A supermarket employee suffers fatal misfortune and goes careening into the baked beans display. Customers dig the man out from underneath several hundred tin cans and find his broken battered body. The dying employee beckons towards the crowd. Undaunted, somebody steps forth and leans closer. The employee croaks out his last words and expires. ‘What did he say?’ the rest of the crowd asks. The listener replies ‘He said there’s a 3 for 1 offer on the baked beans.’
That header image is all that remains of the Darkspore website, as it deftly promotes other EA services with its dying breath. The action RPG Diablo-like cousin of Spore released back in 2011 to middling reviews and had a troubled history of server issues which at times rendered the game unplayable, so it won’t be especially missed. On March 1st 2016 the servers were shut down for good.
This comes as little surprise. EA shutting down servers is a yearly ritual with the sheer amount of franchises owned by the giant publisher, though in this case the impact goes beyond making a multiplayer function inaccessible. Darkspore was intrinsically tied to EA’s servers, requiring a persistent online connection even for its single-player component. Every copy of Darkspore has been made permanently unplayable to consumers, all but banishing the title from gaming history. Even reverse engineering Darkspore may not be possible. It’s unclear exactly how much the features were reliant on EA’s servers by design, and without the source code some games are incredibly difficult to reconstruct. Regardless, Darkspore’s survival is now dependent on those willing to face the legal uncertainty of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
I recently learned about Darkspore from Youtube Channel Accused Farms and highly recommend checking out his video. The issue of preservation is only going to get more prevalent as time goes on.