Game preservation — and how long developers should maintain online services — has been a hotly debated topic in the gaming community in the past few years, particularly now that more and more games rely on their online functionality for essential features. And now, Bandai Namco US’ announcement that it will be ending support for its Jump Force game has fans talking about this crucial issue again.
Jump Force is a 1v1 tag-team fighting game that first came out in 2019 and a port hit the Nintendo Switch in August 2020. The game was developed by Spike Chunsoft and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment. The game was made in collaboration with magazine publisher Shueisha, and it was designed to celebrate 50 years of their popular Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine. Because of the magazine’s impressive history, the game was a who’s who of shonen manga protagonists, featuring characters from legendary series like Dragon Ball Z, One Piece, and Naruto.
However, Bandai Namco has ended support for the game and their official statement says the game will leave stores on February 2, 2022, “Our sincere thanks goes out to all Jump Force players and fans for their support; but with all good things, they must come to an end.” In August, online services for the game will totally shut down. This means that after this date, the game’s online lobbies, events, online ranking services, and online shop will be unavailable.
All of which is a massive blow for a fighting game, which tends to live or die based on their online multiplayer support. However, players who own the game will still have access to offline content, but that hasn’t placated fans, many of whom Tweeted their disappointment with the decision.
Some were curious why the game was delisted so quickly, noting that the game will have only been active for around three years by the time it shutters, tiny amount of time for a competitive fighter game. “I never expected Jump Force to do good but I also never expected it to get delisted this soon,” wrote one fan. “Assuming it’s licensing stuff, another studio has a Bleach game coming soon I think?,” the fan continued, speculating that a licensing issue meant that Bandai Namco could no longer use some of the game’s characters.
This wouldn’t be the first time this has happened. Earlier in the year, the online horror game Dead By Daylight announced that its Stranger Things themed DLC pack would be removed due after the studio lost licensing rights for the characters.
Others analyzed why the game was a failure, with many digging up the controversy surrounding the game at the time of release. They revived frequent criticisms of the game’s action-figure like graphics, frequent bugs, and game-breaking issues, and its lack of dubbed voices, despite most of the shows represented having established English voice casts.
“Jump Force was so funny,” joked one gamer, summarizing the string of issues players had with the game, “‘To appeal to the western market we will make our game look bad but not dub it, also we released as one of the most laughably broken games of the gen. Oh god we’re dead after 3 years.'”
Before long, the memes trickled in.
One observed on Twitter, “Game is called Jump Force; it barely got off the ground.”
The end of Jump Force is a massive blow for fans of both crossover fighting games and the Shōnen Jump characters who were represented in the roster. This is just one more example of how reliant on online services can quickly vanish, making game preservation extremely difficult.