EA Closing Down Online Play For 25 Old Sports Games [Updated]

As happens every year around this time, Electronic Arts is ending online service for many old games, the majority of them sports titles. The publisher's Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-Earth series also is affected.

The closures mean largely that only the two most recent titles in EA's FIFA, Madden, NCAA Football, NHL and Tiger Woods PGA Tour series will be supported online. NBA Live 10, which received a roster update to compensate for the cancellation of NBA Elite 11, will now be the only pro basketball title supported; NCAA Basketball 10, the last edition in a series canceled earlier this year, is also the last one with online support. In the NCAA Football series on PS2, only NCAA 11 will be supported online.

Notable closures include Fight Night Round 3 on the PS3 and Xbox 360, FIFA Street on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and NFL Head Coach 09, the last entry in that American football management simulation.

Elsewhere, the expiration of a licensing deal on Dec. 31 meant the end of online services for The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle Earth, its sequel, and The Rise of the Witch King, all on PC. The Xbox 360 version of the game will lose online support next Tuesday.

In a statement, EA said the games scheduled for shutdown "represent roughly 1 percent of all peak online players across all EA titles.

"Despite some people's perception," the company added, "there is a lot of behind-the-scenes work involved with keeping these older games up and running. We would rather our hard-working engineering and IT staff focus on keeping a positive experience for the other 99% of customers playing our more popular games."

In an official statement on Thursday, Jeff Brown, EA's vice president of corporate communications, clarified the company's policy is to "[offer] server support for catalogue titles while there is a minimum population of people playing. It is a common practice to sunset servers for catalogue titles when player levels fall below a minimum threshold." The Lord of the Rings sunsetting is entirely because of the expiration of EA's licensing agreement with Tolkien Enterprises.

The full list of games losing online service:

Closed Dec. 31
The Lord of the Rings, The Battle for Middle-earth for PC
The Lord of the Rings, The Battle for Middle-earth II for PC
The Lord of the Rings, The Battle for Middle-earth II, The Rise of the Witch-king for PC

Closing Jan. 11
The Lord of the Rings, The Battle for Middle-earth II for Xbox 360
The Lord of the Rings, The Battle for Middle-earth II, The Rise of the Witch-king for Xbox 360

Closing Jan. 17
The Sims Carnival

Closing Feb. 8
FIFA 07 for Xbox 360
FIFA 08 for PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii
FIFA 09 for PC, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii
FIFA 09 Ultimate Team for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360
FIFA Street 3 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360
FIFA Manager 10 for PC
Fight Night Round 3 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360
Madden 09 for PlayStation Portable (all regions), PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii
Madden 10 for PlayStation Portable (all regions), PlayStation 2 and Wii
NBA Live 08 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360
NBA Live 09 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii
NCAA Basketball 08 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360
NCAA Basketball 09 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360
NCAA Football 07 for Xbox 360
NCAA Football 08 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360
NCAA Football 09 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360
NCAA Football 10 for PlayStation 2
NFL Head Coach 09 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360
NHL 08 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360
NHL 09 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360
UEFA Euro 2008 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360
2010 FIFA World Cup for PlayStation Portable and Wii
2010 FIFA World Cup Demo for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360

Closing March 1
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 for Wii

Online Service Updates [Electronic Arts]