Special Report: Servers Die Under Game’s Popularity; Players Pissed

Diablo III.  Pretty much every gamer on the planet was looking forward to it.  Millions preordered and preinstalled, anxiously awaiting the stroke of midnight like hordes of hungry mogwai with dreams of transforming into little green assholes.  The witching hour came and went.  Excited Diablo fans fired up the game and tried to log in.  Many couldn’t.  The game they’d been so anxiously anticipating, for which they’d shelled out their hard-earned cash, wouldn’t work without a persistent connection to developer Blizzard’s servers–even for the single-player mode.

I call shenanigans.  The terms “single-player” and “persistent server connection” should never be uttered in the same sentence without the additional phrase “does not require.”  Corporate douche bags in stuffy suits claim this is to protect gamers from hackers, or to fight piracy, or to ensure a high-quality gaming experience.  I claim that said douche bags have tied their Armani ties too tight; forcing a server connection for a single-player game is a piss poor design decision.

Or at least that’s the perspective from my antisocial, console-centric position in the gaming world.  I love me some Master Chief, but if Halo 4 were to require a subscription to XBox Live and a persistent connection to a server somewhere in Redmond for single-player, I’d just skip it and play through Persona 3 for the seventeenth time.  To get the real scoop and to maintain my journalistic integrity, I thought it best to bring a PC gamer and a Diablo fan into the conversation: our very own Phegan.

Describe to me in intimate detail your experience with Diablo III.

Phegan: While the fact that the server is having issues, I am having a ton of fun and want to keep playing…alot. I have finished Act 1 with only one issue with the server. It went down around midnight, and I couldn’t get back on, so I went to bed. So not terrible.

Which term most accurately describes your attitude toward single-player games that require server connectivity: value-added feature or shovel to the nuts?
Phegan: Combination of both: it’s a value-added shovel to the nuts. The reason I say this is because it makes it very easy for me to join friends, play with them, and get games going very easy out of single player. Last night, when I had 15 friends on, it would have been really easy to find one and jump into a game with them. The shovel to the nuts is due to the fact that you are still stopping people from playing single player if the servers go down…which is completely stupid. It should be online all the time, unless you can’t be online through no fault of your own.
Did you know in advance that the beta stress test of the servers supposedly went poorly?  Knowing that, why in the seven blue hells did you think you were going to get to put any time into the game on launch day?

Phegan: I was part of it and had zero issues getting into the beta during the stress test weekend. I can only assume they didn’t get enough people to produce the same load as release day.

On a scale of “fuck no” to “thank you sir, may I have another,” how likely are you to purchase another single-player game that requires a persistent server connection?

Phegan: Technically, most games I own fit into the category because I use Steam. I would most likely purchase them again, but it depends on the game. It would be enough for me to say no if I am on the fence, but if it was a game that I wanted to play as much as Diablo III and/or Skyrim, requiring a persistent online connection wouldn’t stop me.

How has your opinion of the almighty Blizzard been affected by this debacle?

Phegan: It really hasn’t, because I fully expected this to happen. While I don’t agree with it and I think requiring a connection is not a good idea, I did fully expect these issues. After playing WoW for many years, this isn’t anything new for Blizzard. Believe it or not, this is an improvement compared to the WoW release day. The only difference is that I still can’t play single player, which is stupid as fuck.

Is it fair to be angry with Blizzard for its treatment of single-player?  Mutliplayer seems to be a huge part of the game, to the point that what we’re looking at is essentially an incredibly instanced MMORPG

Yes. It is fair to be angry. While multiplayer is a huge part of the game, it doesn’t mean there isn’t a single player mode. Why can’t I play it when the server is down?

I wouldn’t say its an MMO, because the word “massively” does not apply. It’s an MORPG, if anything…I guess. At no point can you play with more than 4 people. What you’re saying would make games like Left 4 Dead or Borderlands MMOs, which they are not.

Why are you so bald?  Do you think people with full heads of luscious hair were allowed to connect and play first?
Phegan: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Androgenic_alopecia  I do not think this was the case because I was able to get on without any issues minus them taking down the servers for maintenance.
There you have it, folks: PC gamers are mostly used to these issues, and it seems most fans are willing to overlook the occasional problem if it means they get to play a game they want.  What I see as an unwanted, unnecessary complication that would keep me from purchasing a game in the first place isn’t necessarily enough to make other gamers do the same–as we’ve seen with games like Assassin’s Creed, which also require a persistent connection.  And because angry forum posts don’t hurt anyone’s bottom line, use of this kind of technology is only going to increase.
What say you, dear readers?  What were your experiences with the game?  Are Phegan and I nuts to think this kind of server requirement is stupid?  Am I overreacting because I’m such a slave to my consoles?  Is Blizzard giving priority to balding players?  Comment away!

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