Play These Games Now Before They're Gone for Good (2024)

Quick Links

  • Super Mario Maker 2

  • Forza Horizon 4

  • Tetris 99 and F-Zero 99

  • The Crew 2

  • Your Favorite Free-to-Play Multiplayer Games

  • Classic Battlefield Games

  • Dreams

  • A Whole Heap of MMOs

  • Overwatch 2

  • Splatoon 2 and Splatoon 3

  • Looming Remasters and Remakes

  • Make Hay While the Sun Shines

We live in an ever-changing golden age of interactive entertainment. With games being delisted from stores, servers being switched off, and player counts dropping, there’s no guarantee your favorites will be around for the long haul. So play them now, before they're gone.

Super Mario Maker 2

On April 9, 2024, Nintendo switched off online services for its 3DS and Wii U platforms. Because Super Mario Maker was exclusively released on those platforms, the entire catalog of user-made levels became inaccessible overnight.

News of the shutdown inspired a fan project to clear 26,000 unbeaten levels before the servers went dark. That was the only silver lining to an event that made millions of hand-made courses unplayable. Super Mario Maker 2, the Switch-exclusive sequel, is likely to meet the same fate when Nintendo decides it’s time to end support sometime in the future.

If you’ve not played a Mario Maker, the clue’s in the name. Make use of the various tools, themes, and options to design your own 2D Mario levels. Make them fun, hard, or entirely autonomous. Though the second game in the series is a good time, the original will be fondly remembered for justifying the Wii U's gimmick of gamepad and TV combination.

Play the sequel on Nintendo Switch now. You’ll need a Nintendo Switch Online membership to connect to the internet to play (or upload) levels.

Forza Horizon 4

Forza Horizon 4 is reaching the end of its life. Due to expiring licensing agreements, the game will be delisted from various storefronts and Game Pass on December 15, 2024. If you buy the game before this date you’ll still be able to play it, but it won’t be available for purchase after (and it won’t be on Game Pass either).

The same thing happened with previous Forza Horizon titles, including the third entry which took place in Australia. The fourth game takes place in the United Kingdom and manages to perfectly recreate rolling hills, quaint English villages, and dramatic Scottish vistas in a range of weather conditions. It's an S-tier arcade racing game.

There are still physical copies of Forza Horizon 4 floating around, so you can grab one of those (assuming your current Xbox console has an optical drive). Failing this, the game will be on sale until its eventual removal from the store. If you’re a Game Pass subscriber who bought the DLC, you should receive a code for a digital version of the full game so check your Xbox messages.

You should expect a similar fate to befall Forza Horizon 5, eventually.

Tetris 99 and F-Zero 99

Nintendo’s 99 formula reimagines the Battle Royale concept with beloved franchises like Tetris and F-Zero. These titles are free-to-play with a Nintendo Switch Online membership, pitting you against 98 other players to be the last person standing in a knockout tournament.

The action is made all the more frantic when you can see other players crashing out all around you. If you’re a fan of these games (or if you’re something of an expert) then you’ll have a blast. But don’t expect them to hang around forever.

99 games are dependent entirely on online multiplayer. There is no offline mode, which means that when the player numbers dwindle, the games will be a lot harder to play. Eventually, they will be retired, possibly even before online services for the Nintendo Switch are turned off for good.

Nintendo already shut down Super Mario 35, a time-limited iteration of the formula released to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Super Mario franchise. As the name suggests, this was a 35-player scramble to the end of a level. The game lasted six months from release.

The Crew 2

The Crew 2 might not be a particularly good game (according to OpenCritic), but it’s a game, and you can play it right now. Looking at publisher Ubisoft’s track record puts the game’s future in doubt. This is because the servers for prequel The Crew were switched off on April 1, 2024.

The game wasn’t even a decade old when the lights went out, and Ubisoft neglected to patch in an offline mode so that players who had purchased the game could continue to have fun on their own. The open-world racing game takes place in a scaled-down version of the United States, with always-online fucntionality. Though it had its flaws, it was unique and earned a following.

The Crew 2 was released in 2018, which means it’s six years old at the time of writing. If Ubisoft pulls a similar stunt again, you might only have a few years left to jump behind the wheel of this surprisingly mid racing game. The Crew Motorfest came out in 2023, so it has plenty of life left in it yet, but don’t bet on it being around forever.

If you own The Crew and miss it dearly, you might be interested to hear that modders are still working on bringing the game back online.

Your Favorite Free-to-Play Multiplayer Games

Battle Royale games were once all the rage, but their popularity has died down. We don’t expect Fortnite or Apex Legends to disappear any time soon, but given the number of free-to-play games that shut down last year, you’d better work on getting that chicken dinner sooner rather than later.

Two of the biggest names to bow out early in 2023 were EA’s dodgeball-themed Knockout City and Epic’s wrestling-themed Battle Royale Rumbleverse. While the former is available to play locally, over LAN, or on community-hosted servers, the latter was not only retired indefinitely but all in-game purchases were refunded too.

With so many games occupying the free-to-play space, don’t be surprised to see more titles disappear as player counts drop and rival games continue to pop up. Even Call of Duty: Warzone was shuttered last year (in favor of Warzone 2, but still).

Whatever you’re playing, be it Brawlhalla, Roller Champions, Paladins, The Finals or something far more obscure, enjoy it while the servers are hot.

Classic Battlefield Games

Did you know that the servers for Battelfield Bad Company, Bad Company 2, and Battlefield 1943 were retired by EA in 2023? These old-but-gold multiplayer shooters will be sorely missed, particularly since we haven’t had a Bad Company game in three generations.

EA is also shutting down the servers for Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4 on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in November of 2024, likely as a result of the Xbox 360 storefront closure. Even so, they’ll be the next titles to go on all platforms whenever EA decides it’s time to clear out the cobwebs.

The other problem with old shooters is that it can be hard to find a game since player counts are low. It shouldn’t surprise you that there aren’t many people playing Battlefield 1 anymore, despite it being one of the best portrayals of World War I in a video game. If you get the chance to experience it before literally nobody is playing, you should jump at the opportunity.

One day, only a massive LAN party will allow you to experience the carnage that is 64 players on classic Battlefield map.

Dreams

Sony released Dreams in early 2020, a game that promised to democratize game development by providing players with user-friendly tools and a platform on which to share. While it never worked out as well as many hoped, Dreams remains one of the most unique experiences in gaming.

In April 2023, developers Media Molecule announced that live support for Dreams was ending. Creations were to remain online and users would still be able to create and share as they had before. Though the main Dreams era has come to an end, the game persists for now.

Much like Super Mario Maker, this is a game that depends on user-generated content. With so many weird and wonderful creations available to download and experience, you should give Dreams a shot while you still can. The PlayStation 4 version works via backward compatibility on the PlayStation 5, and the game is available in the PlayStation Plus Extra catalog too.

A Whole Heap of MMOs

Like free-to-play multiplayer experiences, massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) are made and broken by their player base. So many MMOs have closed down over the years that it’s now accepted as an inevitability in all but a few exceptional circ*mstances.

Take beloved BioWare MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic as an example. After years of uncertainty, development moved from BioWare to Broadsword in 2023. Some fans were happy with the move, others were worried about what this could mean in the long term. EA is a company that seems to be moving away from officially licensed games (with both Star Wars and FIFA licenses recently on the chopping block), so who knows how long SWTOR will live on.

It’s hard to see heavy hitters like World of Warcraft or Elder Scrolls Online going away any time soon, but smaller MMOs that limp on with a small following of dedicated fans face less certainty. One member of the City of Heroes forum tallied up the daily player counts amid concern about the health of the game, and though things were better than many first thought, there were significant differences in the populations of various servers.

Overwatch 2

It’s no secret that Overwatch isn’t what it used to be. When the game first crashed onto the scene, it took the world by storm. Not only was it the multiplayer game of 2016 (and beyond), the game amassed an eSports following and a fanbase that seemed to adore its colorful cast.

The game was criticized for being left to stagnate over the next few years, but that was nothing compared to the bombshell that was Overwatch 2. Not only was the sequel free-to-play, but Blizzard saw fit to switch off the original Overwatch servers to force fans to move to the sequel to keep playing.

The Overwatch 2 story is long and complicated, but the game manages to limp by. Who knows what the future holds for the series, particularly now that Blizzard is owned by Microsoft? One thing’s for sure, if you want to experience the game, you'd better do it quick.

Splatoon 2 and Splatoon 3

Another victim of the Wii U and 3DS server shutdown, Splatoon’s servers went offline in early 2024. Though an acquired taste, Nintendo’s first crack at an online team-based multiplayer paint ‘em up was massively popular at the time and continues to live on today.

If you’re interested in picking up a brush, you’re better off sticking with Splatoon 3 which is still being supported by Nintendo (for now). Since Splatoon was released exclusively on Nintendo consoles, there's far less chance of fans being able to pick up the slack and host their own servers as is the case with PC releases.

Looming Remasters and Remakes

If a game is good enough to see a remaster, port, or remake, you’d expect it to stand the test of time. But all too often, games become even harder to play in the wake of a re-release.

Perhaps the most egregious example in recent years is Rockstar’s delisting of GTA III, Vice City, and San Andreas following the release of Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy — The Definitive Edition. The 2021 re-release was criticized for relying on sloppy, poorly optimized ports of the mobile games, with no way to buy the original (rusty but playable) versions instead.

Other examples include the original Dead Island and its sequel Riptide, Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition on the PC, Assassin’s Creed 3, and fan-favorite Warcraft 3. It’s not a certainty, but if you notice that beloved old title is due for a coat of paint, consider grabbing the original while you still can.

Make Hay While the Sun Shines

Any game that depends on a healthy player base can fall by the wayside. Even if the game is available for sale with active servers, if nobody wants to play then the game is as good as gone.

I remember the days of niche Half-Life mods like Science and Industry, Natural Selection and Action Half-Life (yes, I'm getting old). Even Day of Defeat and Counter-Strike 1.6 can be hard to play online at the wrong time of day.

With so many games available, big guns like Halo: Infinite have started to struggle with player counts. Fallout 76 is still going strong, but one day it will be a big empty wasteland (just like it was at launch, eh). Fortunately, games with local multiplayer modes tend to fare much better. For some ideas, check out our favorite couch co-op and local multiplayer games.

Play These Games Now Before They're Gone for Good (2024)

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