Warhawk is a third-person military shooter that came out on PS3 in 2007. Over a decade before Call of Duty thought to do it, Warhawk ditched the standard single-player campaign to focus instead on multiplayer only. Last month, Sony announced the game’s servers would finally be abruptly shutting down on October 25. Thirty days’ notice might not seem abrupt for an 11-year-old game, but the back of Warhawk’s box specifically stated any server shutdowns would be announced 90 days in advance.
Warhawk isn’t the only PS3 game to sunset this month. In late September, Sony also announced that Twisted Metal and PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale would be losing their online modes on October 15. Unlike those games, however, which have story modes and local coop that can still be played offline, Warhawk’s continued existence depends on remote servers. Individual matches will still be playable on PS3s set to LAN mode on local networks but that will be it. Warhawk won’t be playable on PS Now, Sony’s game streaming service, after the shutdown either.
While the game was downloadable on PSN when it came out, Sony also published physical versions, with language on the back of the box about the future of the game’s servers. “SCEA reserves the right to retire the online portion of this game with 90 days notice,” it said, using the acronym for Sony Computer Entertainment America (the previous name for Sony’s North America PlayStation business). SOCOM U.S. Navy SEALs: Confrontation was another online shooter released for PlayStation 3 a year later. The back of its boxes said the same. At the time when PSN was still fairly new (and free), and online-centric games were rare, especially ones packaged for physical sale, spelling out the explicit terms of the arrangement made sense.
SOCOM had its servers shutdown on August 31, 2012. Unlike Warhawk though, that announcement was made 90 days in advance. When asked for comment, Sony told Kotaku the timing of the decision had to do with the sudden decommissioning of the physical location where the servers used for Warhawk were held, but would not elaborate further about why it had failed to adhere to the notice on its own packaging.
While the PlayStation Store page for the game notes that its servers are shutting down on October 25, the announcement page within the game itself hasn’t been updated with the new information.
Meanwhile, the game’s subreddit, such as it still exists with a few hundred subscribers and a handful of people online at any given time, is filled with posts of players saying their goodbyes and seeing if there’s a way to salvage the game. One of the most popular threads currently is for people trying to reverse engineer the game’s servers so they can be recreated and run through a third-party. Another player is simply trying to platinum the game before it vanishes from PSN.
Dylan Jobe, the game’s director, posted pictures of the game’s servers long ago over on the PlayStation Blog. While the game was built to use individual players’ PS3s as servers, Sony also supplied official ones: racks of PS3s mounted one on top of the other. It’s unclear if those are the same servers that will be shut down on Thursday.
[Update - 3:34 p.m. 11/5/18]: The server shutdowns for Warhawk and other games have been delayed until January 31, 2019. A Reddit user named Ember_Rising claimed last Friday they received an email announcing the news from Sony, and the company’s status page for game server shutdowns has been updated with the new dates for Twisted Metal and PlayStation: All-Stars Battle Royale, in addition to Warhawk. Sony did not immediately respond to a request for comment explaining the change which adds three month months to each game’s online lifespan.
[Update - 5:00 p.m. 11/6/18]: Sony gave Kotaku the following statement:
“As a result of a physical server location being decommissioned, a service shut down was originally planned for October 25, 2018, which impacts the online access for Warhawk, Twisted Metal, PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale, and Sound Shapes. Upon further evaluation, we have been able to extend the online service for these PS3 titles until January 31, 2019.
Following this shutdown, local network play will still be available for Warhawk when the PS3 system is set to LAN mode. For Twisted Metal and PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale, users can play the campaign offline as well as local (couch) multiplayer in split screen mode. For Sound Shapes, users will be able to play the campaign and all DLC purchases as well as create their own levels, however, they will not be able to share their levels with the community or download community created levels.”