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lordnikon
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Posted:
Mon Dec 03, 2007 10:42 am
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On December 31st, 2007 the last 2 remaining Capcom Online games in North America and PAL Regions will be going offline. This includes Monster Hunter, and Resident Evil Outbreak. This has zero effect on the Japanese versions, as they are managed and controlled by Capcom of Japan. These server terminations are the result of tragic circumstances, rather than a conscious decision to take the games offline. Below is the original post made by Seth Killian, an Administrator at the Capcom USA forum. Please see my comments that follow to understand exactly why these games are prematurely going offline.


Seth Killian wrote:
This news was just confirmed internally, and I wanted people to know ASAP.

After more than 3 years of online service, the external company providing server hosting for both Resident Evil: Outbreak and Monster Hunter has decided to exit the PlayStation 2 online business altogether, with no possibility of outsourcing either the service or the technology.

This means that online gameplay for both games will come to an end on December 31, 2007. Fortunately, the single-player campaigns in both games will be unaffected by this change and will continue to provide hours of entertainment on both PlayStation 2 and backwards-compatible PlayStation 3 hardware. Thank you for supporting Capcom’s online titles over the years!

--

And just so you know, although these are older titles, we did want to make an effort to keep the fans happy and continue supporting online play. We've tried to extend the contract, move it someplace else, etc. It's not happening. The hosting partner (who I guess remains nameless here) is just quitting the business entirely and doesn't want to mess around with the time/money involved in porting anything. Thanks to everyone who has kept these games fun online for so many years.

best,
Seth
__________________
--
Seth Killian
Capcom Entertainment Inc. -- Senior Manager, Community

Sources:
Capcom USA Forum Announcement
Capcom Europe Forum Announcement


Much like Sega's IP troubles with Alien Front Online on the Dreamcast, Capcom is at the mercy of the hosting provider who has decided to go out of business. The hosting company is unwilling to spend the time/money to transfer server hardware or mirror the hard-drives for Capcom. Does this mean Capcom is now unable to get these games back online? No. It just means it would require a bit of work. They would need to start all over again, securing and configuring a new game server, at a different hosting company. Capcom has control over the software necessary to play these games online. Capcom licensed the online gaming development SDK known as "SNAP" from Sega back in 2002, which was used in all Playstation 2 Online titles created by Capcom.

So could these games be online still? Of course. However it would require some of Capcom's IT staff to put in a few extra hours at work to get it all done.

Just to put things into perspective, here is how it probably went down at Capcom:

(NOTE: This is merely a hypothetical scenario based on my years of experience researching online game terminations)

  1. Capcom USA is informed that the servers will be getting axed by the struggling hosting provider. Upon hearing this they call a meeting with some management, IT staff, and community administrators. Localization teams or Game Developers were probably not invited.

  2. In this meeting they try to assess what their options are and whether the games can still be online.

  3. The Management/Suits could really care less. They are only concerned about dollar signs, and these games have already sold their fair share at retail. So keeping the games online would have zero immediate impact on Capcom's Stock prices or Quarterly earning statements. These employees manage people and bureaucracy. They have little to no involvement in the technical/creative side of things. Cost / Benifit would be their primary concern, and few companies understand why keeping games online is a good thing. In-fact the current practice by many is to terminate an existing game to force users to migrate to a newer game in the series. What they don't realise is that while it causes people to spend money while upgrading, it also erodes away the dedicated fanbase.

  4. The IT staff could have little attachment to this game, with an indifference to keep the game online. The Monster Hunter / Resident Evil server problem to them is probably a "bothersome issue" that they would prefer to let fade away into oblivion.

  5. The Community Admins are most likely the few people that are sympathetic enough to want these games online. The only problem is that they would need the Management to approve purchasing the hardware/hosting, and IT to setup the server software. In this situation they are "up a river without a paddle" so to speak.

  6. The work involved in restoring these games required more effort than they were willing to put forth. In the end, they most likely agreed that these games should go offline instead of being resurrected.

Now, just like when Auto Modellista and Resident Evil Outbreak File 2 went offline last spring, many Capcom fans are up in arms expressing their frustrations on the Capcom forums. Some are outright angry and are venting vulgar retorts to Capcom staff, while others are deeply saddened and frustrated that their online experience is being cut short. It is interesting to read their comments. As many of you know this is nothing new, as we have all been through this at OnlineConsoles since the Dreamcast days, and is the primary reason why OC exists in the first place.

Luckily we still have an alternative to play the PS2 version of Monster Hunter over the internet, with the PSP iteration which is essentially the same exact game. As explained in a previous news post, OC will be making a rare exception to the rule by supporting Monster Hunter on the PSP as an alternative to the PS2 version. For more information read this post.

Monster Hunter on the PS2 is one of those games like many on the Dreamcast that I was so passionate about, yet had to endure seeing them terminated with no available alternatives to play them online. On the PSP, Monster Hunter Freedom is a carbon copy version of the PS2 original in terms of both gameplay, and graphics. The PSP is essentially a portable PS2. We should be thankful that Monster Hunter Freedom has the functions necessary to play such an amazing game in a network environment regardless of publisher support. What makes the Dreamcast connection even more pertinent is the fact that Monster Hunter, and many of the greatest Dreamcast Online games like Outtrigger and Daytona USA all shared the same network SDK known as SegaSNAP. With Monster Hunter on the PSP I feel it is a minor victory, in the struggle to play Japanese developed console games online well into the future.

With this news of pending server terminations I have already begun making the necessary forum adjustments here at PS2 OC. The Monster Hunter forum has been moved to the Past Online Games area, and 2 new forums have been created for the PSP versions of Monster Hunter Freedom 1 and 2. The REO forum in the Past Online Games area now reads "Resident Evil Outbreak - File 1 & 2".

I will be posting more information in the coming weeks about what you need to play Monster Hunter online with the PSP, as well as hardware options for playing your new PSP slim model on a CRT display at the PSP's native resolution (which means no necessary up-scaling, and no in-put lag).

--

Ben Pekarek
Director / Founder
www.onlineconsoles.com
  _________________
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