“Battlefield 3” broke my heart.

I’ve since moved on, but it hasn’t been the same. “Counter-Strike” doesn’t quite scratch the itch. Until “Borderlands 2” dropped, I was a bit adrift when it comes to my multiplayer gaming fix.

BF3 was, for months on end, the go-to game for good times with friends. I still remember the hijinks fondly: blowing a jet out of the sky with my tank, the rush of adrenaline after five consecutive knife kills. It’s not that those experiences aren’t there to be had anymore… it’s missing the friends to share them with.

My fellow gamers move on to other games and have better things to do, that’s a given. But when the game itself – nay, the publisher – all but forces them out, it’s especially frustrating.

For me, ground zero of BF3’s decline was the implementation of rent-a-server. On paper, it’s a fine idea: let players rent their very server and host the game modes and settings they want. Great, where do I sign up? Problem is, thousands of other players asked the same question, and EA/DICE was more than happy to oblige them with their own little slice of hell.

This would be all fine and dandy, were it not for the laws of supply and demand. When there’s a finite amount of servers and many customers happy to open a tab, the online landscape changes drastically. I’ll be damned if I could find a legitimate server with standard rules, instead of some cesspit for the xXx420733tSN!PERZxXx clan. The settings were brutal (600 ticket Metro? Yuck) and the hosts downright childish, kicking you and your friends for simply doing better than them (or they just wanted my friend Enimor all to themselves. Love ya, E! XOXO).

There were some bastions of fairness and camaraderie, but they were few and far between. From one week to the next, they might not exist at all when the host’s rental expired. Law and order turned into anarchy. It was fucking Gotham City after Bane shows up with the bomb in “The Dark Knight Rises”. Let the games begin, indeed!

The twist of the knife came in the form of massive updates, patches, and DLC. Friends who played less frequently would often find themselves forced to sit and watch a 4 GB content patch download while everyone else played. And heaven forfend one didn’t have several GBs worth of hard drive storage space to dedicate solely to BF3.

Greed is good. I don’t begrudge EA’s attempts at making money off of customers after their initial purchase of the game. I love DLC, it’s a great idea and great way to deliver extra content at a fraction of what it would cost to develop a new game or large expansion. But EA seems to have a talent for taking a great idea and running it into the ground. BF3 ceased to be a game, or at least a fun one. I spent more time planning around downloads, searching for servers, and trying to coax my friends into playing than I actually did playing.

Then there was the whole Premium deal. Again, not a bad idea on paper, but I couldn’t help feeling like Premium subscribers somehow had a leg up on me because they paid more money. And they had the special “Premium player” callout in your kill cam, as if to rub it in your face. “Look,” the game said, “If you had Premium like they did, you’d still be alive and winning the game!”

Well, good for them. I hope the service pleases them and they get what they pay for. But all the same, fuck ‘em. And fuck EA. I loved this game you published. I even preordered it (which I’d never done before in my life). I sped home after work (figuratively, not literally, officer!) to pick it up. Forgoing dinner, I jammed that sucker into my Xbox to be greeted with… nothing. Servers were overwhelmed/busted. Oh, well, this seems to be a common thing nowadays. They’ll get it worked out in a few days. And they did.

But all that runaround, it never really stopped. I paid my money, I was patient with updates… why did I have to work so damn hard to play a game I enjoyed? I’d like to say I don’t bust my balls for anyone, but if I do it’s because they love me or they pay me. And BF3 wasn’t doing either.

I loved you, “Battlefield 3”. Maybe a part of me always will. At least I’ll always have good memories along with the bad, so thanks but no thanks. I’m seeing other people… their names are Salvador, Maya, Axton, and Zer0. Oh, and I got married, built a house, and adopted a kid in “Skyrim”.

Meant to tell ya, but I had to download an update first.