It seems that EA and DICE have, very quietly, been taking away official servers for the console versions of Battlefield 3. Worse still, it looks like they're replacing them with servers that fans have to pay for.
Earlier this year, it was announced that Battlefield fans could "rent" their own servers for $25-30 a month. Seemed like a good deal, especially when it lightened the load on the actual EA and DICE servers.
Yet searches now find that almost every server is one of these rented ones. Which is a problem, because the rules on these servers can be all over the place; those wanting a straight, official game are finding it tough. It's also an issue because it sure makes it look like EA and DICE are passing the cost of running this game onto consumers.
Pressed on Reddit as to why this is, DICE's Daniel Matros said "There is only so much physical space and digital space where you can have servers. The community requested [a rental program] and we delivered."
He did note later, though, that he would be taking the complaints back to DICE with him. Whatever that's worth.
UPDATE: An EA spokesperson tells us that DICE will "reserve a percentage of servers" for players who want DICE to host them. Full statement: " DICE is not shutting down servers. If DICE-managed servers appear unavailable, it is because they have been rented and customized by players. DICE will continue to add servers and will reserve a percentage of servers for players who prefer to connect through DICE-hosted servers.
"Custom Servers have always been extremely popular with Battlefield PC players. With Battlefield 3, we've introduced a Custom Servers program to console gamers. Response has been overwhelmingly positive. Custom Servers gives players the ability to tailor the settings and parameters of a given server, which directly affects gameplay. It also gives players more choice as they select which server and gameplay style they like best.
"As with any new innovation, there may be some confusion among players who are experiencing Custom Servers for the first time. We encourage players to use server filters and 'favorite' options to find the servers that best suit their play style. We have enormous respect for the Battlefield community and are listening to the feedback. It is our #1 priority to ensure all players are having the best possible play experience."
Official DICE servers disappear from Battlefield 3 [VentureBeat]