipsam

Well I will give EA a million kudos for at least being as nice about it up-front as possible.

As for why this? I suppose it might be what’s important to them at the moment. Battlefield and The Sims are key IP of theirs and if this emulator was using their logo then that might cause problems.

EA might own DAoC & Earth & Beyond, but it might be easier to turn a blind-eye to something which is tiny to them. Earth & Beyond is pretty much irrelevant.

Warhammer they never owned the IP for, so they simply might not care.

Ultma is the interesting one though. Ultma seems like an IP which has clear monetary value, something they could easily announce doing something new with (I know Mythic attempted that mobile thing), but haven’t really yet. Bit like Dungeon Keeper I suppose.
EA is sitting on a gold-mind of IP really.

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Castagere Shaikura

Earth & Beyond has at most 150 players online at its peak times. So i hope they ignore it.

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Evan Schultheis

Considering what they’ve done to SWTOR and where they’re going with it, they have no interest in doing anything new with Ultima. SWTOR’s budget was slashed the moment it launched and all of its devs reassigned. It was moderately successful for a few years but after KotFE expansion (4.0, Oct 2015) it dropped like a rock. The game’s budget and dev team is so small they can’t push out more than one kind of content at a time and the next expansion has been delayed till 2018, it used to be yearly.

It’s abundantly clear EA does not understand the resources required to maintain an MMO are just as extensive as the resources invested in making it. SWTOR is one of the few titles that actually could have competed with WOW, and they failed utterly.

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Jack Pipsam

But Ultima is more than just the MMO. There’s the entire legacy of classic RPGs. EA often gives them away for free on Origin or through GOG.

If they wanted to do something, there’s a lot they could do with Ultima beyond just UO.

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Bryan Gregory

I’m guessing there are a lot more people playing Battlefield games than any of those dead MMOs they own. Only reason they’d care. (no, Ultima Online is not “alive and well” and neither are any of those other games listed)

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kjempff

Well EA is not high on my list but to be fair, it is the same policy Daybreak has with project 1999. They may not distribute clients (or provide info on where to get clients), and may not use logos or otherwise indicate any relation to Daybreak.
So lets not cry wolf before it is here.

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Armsbend

EA business plan has always been to stop supporting their games after 2 years to push you into the newest one. No surprise here.

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Castagere Shaikura

Been playing the Earth & Beyond emulator for years. But they don’t take money to keep it running but take small donations if you are willing to give one. Hope they stay up .

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rafael12104

Ah, but EA is turning into a gaming service. Part of that new model will be to provide access to older games and that would include online games.

So these emulators may become competitors as it were.

So, yeah that term “gaming as a service” has stuck with me since they talked about it in a few recent interviews. I can see EA expanding that to include a subscription that allows you access of their older games.

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Sorenthaz

“Gaming as a service” is just a buzzword to mean “we’re going to make all of our games tempt you to keep playing while shoving more and more microtransactions into them.”

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Megalus Doomslayer

It’s a marketing term for “we aren’t greedy enough”. Instead of selling the old LAN clients, you’ll need to buy their new client and pay the monthly subscription to use their servers to play the titles you buy. Then, they’ll find a new racket to fuck that up even more.

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Sally Bowls

SaS – software as service – is trendy these days so why not copy the bigger software companies?

Besides, I interpret “gaming as a service” to be considerably influenced by most of the users being criminals and online games are more effective DRM than most.

https://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/JakubKasztalski/20171027/308436/So_5245_of_People_Playing_my_Indie_Game_Have_Pirated_it.php

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Evan Schultheis

Not to mention Star Wars: Galaxies. Though not originally an EA title, EA owns Star Wars.

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Hirku

Disney owns Star Wars, not EA. They just have a 10-year license to make SW games.

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Sorenthaz

A ten year license that can’t expire fast enough.

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Richard de Leon III

Odds are EA is the only publisher that has the money to renew it without worry. Unless someone can convince Activision to try (though honestly that might not be much better with activision embracing lootboxes too).

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Hirku

I agree completely with both of you, and now I’m depressed.

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Sally Bowls

I agree. Although Ten Cent is much larger than ATVI, EA, NCSoft, and SE combined so they have the money. But the Warcraft movie was larger in China than some of the SW movies so I don’t see Ten Cents motivation for Star Wars.

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Jack Pipsam

I don’t know who else would take it up though. The likes of SEGA I doubt can afford it (and even if they did, they’d be limited what they could do).

It seems outside of EA, maybe Warner Brothers would be both interested and have the cash to spare, they do the LEGO stuff. Then again Disney might keep them at a certain arms-length.

Activision and Ubisoft could afford it… but I really don’t get the vibe from them they’re actually super invested in the idea.

EA cannot only afford the licence, but has enough studios (and money to spend on said studios) to bring out Star Wars games (if they so wished). Others either couldn’t afford it or don’t seem interested.
EA however seems quite keen on Star Wars despite not doing much with it really.

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Hirku

Yeah, zero chance on Warner Bros. no matter how much money they have.

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Evan Schultheis

And they have the ability to shut down anything that uses the Star Wars logo. They did it to that Battlefront 3 project and are probably going to do it to the Apeiron remaster of KOTOR (which is within the terms of the fair use agreement, however, as it’s technically a mod.)