EA pulls the plug on one of the best RTSs ever made

, | Games

Electronic Arts has posted the names of the games whose online functionality will be cut off this year. The page is called “Online Service Updates”, which is one hell of a euphemism. That’s like listing the casualties in a war and calling them “Order of Battle Updates”. As I read up the list of impending demises, it’s mostly sports games, so I couldn’t care less. Besides, don’t they keep cycling in new sports games? I mean, it’s understandable that they’d cut off support for Tiger Woods Football ’08 so that you’d buy Tiger Woods Football ’09. Lame, but understandable. But then I come to something not unlike a punch to the stomach.

Are you ready for an EA sucker punch?

Dig this:

Dec 31, 2010 Online Service Shutdown
The Lord of the Rings, The Battle for Middle-earth for PC
The Lord of the Rings, The Battle for Middle-earth II for PC
The Lord of the Rings, The Battle for Middle-earth II, The Rise of the Witch-king for PC

Gah! I still play that! I played it just a few weeks ago! It’s still an awesome RTS and it would easily make my list of the top ten RTSs of all time. Of all time! And now it has no multiplayer support unless you’re on a LAN.

If you go online and try to log in to the servers, you get no message about support being cut off. Instead, the login simply times out without explanation (pictured). If you go to the game’s product page, there’s no warning that the online functionality has been killed. If you and a friend buy this game so you can play each other — which I’d normally recommend that you do, since it’s an awesome RTS — you have no way of knowing that there is no longer an option to do it online.

What a shame. Battle for Middle Earth II came out in 2006. I honestly can’t think of any RTSs released in the last five years that no longer work online. Electronic Arts is in a class all by itself.

At least you can still play the Xbox 360 version, right? I mean, it’s not like EA can shut down Xbox Live. Oh, look:

Jan 11, 2011 Online Service Shutdown
The Lord of the Rings, The Battle for Middle-earth II for Xbox 360
The Lord of the Rings, The Battle for Middle-earth II, The Rise of the Witch-king for Xbox 360

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