Yes indeed, out of the blue (seemingly) users of the Google Maps Engine service have been informed via messaging in an official user forum that the company has discontinued development of the service and will no longer be allowing new free sign-ups. However, existing GME project will be available for use through January 29, 2016
Dear Google Maps Engine trial user,
This email is to inform you about some changes to Google Maps Engine.
In an effort to provide world-class location content to consumers and businesses alike and to build on the strength of our infrastructure and capabilities, Google will end support for the Google Maps Engine (GME) product on January 29, 2016. After January 29, 2016, the product will be deactivated and no longer available for use. As an organization, we want to focus our efforts on delivering rich location content via our APIs, and enabling customers to take advantage of the capabilities provided by our Google Cloud Platform products.
Effective immediately, we will no longer be allowing new free sign-ups. However, your existing GME project will be available for use through January 29, 2016. The GME API will still be available throughout this time.
What alternative solutions are there for GME?
Google has scoped some alternative solutions for some common GME use cases. Please find the following resources on solutions for some particular use cases below (additional options will be added as they are scoped):
Create a map using Google My Maps
Building spatial applications with Google Cloud SQL and Google Maps API
Serving raster layers on Google Cloud Platform
Building a store locator with the Google Maps API and Cloud SQL