Fans reached out to Microsoft to save a 2000s-era FPS from the brink, and it paid off: 'it actually kinda works better'

Two creatures from 2007's Shadowrun do battle.
(Image credit: FASA Games / Windows)

I just found out that Shadowrun, Dungeons & Dragons' cyberpunk cousin, had a Counter-Strike style FPS game. I also just found out that you can still play it, thanks to some determined fans and an active Discord community. 

A recent thread on the ResetEra forums by user wwm0nkey has revealed that the game's matchmaking has been patched up after a plea to Microsoft after a recent server update accidentally broke what was left of its matchmaking. Shadowrun's multiplayer had been presumed dead in the ground for years after its dedicated servers shut down, but it was eventually discovered that it still worked via some peer-to-peer backend wizardry. This led to an explosion of activity within a Discord community of dedicated fans named "This is Shadowrun". 

This group of ride-or-die fans got a small community up and running, though things grew dire when a surprise update threatened to knock it all down. "A few days ago Microsoft updated some [Xbox 360] matchmaking services, which fixed Call of Duty games on the platform, but actually ended up nuking the Shadowrun Matchmaking service," Wwm0nkey wrote.

"Well a few people (myself included) reached out and Microsoft actually ended up fixing it … it actually kinda works better."

Now it looks like it's pretty much painless to hop back in and run-and-gun around Santos on the Xbox. Meanwhile on the PC version, that same Discord server has set up an install guide for the long-discontinued game, and are handing out keys they've saved up from goodness-knows-where to keep Shadowrun's heart beating.

A wizard using magic on a guy

(Image credit: Microsoft Game Studios)

If you can't get a CD key from the community, there's another clever way to dodge its ancient Games for Windows Live key validation: grab one of the few GFWL keys still being sold on Steam and use that to activate your copy of Shadowrun. I've no clue how this works, but our own Morgan Park gave it a shot with a new copy of 2008's FlatOut: Ultimate Carnage and it went off without a hitch. For some bizarre reason, these old keys can be used to unlock similar games multiple times, too.

This is especially important for this particular game, since it's a shooter without any campaign to speak of—if you can't hop online, you'll be stuck with bots. 

From afar, Shadowrun itself seems like a weird game with some cool ideas—it has races (dwarves, elves, humans and trolls) each with their own traits. It combines this with a Counter-Strike style system where you can buy tech and magic upgrades at the start of each round. Watching footage, it almost feels like Valorant, with arcane spells that let you teleport through walls or resurrect allies.

Either way, a fragment of the early 2007s has been snatched from the jaws of abandonware destruction. Wwm0nkey gave a shout-out to "what I assume to be the [backwards compatible] team at Xbox for connecting the dots and fixing something they really didn't have to, and making it better than it was before," though they were able to later confirm that they owe the revival to the "Xbox Mod Squad team".

Harvey Randall
Staff Writer

Harvey's history with games started when he first begged his parents for a World of Warcraft subscription aged 12, though he's since been cursed with Final Fantasy 14-brain and a huge crush on G'raha Tia. He made his start as a freelancer, writing for websites like Techradar, The Escapist, Dicebreaker, The Gamer, Into the Spine—and of course, PC Gamer. He'll sink his teeth into anything that looks interesting, though he has a soft spot for RPGs, soulslikes, roguelikes, deckbuilders, MMOs, and weird indie titles. He also plays a shelf load of TTRPGs in his offline time. Don't ask him what his favourite system is, he has too many.