Now, the community is determined to build on this foundation and find a way forward. The hope is to have a custom launcher that simplifies the process of installing these workarounds available within the next few months. While the community has held firm thus far, those involved with managing the group know that it’s only a matter of time after the game goes dark before the server begins to decline in size.
The Evolve community has faced extinction before, but this may prove to be its final crisis. As the game that brought them together becomes abandonware, it’s an opportunity for that same community to take charge of its future.
These sorts of fan-led efforts have happened before and will almost certainly happen again. What’s really interesting about this particular case of a fandom fighting to preserve the game that gave it gravity is that it challenges and complicates the question of who really owns Evolve.
On paper, 2K owns the intellectual property rights to the game. If Evolve 2 was ever going to happen, it would have to earn their approval.
And yet, the credits for Evolve are over a thousand names long. The designers, coders, artists and producers on that list own that work in another way that nobody else ever will. If we can hold that overlapping ownership in our heads and hearts and know it to be true, it suggests that the answer to who owns a game isn’t really as fixed as the lawyers might like it to be.
Games are built by labour and capital, but a multiplayer one like Evolve cannot exist without players. A publisher can pay millions to fund the development of a title, but if nobody plays it then it’s just another dead game. At least, it is until the players get involved.
These days, we’re seeing it more and more. It happened with Netrunner. It happened with Duelyst. It happened with Killzone, Warhawk, Shadowrun and The Showdown Effect. Players might not own the legal rights to a game, but they own a different sort of collective power over it instead: the ability to decide whether it lives or dies.
It’s perhaps telling that when faced with the choice of evolve or die, communities like the one described above opt for neither. They already know what they want and if 2K won’t rise to meet that demand, they’re more than prepared to fight to satisfy it themselves.