Launch days for games can be a tricky minefield to maneuver through, what with publishers anxious to meet a deadline and ship a product to consumers, sometimes even knowing there will be gameplay issues: Skyrim anyone? While no one at this point can accuse Blizzard of out-and-out negligence, it would be easy to say (even beforehand) that there would be issues with the launch of Diablo 3, such as the issue of giving a shield to a follower.
Except, no one was prepared for this.
Intermittent server issues played all three regions from the midnight launch time throughout the majority of the day on May 15, though most players still were able to play Diablo 3 relatively unhindered. Many of the issues during the day on the Blizzard support forums seemed to deal primarily with downloading and installing the game from the Blizzard game client only (instead of the DVD).
However, approximately 1:30pm EDT, all American servers went down for maintenance, which, according to Blizzard’s Customer Service twitter feed, consisted of “testing and implementing multiple fixes for the current service issues.” Servers were brought back online two hours later only to go back down for more “unscheduled maintenance” at 5:15pm EDT, an event that went surprisingly unannounced on the Twitter feed (I was personally kicked out of my game). The game was brought back online for a very short time, only to be taken down again for “emergency maintenance.”
So what, right? After all, this only affects online multiplayer and online co-op, right? Sorry, what may be the biggest issue fans have expressed outrage over is that the single-player campaign also requires a constant connection to the Internet. Any hiccup in the connection, be it Blizzard’s issue, the player’s ISP, or the dog running behind the computer and ripping out the Ethernet wire, the game will be unavailable.
Far be it from any of us to criticize publishers from protecting their IPs from piracy and theft, but if the events of today weren’t proof enough, a constant Internet connection that is a requirement to play a single-player campaign that has always been considered “offline” is completely asinine. Blizzard VP Robert Bridenbecker was stunned that players felt this way when this decision was first announced, and it’s safe to say this feeling from the players hasn’t subsided. If a consumer purchases a game, they should not be punished by having no outlet to play the game. Server issues should only affect online-only games, such as MMOs like World of Warcraft and Star Wars: The Old Republic.
Players expect downtime to halt their gaming experience with online games. We should not have to expect the same issues to prevent us from playing single player games which should have an offline mode. Blizzard, you have dropped the ball here. Players should be given an offline mode to play the Diablo 3 single-player campaign.
The servers went back online late last night after “emergency server maintenance” but there are still a few lingering issues, including achievements not displaying. On the forums, Vasadan, from Blizzard quality assurance, said they’re simply delayed because of the server load and reiterated that they’re working on it.
“As you can probably imagine, our servers are currently really busy handling all the new players coming into the game… The achievements server in particular is being hammered, which may be why your achievements are not showing up. It is not that they are deleted, but that there is a (very long) delay in retrieving that data.”
“We are working on it.”
On the Diablo III Facebook page, Blizzard provided an update after the maintenance, letting fans know that things should be working and that they’ll be watching closely.
“We will be continuing to monitor the servers for any additional issues. If you are experiencing errors, please visit the Technical Support Forum or the Bug Report Forum for additional information.”
Diablo 3 launched (sort of) May 15, 2012 for the PC and Mac.
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