May 2, 2012 at 7:49 PM ET
Update: EA revealed in a statement to CNET as this story was publishing that the message was "sent in error," and that the app will remain playable. Their statement has been added at the bottom of the article.
You would think that once you buy a game for your iPhone, you get to keep it. But purchasers of "Rock Band" are finding that's not the case: EA will be remotely disabling their mobile game at the end of the month.
Players were notified Wednesday upon launching the game with the message: "On May 31, ROCK BAND will no longer be playable on your device."
In EA's defense, the game is certainly old (this version was first offered in 2009), and it's perfectly reasonable to retire gameplay servers for games after a few years or cut support.
But Rock Band is a single-player game on the iPhone, and many players have already bought the rights to songs within the app. Remotely detonating the app is a rather draconian step when the online or authenticated parts of the app could be disabled by an update, leaving the game intact.
More importantly, it may violate Apple's App Store guidelines, which forbid time-limited apps (e.g. a 30-day trial). One commenter at Touch Arcade relates that an Apple representative advised him to submit a request for a refund in iTunes (in the "transactions" section).
EA has not explained why the app is getting the axe, but some speculate it has to do with a limited license on the songs in the game, or on the "Rock Band" brand itself. Regardless of the cause, indignation is running high among "Rock Band" fans and EA may soon find itself in the midst of a PR disaster.
Update: EA's statement:
It may have been sent in error, but the content of the message is unmistakable. The "issue that caused the error" might have simply been poor judgment.
Rock Band for iOS will remain live - the in-app message users received yesterday was sent in error. We apologize for the confusion this caused. We're working to clarify the issue that caused the error and will share additional information as soon as possible.
Devin Coldewey is acontributing writer for msnbc.com. His personal website iscoldewey.cc.