GameSpy's shutdown spells doom for numerous PC games, but you can dodge disaster

News of the demise of some vital gaming component is not a big deal, thanks to the self-correcting power of the PC games community.

GameSpy is shutting down on May 31, and the Internet is furious. See, there's this list floating around of all the multiplayer PC games that will be rendered unplayable by the imminent demise of this matchmaking middleware. It's a doozy of a list--something like seventy games potentially affected.

And we're not talking My Barbie Dreamhouse. These are games near and dear to people's hearts:

Battlefield 2142. Star Wars Battlefront 2. Arma 2. Civilization IV. Crysis. Far Cry. Borderlands. Medieval II: Total War. Quake III Arena. Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. And about sixty others.

I mean, wow. Not since Xbox Live shut down on the original Xbox have we seen so many beloved games lose their online components at once.

So if I came along and said "It's not as bad as it seems," you would celebrate, right? We could throw a party in the virtual streets, break out the champagne, and play a few more rounds of Battlefront II.

Well, dearest PC gamers, it's not as bad as it seems.

Don't panic

The PC crowd tends to spot damage early and then route around it, whether that means fan-made patches for games like Knights of the Old Republic II or, in this case, an entire secondary system built to prevent just such a catastrophe as seventy games losing Internet matchmaking.

Scott Kevill developed GameRanger, an Internet gaming service, for the Mac in 1999 and released a PC client in 2008. It has some limitations (like no voice chat unless you buy a premium subscription) but the service allows you to host and play games online, effectively duplicating the functionality found in GameSpy--as long as you know it's out there. GameRanger isn't baked into the games themselves, so you'll have to grab it from the website first and run it as a standalone program.

But it's the solution to many of the current GameSpy issues, and Kevill has been going around Reddit trying to calm people's fears. A number of games on the original list are already playable through GameRanger--Battlefront II, Civilization IV, Borderlands, Quake III Arena, Medieval II: Total War, and a host of others. Then there are a number of games Kevill knows can be added to GameRanger, although they're not up yet--games like Battlefield 2142, Far Cry, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, and Halo: Combat Evolved.

The only ones he seems unsure about are a dozen or so games at the end, including Crysis and Arma 2, but GameRanger's capabilities greatly blunts the blow that GameSpy's shut-down could've potentially been. And beyond GameRanger, Bohemia has already been out there discussing a custom, built-in Arma solution, and they're not the only developer talking about overhauling games to get rid of GameSpy prior to the shutdown.

The online world isn't ending. These games aren't going away. If there's one thing I've learned about PC gaming, it's that there's someone out there who loves these games so much that he or she is willing to sacrifice long hours to ensure everything still works.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some AT-ATs to take down.

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