The Unreal Tournament community started the year with a gut-punch when Epic shut off many older game servers including several beloved Unreal Tournament games like Unreal Tournament: Game of the Year Edition and Unreal Tournament 2004. The reason Epic gave was to move their online games to a new unified platform called Epic Online Services which would have modern comforts like a unified friends system and parental controls. Currently the Unreal Tournament series is no longer on digital store fronts for purchase but remain downloadable for players who previously purchased the games.
While some could argue that it simply wasn’t feasible to continue maintaining multiplayer servers that had been up for decades and they may be right (though it's important to note Epic owns Fortnite, one of the most lucrative games to date), there are alternative options as CEO of Edgegap Mathieu Durperre describes in an article. Well the Unreal Tournament community agrees and thanks to d10sfan’s contribution to the Luxtorpeda compatibility tool, players can experience one of the greatest arena shooters online again. Through Luxtorpeda the native Linux versions of the games can set custom master servers, servers maintained by the community instead of Epic, as the default servers and restore online multiplayer functionality.
It’s frustrating when companies don’t do more to preserve their online games. Especially when it seems they hold their legacy catalog in contempt. It could be easy for them. By either giving their loyal community the tools to run their own custom servers, or by subsidizing the cost of maintain the old servers until they have a modern solution. I would prefer the former from a preservation standpoint but having something is better than nothing.
A decade back, Microsoft shutdown the Halo 2 mutliplayer servers on Xbox Live (weeks after they said they would thanks to vocal fans) but eventually we got the Master Chief Collection for Xbox One and PC. While I am a big fan of the game, it wasn’t a perfect solution since you had to buy a whole new console in some cases to replay Halo 2 multiplayer.
What was worse was said multiplayer was botched at launch. Eventually it got to a playable state (though we’re still waiting on EAC to work on Deck) and manages to pull in almost as many currant players as Halo Infinite.
Personally I think Epic should have, at the least, just made the Unreal Tournament games free to download and said, “Hey we’re turning off the servers, I’m sure you’ll figure out something.” That way people could discover the games in the future. But now with the games off digital storefronts they’ll have to find other ways of getting the game. When there’s a will, there’s a way and that especially goes for the internet so I’m hopefully the Unreal Tournament community will continue with their custom servers long past 2023.
In addition to the community restoring online multiplayer to the previously released Unreal Tournament games, the community has even restored multiplayer to the pre-alpha of Unreal Tournament 4. By using the Unreal Tournament 4 Unofficial Mod and the UT4MasterServer GitHub projects players are able to once again take this pre-alpha game back online. What's notable is that it's far easier to aquire a copy of the game since Epic still hosts downloads for the official installer. There's a full guide by u/rea987 on the r/linux_gaming subreddit to get you up and running if you're interested.
So are you going to be firing up Unreal Tournament? Missed your chance to buy the games digitally? What games got shutdown that you miss (mine is Tribes Ascended)? Let us know in the comments down below!