In rather sudden news, EA announced earlier this morning that Need for Speed Carbon, Need for Speed Undercover, Need for Speed Shift, Need for Speed Shift 2: Unleashed, and Need for Speed The Run would be removed from all digital storefronts effectively immediately.
This decision affects Microsoft’s Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X console families as well as any online stores that were selling the digital versions of the games for Windows PCs.
While this move does prevent new customers from buying these five Need for Speed video games digitally, current owners will still be able to download and play them as usual until August 31st after which all online functionality will be disabled. Offline/local gameplay should still work indefinitely.
“Decisions to retire games are never made easy, but we are now shifting gears to focus on the future of Need for Speed,” the official announcement post by an EA community manager reads. “The development teams and operational staff have put a lot of time and passion into the development, creation, release and upkeep of the game over the years, and we love to see you play. But the number of players has come to a point where it's no longer feasible to continue the work behind the scenes required to keep Need for Speed Carbon, Need for Speed Undercover, Need for Speed Shift, Need for Speed Shift 2: Unleashed and Need for Speed The Run up and running.
“We hope you have gotten many victories, satisfying drifts, moments of friendly rivalry, and hours of joy over the last few years out of these games. And we hope you'll keep driving with us in one of our newer titles - Need for Speed Most Wanted (2012), Need for Speed Rivals, Need for Speed (2015), Need for Speed Payback, Need for Speed Heat and Need for Speed Hot Pursuit Remastered - many of which are available via our EA Play subscription. Pedal to the metal.”
Need for Speed Carbon was the tenth title in the need for Speed franchise when it originally came out in 2006 on Windows and both the original Xbox and the Xbox 360 consoles. Need for Speed Undercover launched on the Xbox 360 and Windows in 2008 and was soon followed by Need for Speed: Shift on Xbox 360, Windows, and Windows Phone.
Shift 2: Unleashed came out in 2011 and, like many of its predecessors, also launched on Xbox 360 and Windows. Need for Speed: The Run came out later that same year, also on Xbox 360 and Windows.
The sunsetting of a title’s online functionality, and even the complete delisting of digital games, isn’t uncommon and frequently reignites discussions amongst gamers and developers about the loss of electronic media and pop culture history.
Fortunately, a growing number of organizations have expressed interest in preserving video games for future generations with many already having begun the process. The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA), for example, announced in late-2020 that they would begin archiving a wide variety of video game software and hardware from over the last 40 years.
“We aim to be the national leader in collecting multimedia and new media content, and it would be impossible to accurately represent modern life without games” the NFSA’s CEO, Jan Müller, said in a statement. “It is essential that games be collected alongside other audiovisual media, to ensure their continued preservation and access.”