So City of Heroes shut down over the weekend. There is no longer any way to play it, as the servers went dead.

Now, we only have seven City of Heroes questions, so there's not a lot of content, one way or the other.

But it brings up an important question: For games that you can no longer play (ie. dead MMOs, multiplayer game where the servers went dark, or some other threshold), how do we handle the existing questions? Do we want to keep them around, even though they can no longer help anyone? Do we close them with a historical lock? Do we need to do anything at all?

If any action is required, what is our threshold for classifying the game as dead, and initiating the chosen action?


6 Answers 6


I am against deleting these questions, even in the instance of a client-server game the only official servers of which have been taken offline.

There is nothing stopping them from restarting the servers, or allowing a community run server, at some point in the future - deleting the questions will mean deleting relevant content in the instance that happens.

My vote is firmly on leave these questions be.

  • 8
    +1. From the most pragmatic point of view possible: let's actually focus our efforts on games that still exist
    – badp
    Commented Dec 3, 2012 at 16:21
  • 10
    Also, deleting the question unnecessarily penalizes the users who provided good answers - their rep gets removed.
    – au revoir
    Commented Dec 3, 2012 at 17:13
  • @JasonBerkan Only if it hasn't been around for six months; after that, rep gains/losses don't happen from deleted content.
    – Frank
    Commented Dec 3, 2012 at 17:14
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    @fbueckert - Then deleting the questions deprives the world of the hard work of the people who answered, plus all the witty drive by comments that were added. Plus, what if one of the questions had an out of context question title?
    – au revoir
    Commented Dec 3, 2012 at 17:25
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    +1 for mentioning community-run servers. Just because official support has been pulled doesn't mean that nobody plays.
    – Yuuki
    Commented Dec 4, 2012 at 15:17
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    @Yawus This has nothing to with games that nobody plays. It's about games that literally cannot be played. Period.
    – Frank
    Commented Dec 6, 2012 at 15:37
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    @fbueckert Forgive me. What I meant was that even though official support or servers go down, it doesn't mean that someone won't start a community-run server right away or some time in the future.
    – Yuuki
    Commented Dec 6, 2012 at 22:32

I think we should just treat closed games like any other game that only few people play. New questions are unlikely to appear and old questions are unlikely to get activity. If there is something new, it could still be answered by people who know the game or by resources on the internet. If it is a valid questions that nobody can find an answer to, then it will stay unanswered forever, which is not the worst thing in the world. If the game ever does become playable again, the questions will still be relevant.


Historical locks seem like they're made for these instances. The question becomes whether we use them liberally on defunct games, or judicially. Based on @pixel's answer I think the best course of action would be to reserve a historical lock only if a question became a problem. For instance, if it started attracting answers such as "Why are you asking this? The game can't be played anymore." I don't foresee that being the case, but it's one more tool in our toolbox for preventing and correcting vandalism.

  • 1
    I think a protect would be more suitable in that case.
    – kotekzot
    Commented Dec 5, 2012 at 20:29
  • @kotekzot: Is the information ever going to change? Is new information ever going to become available?
    – MBraedley
    Commented Dec 5, 2012 at 22:03
  • Possibly, because fan servers.
    – kotekzot
    Commented Dec 5, 2012 at 22:10
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    @MBraedley: Microsoft's Freelancer (2000) is a good example. Years after the servers darkened, community-run servers sprang to life and massive expansions were made to the game via a still-active modding community (see discoverygc.com). One question on our site asks for a system map available external from the game. Prior to such expansions, additional systems would not be listed on an answer's map (especially if it had been a screenshot and not a link), and therefore new information would definitely have become available that was not necessarily included in original answers.
    – WiZΔRD
    Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 15:19

Addressing a specific portion of the OP's question ("Do we want to keep them around, even though they can no longer help anyone?"):

One of the ways that questions from shut-down games are still helpful is in that many games are similar enough to be able to take the strategies and executions in one game and apply them to another (for instance, A.V.A. and CS:GO - learning small-unit tactics in one to play better in the other). When a game's playability becomes defunct, the lessons that can be gleaned from players' experiences with the defunct game can still benefit players of other still-played games.

Another way that questions from defunct games can be helpful is in that they sometimes answer long-standing (personal) mysteries. As an example, for the life of me I could never figure out how to get the red gem in Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back. I no longer have a copy of the game, but I was pleased to find out the answer, even though I can no longer play the game myself.

Whether in a protected status or under a historical lock, I believe that questions concerning defunct games ought to be kept.

  • About that "game identification" question - I would hardly call that a "blatant error". There's 15 comments worth of discussion on whether the question is on-topic, including by a mod. Obviously it's not as clear cut as you make it out to be. Not sure how that relates to this question though.
    – Mage Xy
    Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 16:32
  • Blatant: brazenly obvious; flagrant. Before your reply there were actually 16 comments total, though fewer than 15 discuss if the Q is on-topic. Mod: Ash; not among those listed as closing the Q. "Obviously it's not as clear cut...": Here's why it is: the comment (error) is a wrong assumption. Relevancy: The OP's Q assumes the position that no-longer-playable games 1) exist, and 2) asks what to do about them. I take the position that such games do not exist, that assuming such is in error, and that due to the commonality of errors in dismissing Qs, such should not be done in this case.
    – WiZΔRD
    Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 18:17
  • 2
    There are absolutely games that cannot be played anymore. Remember that we don't support piracy here - just because the community hosts their own private servers doesn't make those servers legal. (It depends on the game, of course, but certainly there are instances where the only legal way of playing has been removed.) I agree with the conclusion of your answer (these questions should not be closed), but not the reasoning that gets you to that conclusion.
    – Mage Xy
    Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 18:25
  • Somehow this didn't click with me: company shuts down game, community starts servers, company does not endorse servers, and therefore said servers are in fact illegal. It was in my head that by having a legally owned copy of the game itself, the servers in turn must be legal (which is not automatically the case, as you mentioned). Your comment was quite helpful in confronting my confusion - thank you. I will adjust my post accordingly. Please review again after the edit - I would like to know if my remaining reasoning is adequate or if the post deserves deletion.
    – WiZΔRD
    Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 18:38
  • 1
    @DavidofBardstown "...having a legally owned copy of the game itself, the servers in turn must be legal..." - a small nitpick, but in a lot of cases in the modern gaming era, what you purchase is a license to play the game, not the game itself - the actual game & server code is still owned (and copyrighted) to the respective company.
    – Robotnik Mod
    Commented Dec 15, 2017 at 0:42
  • @Robotnik thank you for your clarification (and sorry for the mega-late response and question!). Would this detail (whether the game is sold as ownership or license-only) be covered in the EULA? Or would additional/alternative investigation be required to determine which one has been purchased?
    – WiZΔRD
    Commented Aug 3, 2021 at 17:27

For games that you can no longer play (ie. dead MMOs, multiplayer game where the servers went dark, or some other threshold), how do we handle the existing questions? Do we want to keep them around, even though they can no longer help anyone?

Depends on your definition of "no longer help anyone".

First, I think that most of the time if someone asks a question, then they probably have some use for it. So, someone asked a question about a MMO that just went offline? Are you sure that they are not playing on a private server (there are a few rare case where that should be legal and even approved by the original company)? They may have a perfectly legal reason to ask, even out of curiosity, even if you assume they don't.

Second and probably more important... Who said that the answer would not be interesting even if the game is no longer accessible?? You may have a point that a no-longer playable game is a game no one can make new discoveries about, but... the information one seeks could have existed far before it became impossible to do more research.

Take for example Final Fantasy XI. Even if the rumors about a shut down had been true and the game was no longer playable now, a question like "Did players even discovered what was the intended way to beat Absolute Virtue (1)" would be still relevant. In the same way, even int the case of a shut down of the original Guild Wars online servers questions about the lore and plot would still be relevant for players playing the sequel.

Probably, it is better to focus on an higher level problem. "Can the question still be answered?". If the shut down made answering the question impossible, there is some reasoning to close it, but if the question can still be answered even when the game is no longer about, perhaps it would make sense to leave it open.

1: yep, that is the boss that was changed multiple times by the developers because players "didn't beat it the way we have intended", often removing any loot the players had got in the process...


While I think that most of the information that you'll find here about games that are no longer playable (due to dark servers) might not be useful in most cases, I don't really like the idea of erasing so much hard work from the askers and answerers.

Since this is meta, and it's about suggestions, what if we came up with a meta tag we could add to posts when the topical game goes dark, or is otherwise shut down? This way, the new meta tag would also (likely) be the most prominent tag on those questions, so people would know the game is now dead, but the information could remain on the site.

Just a thought, probably not necessary.

  • 12
    No meta tags. Nothing good will come of it. Commented Dec 3, 2012 at 16:27
  • No? Well, okay, just thought I'd suggest it anyway.
    – GnomeSlice
    Commented Dec 3, 2012 at 16:27
  • 1
    I really hate meta-tags. I don't think they are helpful in this case.
    – user11502
    Commented Dec 3, 2012 at 16:29

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