Many Need For Speed Games Are About To Be Erased From Reality

Many Need For Speed Games Are About To Be Erased From Reality
Screenshot: EA

Publishers, like entropy, will eventually destroy everything. Rather than preserving their games like the works of art they should think they are, instead the instinct is more usually to go to enormous lengths to make them impossible to play. The latest victims of these murderous antics are many of the Need For Speeds released between 2006 and 2011.

Via Reddit (while most the English-speaking world was on a holiday), it’s been announced that Need For Speed: Carbon, Need For Speed: Undercover, Need For Speed: Shift, Shift 2: Unleashed and Need For Speed: The Run will be “retired”. Which I suppose is an apposite word, given they’ll be limping off the tracks as they leave digital storefronts today, and their servers switched off come the end of August.

The reasons given are the usual: that maintaining servers for the few remaining players is prohibitively expensive, and hey, look, they’ve released loads of (astoundingly poor) NFS games since then, so you could buy those instead!

“[T]he number of players has come to a point where it’s no longer feasible to continue the work behind the scenes required to keep [the games] up and running. We hope you have gotten many victories, satisfying drifts, moments of friendly rivalry, and hours of joy over the last few years out of these games. And we hope you’ll keep driving with us in one of our newer titles…”

It’s always this way. “Shrug! What else could we do?!” Well, here are some other things they could do:

  • They could release the source code for the 10-15 year old games, and allow others to continue their development in the public domain
  • They could release the server code for the games, to allow enthusiasts to continue to host the few dedicated players remaining
  • They could offer to upgrade players to one of the many NFS games of the 2010s (although this may be crueller than just nothing at all)
  • They could recognise that last year EA made a revenue of $US5.5bn, and it’s likely they could just about afford to leave the servers on with minimal maintenance, without taking too big of a hit

Delisting them from stores just seems… petty! Sure, they don’t offer all the available features when the servers are off, but come on. Quarter the prices — hell, be decent enough to make them free — and let people buy them as single-player artefacts of the past.

The deliberate, meticulous erasure of video gaming history is frankly morbid. Sure, right now I don’t feel like I could ever care less about the horrendously flogged and flayed horse that is the gruesome remains of the Need For Speed franchise, so what, right? But no, because I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve wanted to replay something from 15, 20, 30 years ago, and found that it’s utterly impossible to legally purchase anywhere. I’ve reported far too many times about games no one is able to sell because neglect has meant their rights have become lost in miserable tangles between multiple publishers. It’s just short-sighted and utterly stupid.

For goodness sakes, if you’re so absolutely determined that no one should be able to legally buy your game that you’ll go to these extremes, just release them into the public domain. It’s the only decent thing to do. Thank goodness for projects like Internet Archive’s Software Library.


  • NFS The Run is the 1 NFS game that just always escaped me.. I liked the premise, but never got to play it.. and now I probably never will.. oh well..

    • honestly, youre not missing much. it was a limited number of point to point tracks that you then replay in reverse, with some “cinematic” quick time event laden bridging levels. it was a reasonably attractive game at its release, but also suffered from technical issues due to using the frostbite engine in a way it was never designed to be used (you can thank EA for that).
      its worth $5 just to say youve played it, but thats about it.
      not sure i understand the logic behind taking these games off the stores completely. do store fronts like steam charge on going fees for the content delivery system regardless of whether sales are being made? cause i see no other reason why they shouldnt just discount the price and add a disclaimer that online content is no longer available (which was never the point of any of the listed games, they were single player first and foremost, i only recall online being used for friends leaderboards in autolog).

      • Its only really worth playing once. After that it has basically no replay value. Not to mention it was and still is notoriously buggy. I barely works on pc, same on 360 and doesnt work on ps3 most of the time.

  • I’m pretty sure that this is not a decision that is completely in EA’s hands. The servers being shut down? Absolutely, that’s 100% on them. But these games contain so much licensed content, that as soon as one piece of it expires, they can no longer sell the game without committing copyright violations. Both the cars modelled in the game, and the soundtracks of popular music, all licensed. Unless they acquired irrevocable lifetime licenses at the time of development, this day would always have come.

    Also, I find it slightly ironic that two of these games listed are the Shift sub-series, developed by Slightly Mad Studios, who they tried to get the technology of at the time… and they finally acquired them within the past few months as part of the Codemasters purchase, and then near-enough to immediately delete their games from availability.

  • They really do need to have a way to just switch some of these games to Offline Mode so you don’t need the server to play.

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