Rogue Games shuts down Vainglory servers, game moves over to Community Edition with free skins
We haven’t written about Vainglory here at XDA-Developers before, but some of us here have been long time players of the game. The game has found mentions in our reviews, as recent as the POCO X2 review and as early as the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 review. Vainglory gained popularity as a free-to-play Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) that focused on being mobile-first and then added in support for desktop later on, and eventually brought over cross-platform play across Android, iOS, Windows and Mac. Unfortunately, the game is now at a pivotal junction of its life, as its publishers Rogue Games have decided to shut down Vainglory servers outside of China, forcing the game developers to move the game over to a Community Edition model.
Vainglory was developed by Super Evil Mega Corp (SEMC) and was unveiled back in 2014 to demonstrate the iPhone 6’s gaming prowess through then-new graphic APIs. The Android version of the game arrived in 2015, with the aim to provide a MOBA experience similar to a LAN-party for League of Legends or DOTA 2. This goal was by-and-large successful, with the end result being a game that was decently enjoyable and not at all bogged down by annoying IAPs. The game achieved monetization through skins for the selectable heroes and these skins were merely cosmetic changes — you could still very much enjoy the game and its grind even if you did not put in any money into it. The reason Vainglory also made its way as a subject in reviews because it was one of those games that could work well across a wide range of hardware — from budget devices to proper gaming flagships. In fact, Vainglory also consistently features in the list of games that support 120Hz refresh rate on smartphones like the Razer Phone, the ASUS ROG Phone II, and even the upcoming OnePlus 8 series.
In November 2019, SEMC announced that it was entering a publishing partnership with Rogue Games, effectively giving Rogue Games the responsibility of operating and managing Vainglory outside of China, while freeing up SEMC to focus on their other projects (namely, Project Spellfire).
While the announcement does sound like good news sprinkled with a lot of optimism, things haven’t exactly gone that way. In a post on the Vainglory subreddit, SEMC CEO Mr. Kristian Segerstrale acknowledged that Vainglory is going through a rough patch. Rogue Games has decided to cease support for Vainglory and shut down its servers outside of China, killing the game for a brief period. SEMC has worked to regain control of these servers and these have now been brought back up, but with some drastic changes. For one, in-app purchases outside of China have been completely turned off, which has the side-effect of making available all hero skins to all players for free. Several in-game features like friends, chat, leaderboards etc. are now broken. The game has switched to a “client authoritative” mode (instead of server authoritative), meaning that instead of everything being handled by expensive servers, all matchmaking information will be stored on your device. This means that if you uninstall and reinstall, you will lose that information. Account import features will be added later.
Why are all these changes not affecting servers in China? That is because SEMC has a different publishing partner for that region: NetEase. This region is unaffected, so the servers and the game will continue as normal.
As perceivable, these changes do effectively kill what was a good game. Running game servers is expensive, both in terms of money as well as for resources, and SEMC expressed its inability to do so in the long run. Consequently, the company is exploring handing over the reins to the community — allowing the community to host servers directly, collect statistics, enter its own tuning values, and more. SEMC has talked about a 4-stage plan for transitioning the current Vainglory game to Vainglory: Community Edition, with the eventual goal being community-hosted servers that players can join. But this “Vainglory: Community Edition” remains a plan that has no defined ETA, and its difficult to not be pessimistic about this in our current timeline. It’s practically running the game in what is a “maintenance mode” for lack of a better word — so expect no new heroes, no new items, no new maps, and no more updates.
The SEMC team remains optimistic though, so if you are interested, you can check out the questions that they answered in their AMA.