Epic is delisting almost every Unreal game, but making Unreal Tournament 3 free

Unreal Tournament 3 screen
(Image credit: Epic Games)

Epic Games announced today that it is switching off "out-of-date online services and servers" for a number of its older games, including the Rock Band and Unreal games, as it moves to exclusive support of Epic Online Services.

Epic's online services SDK originated in Fortnite, and handles everything from basics like friends lists, voice chat, and matchmaking to more developer-focused functionality like inventory and purchase management, game analytics, and support requests. Earlier this year it was expanded to include crossplay support, first with PlayStation and then between Epic and Steam.

With that system now well established, Epic is moving "to solely support Epic Online Services with its unified friends system, voice chat features, parental controls, and parental verification features." That means Epic's older online games are being cut loose. The good news is that most of those games will remain playable offline, either solo or with local multiplayer.

Impacted games that will remain playable include:

  • 1000 Tiny Claws
  • Dance Central 1-3 ("Note: Dance Central VR online multiplayer will remain available")
  • Green Day: Rock Band
  • Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess
  • Rock Band 1-3 ("Note: Rock Band 4 online multiplayer will remain available")
  • The Beatles: Rock Band
  • Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars
  • Unreal Gold
  • Unreal II: The Awakening
  • Unreal Tournament 2003
  • Unreal Tournament 2004
  • Unreal Tournament 3 ("Note: We have plans to bring back online features via Epic Online Services in the future.")
  • Unreal Tournament: Game of the Year Edition

Those games will also be removed from sale on all digital storefronts, and in-game DLC purchases will be disabled. For some reason, Epic has also pulled the Mac and Linux versions of Hatoful Boyfriend and Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star, although it remains available for purchase on Steam.

A handful of games will become completely inaccessible after the switch is flipped. That includes Battle Breakers, which is shutting down on December 30, and Rock Band Blitz, the Rock Band Companion app, SingSpace, and the alpha version of the 'new' Unreal Tournament that was announced in 2014, all of which will be closed on January 24, 2023. Players who made purchases in Battle Breakers using Epic's direct payment system within the past 180 days will be given refunds automatically.

The end of online services for Unreal Tournament games isn't quite the same as it is for newer shooters. Players can presumably still set up dedicated servers that others can connect to and play on, but without a master server list for server browsers to access, players will need to know the IP of the server they want to join in order to get into a game. That's not really a problem for a group of friends who want to get together online for some UT2K4 action, but it does mean that jumping into random pickup games is no longer an option.

There is a spot of good news amidst all the darkness. Epic is apparently bringing back Unreal Tournament 3, originally released in 2007, as Unreal Tournament 3 X, fully free and cross-platform between Steam, EGS, and GOG. There's been no official announcement at this point and Epic declined to comment further (although in the announcement it did note that it has"plans to bring back online features" for UE3), but the Unreal Tournament 3 Steam page was updated earlier today with a new name, description, and functionality.

"Download and launch from where you want; play with who you want," the Steam page now says. "Unreal Tournament X supports crossplay between all PC players, whether they’re logged into their Steam, Epic Games Store or GOG accounts.

"No microtransactions and no strings attached. This is the fully-featured, award-winning first-person shooter you fell in love with… completely free."

A release date for the 'new' Unreal Tournament 3 X hasn't been announced, and it's not currently listed on the Epic Games Store or GOG, but I would assume it'll drop fairly soon. We'll let you know when it does.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.