There’s a problem with online console gaming (and most MMOs). There’s a non-trivial effort required to maintain the server, lobby and match-making infrastructure which is nowhere near as glamorous as or perhaps as rewarding as developing the game.
For instance, the Resistance series is about to die:
If you’re a fan of Sony’s OTHER first person franchise – you know the one with aliens, not space fascists – you may want to tuck in this weekend as Sony will be shutting down the servers on April 8th. FOREVER.
This plagues consoles and how many MMOs have shuttered over the last four years, consigning to the bitbucket millions of hours of labour and craft in leveling, grinding and adding pretty textures.
It’s also affected the mobile industry as the early winners consolidate their gains. You only have to look at OpenFeint to see what happens. Matchmaking gone, leaderboards defunct.
For PC games, it’s been a little different. Some of them rely on the client-server model and they can lose their vital connection to ” lobby” services. Few have managed to transition them to community owned third- party services. But I can start a game that, without official lobby access, still manages to function.
There are reasons for doing it both ways but in my opinion if you’re going to shutter a service, it behooves you to find ways to work with the community.
My preferred solution is one that we thought of in Conquest Dynamics. Reducing the server component as much as possible while still allowing for match-making, interaction and sticky services. It does mean maintaining a server of some sort to act almost like a Torrent Tracker – a centralised location for the servers present in every client to find each other. We’re still working on it.