Jump Force, the video game industry’s first true metaverse, is getting delisted just three years after release, publisher Bandai Namco announced in a blog post this week. What’s more, the game’s online services, including multiplayer matchmaking, will go dark a few months later.
First released in 2019, Jump Force is a crossover fighting game featuring a wide bench of characters who appear in popular Weekly Shonen Jump manga series. Shows like Bleach, Naruto, Black Clover, Hunter x Hunter, One Piece, Dragon Ball, Yu Yu Hakusho, and Rurouni Kenshin. Via downloadable content, you could get extra characters from each canon, including some laughably powerful fighters (hi, Naruto’s Madara Uchiha). The gimmick is that you always fight with a team of three, and are able to swap your fighter on the fly, so there’s a sort of rock-paper-scissors mentality to every match—trying to select specific characters that trump your opponent’s picks, and vice versa.
If you’ve been meaning to get around to grabbing it for the last couple of years, you’ll have to pick it up before February 7, 2022, after which it will no longer be sold via digital storefronts. (Jump Force is available on Steam, PlayStation, and Xbox, but the Nintendo eShop only offers the pricier deluxe editions.) But you’d only have access to the full game for a few months, as the online services will largely cease functioning on August 24, 2022. You’ll no longer be able to view leaderboards, or hop into the matchmaking lobby, nor will you be able to join online events. (The full list of ceased functions is here.) Though from that point you won’t be able to purchase any downloadable characters, you will be able to keep using any you’ve already picked up.
Oddly, despite the wide shutdown of online services, Bandai Namco’s official announcement says that “online battles” will still be available “after the end of online service.” It’s unclear what exactly that means, whether such battles are only available via direct-invite matchmaking with friends or what. Representatives for the publisher did not respond to a request for comment from Kotaku in time for publication.
Jump Force’s impending sunsetting is the latest example of how ephemeral game purchasing is in the era of digital storefronts. And in this case, it’s after only three years. That said, the lead time here is a bit longer than most.
In June, EA pulled games from the Syndicate and Ultima Underworld franchises with a few day’s notice. Ahead of tomorrow’s Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy - Definitive Edition, which offers a bundled package of the GTA III, Vice City, and San Andreas with revamped visuals and other changes, Rockstar delisted the originals. Just this weekend, Konami gave mere hours of notice when announcing the delisting of Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3. Konami says the move is temporary, but did not provide a time frame for when the games will return.