Update at 5 p.m. PT: EA now says that the message to users was an "error" and that the game will continue to be playable. See. Original story follows:
Owners of EA's Rock Band app for iOS are discovering a nasty surprise today: the game they bought has just weeks to live.
Reported on by The Guardian and first spotted by Rockbandaide, the software -- which is still for sale at $4.99 -- today began serving up a pop-up message that says "Dear Rockers, On May 31, Rock Band will no longer be playable on your device. Thanks for rocking out with us!"
Adding to that, EA has not updated the application's description to alert potential buyers to this fact.
CNET has reached out to both EA and Apple for comment, and we'll update this story when we know more.
EA is no stranger to killing off some of its games after several years. Just last month for instance, the company announced the shutdown of nearly a dozen of its titles it's made for home gaming consoles. However the reasoning there is the work required to keep them up and running on the server side:
"As games get replaced with newer titles, the number of players still enjoying the older games dwindles to a level -- fewer than 1 percent of all peak online players across all EA titles -- where it's no longer feasible to continue the behind-the-scenes work involved with keeping these games up and running," the company said at the time.
That same page lists Rock Band for Android, iPhone, Palm, and feature phones as a title that was set for an "online services shutdown," however this newer message suggests users won't be able to use the app at all.
Rock Band for iOS launched near the end of 2009, and currently offers a multiplayer feature through Facebook, though you can also play through Bluetooth. EA also sells add-on tracks in the form of in-app purchases, which can tack another $9.90 to the price tag if someone were to have purchased them all. Two years ago, EA launched a sequel called Rock Band Reloaded.
It's worth pointing out that app developers can remove their app from the App Store at any time. Although in most cases, those games and apps continue to remain usable, and sometimes even available through Apple's iCloud backup.
Update at 2:11 p.m. PT: EA has elaborated on the move on its help site. Here's the explanation verbatim:
I've heard Rock Band will not be available after May 31. Is this true?
Yes, we will be suspending support of Rock Band after May 31 and focusing resources on other EA titles. We thank everyone for playing Rock Band, and we encourage you to explore some of the other exciting titles in our mobile line-up.
Can I still play Rock Band if I've already downloaded it?
The Rock Band servers will be live through May 31, 2012. If you have already downloaded the game, you can continue to play until then.