Delisting Mirror’s Edge Would Make No Sense

Games Features Electronic Arts
Delisting Mirror’s Edge Would Make No Sense

UPDATE: At some point today EA removed any mention of Mirror’s Edge from its blog post about games that will be delisted in April. Perhaps getting criticized and mocked across social media made the company reverse course; perhaps Mirror’s Edge was included in error to begin with. The official Twitter account for Battlefield, a series made by the same developer as Mirror’s Edge, tweeted that there are no plans to remove Mirror’s Edge from digital shops, so fortunately the game seems safe for now.

Earlier today EA announced that it will be removing Mirror’s Edge from digital stores on April 28, 2023, for no good reason at all. The company will be closing online servers for Mirror’s Edge and a handful of other games in December, including Battlefield 1943, Bad Company, and Bad Company 2, and it will stop selling all four games eight months in advance. Owners can continue to play the single-player content after the servers are down, but nobody will be able to buy digital versions of any of these games after April 28.

Videogame publishers routinely disrespect the history of the medium by making it difficult to legally play older games, but the sunsetting of Mirror’s Edge in particular is one of the most egregious examples of this unnecessary process. EA is pulling one of the best and most unique games of the last 15 years from stores because an optional, relatively insignificant online mode will no longer be playable. It’d be like making an acclaimed, influential TV show impossible to buy anywhere because the DVD bonus features were no longer accessible.

It’s become standard for publishers to delist online-focused games when their servers are shut down, because without servers you can’t really play online-focused games. Mirror’s Edge isn’t an online-focused game, though. The main part of the game, and the part that makes it just as great and distinctive today as it was in 2008, is the entirely offline single-player campaign. Adopting the perspective of a first-person shooter, this story subverts expectations by deemphasizing combat and focusing on non-stop motion. You can try to shoot or fight the goons chasing you, but that’ll almost always result in your death. Mirror’s Edge wants you to rush through its gleaming white skyline as quickly and elegantly as possible, in what remains a major break from what most first-person action games expect from you.

If you’ve played last year’s tremendous Neon White, it borrows greatly from the parkour-based motion of Mirror’s Edge. Even that hip indie favorite couldn’t resist the allure of guns, though, both as a crucial part of its locomotion and as a way to kill some enemies. Mirror’s Edge includes guns but goes out of its way to make them seem weak and ineffective in the hands of Faith, the character you take control of; in almost every situation it’s better to run than to try to shoot your pursuers. Released in the wake of genre-redefining first-person shooters like Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Halo 3, Mirror’s Edge was the rare big budget game from a major publisher that downplayed the importance of violence.

This is all the foundation of the game’s single-player campaign, which, again, is the primary focus of the game, and which doesn’t require servers to play. There’s a secondary mode, though, built around time trials, where you try to burst through levels as quickly as possible. This is all about making the leader board, competing asynchronously against both your friends and everybody else in the world who’s played the game, and obviously an online server is needed to save all that data. That’s the only part that would be impacted, though—an optional side mode that’s basically an afterthought to the tremendous single-player campaign.

It’s understandable that EA would get itchy to shut down the servers for an insignificant optional mode for a game that’s almost 15 years old. There can’t be that many people playing those time trials today. They could easily shut those servers down without making it impossible to buy the entire game, though. Mirror’s Edge’s campaign remains an important touchstone for the medium, and keeping it playable for new generations to discover is in the best interests of both EA as a company and gaming as a medium. Given the game’s notability, and the fact that shutting down its servers wouldn’t impact the main game itself, it’s ridiculous to delist Mirror’s Edge in its entirety.

Despite how ridiculous that would be, it also wouldn’t be remotely surprising. Again, games disappear from digital stores all the time. Sometimes the digital store itself just goes away forever, taking many games with it. Publishers have made some strides in preserving their history in recent years—remasters and retro comps arrive regularly, and the current owners of Atari recently established a new highpoint in honoring classics with its Atari 50 collection—but their interest in history still barely extends past whatever money they can make off off it. It’s bad enough that a whole swath of Battlefield games are effectively being closed off for new players, but the genuinely mindboggling decision to remove a single-player game would just underscore how little these companies care about preserving and honoring their own history.

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