May 15th - a date marked in the calendars of gamers across world. The highly anticipated third instalment in the Diablo series has finally been released. After waiting years to slay demons, undead and Prime Evils, players can finally step into the world of Sanctuary. Or can they?
After a very shaky Open Beta, where many players had difficulty logging in, I thought that Blizzard would have been prepared for launch. If the servers couldn't handle the amount of people logging in back then, then surely they wouldn't be able to on launch day unless they were improved somehow, right?
The problem lies with Battle.Net 2.0, the platform that Blizzard has all gamers connect to before playing Diablo III. But Diablo III is a single player game with an online component, so one would assume that an online connection would be optional; it is not. According to Blizzard, all players are required to connect to their Battle.Net service to play Diablo III (even if you want to play the single player) in order to counter cheaters. I believe that Battle.Net's compulsory connectivity is primarily meant to be a deterrent from piracy.
The problem is that with hundreds of thousands of people trying to connect simultaneously, there is excessive strain on the servers. The results are long load times and the inability to play the game at all. Many gamers have taken to the forums to vent their anger (in the same way they did for the Feat of Strength I wrote about in my last blog entry).
As a consequence, Diablo III is currently getting review bombed on Metacritic, where it currently has a user score of 3.3/10. Understandably, players are angry - they paid $60USD for a game, took days off from work and even school, to play a game they have been anticipating for quite some time. Their disappointment has turned into anger and frustration.
To attempt to remedy the situation, Blizzard has taken down the servers multiple times. Every time the server is expected back up, the ETA is pushed back a little bit more. So instead of solving the problem, Blizzard appears to be exacerbating the situation by completely locking gamers out of Diablo III.
Now let's sample the very colorful Blizzard forums:
"We all understand that you guys are incapable of having a decently good launch. However, I think what is really irritating everyone, including me, is that you cannot give us a straight answer. You continually give us "We will be ready to play in 1 Hour! Thanks for your patience!", then after an hour you give us "We will be ready to play in 1 Hour! Thanks for your patience!", then after another hour you give us "We will be ready to play in 1 Hour! Thanks for your patience!", over and over and over."
"I swear I'm not trying to troll here, I'm just curious as to why Its online only. I know Some of it has to do with pirating and the Real money Auction house but is there any other motives I'm missing?"
"So, let me get this straight. This is the most highly anticipated sequel maybe ever and you just today figured out that you should have a couple more servers fired up to handle traffic? Really? The game that broke Amazon's presale record and you didn't think to actually prepare for a lot of people logging in at once. You guys are normally terrible with WoW content patches and expansions, but I would have figured after that those experiences would have taught you something about how to launch major content. Perhaps you should use some of those billions of dollars in revenue to hire some actual techs and get a real managerial staff in there instead of just using interns to run everything all day by trial and error. This rant doesn't even cover the predominant issue of having to log in to a client to play single player because you guys need to control the flow of pixel "items." I am not sure I care if you guys lose out on a couple dollars here and there because someone wanted to sell something themselves, you did just make truckloads of money on this game and you do have a multi-billion dollar brand name. At 1:30 PDT when you try to fire it up again and it still doesn't work instead of using catch phrases like EMERGENCY MAINTENANCE, could you possibly just tell the truth and just tell us that you are once again incompetent? You're the best."
And there are always the loyalist fanboys who defend Blizzard:
"seriously i dunno what everyone is complaining about... i dont think people comprehend even a fraction of what it takes to make an MMO run at all.. you go blizzard and take your time make this game as epic as possible! for all you haters, there is an uninstall option... USE IT OR SHUT UP AND WAIT"
"The servers have actually been up more than I expected they would today. For the complainers have you never played a highly anticipated game on launch day before?"
"Just over 12 hours from launch of one of, if not the, most anticipated game of the year. This game broke records on preorders. I have to say, only an hour of wait to get in is not that bad at all!
Also, to the people crying about the servers going down... deal with it. At least Blizzard is trying to actively fix the problems instead of ignoring them!
You are all acting like spoiled 8 year olds that just got their ice cream taken away. The game will be back up and running soon. It isn't a big deal.
To those complaining about single player requiring Internet.... welcome to 2012 people."
What do you think about this? I personally dislike the extremely unstable Battle.Net servers. If Blizzard turns in billions in profit, then why does a non-mmo single player game have such a rough launch? In comparison, Guild Wars 2, which is an actual mmo with a huge community playing the beta events, doesn't have nearly as much issues (I never had a login issue once).
When I can log into the game, I'll get on completing the campaign and writing a review. I'll probably get some gameplay footage as well.
PS: While writing this article, it came to my attention that Diablo III is also getting review bombed on Amazon.com, currently having a 2.5/5 star rating.