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Diablo III servers crash under weight of demand

Diablo III servers crash under weight of demand

Tue 15 May 2012 8:21am GMT / 4:21am EDT / 1:21am PDT
Development

Players experience severe login delays and "Error 37" messages as Blizzard struggles to keep pace

Blizzard's servers are struggling beneath the weight of demand for Diablo III, Eurogamer reports.

The long-awaited game was released in major territories today, drawing huge crowds to its midnight launch in the UK.

However, the scale of its popularity is reflected in the number of players encountering full servers, severely impaired performance, and an "Error 37" message indicating the need to login again.

"Please note that due to a high volume of traffic, login and character creation may be slower than normal," an official message posted to the Battle.net forums read.

"If you're unable to login to the game or create characters, please wait and try again. We've temporarily taken our Battle.net websites offline and launched more servers to accommodate for the traffic. We hope to resolve these issues as soon as possible and appreciate your patience."

Blizzard had warned about the possibility of these problems before Diablo III's launch, predicting login delays of up to 40 seconds and, in extreme cases, an Error 37 message.

GamesIndustry International's on-the-spot report from the game's UK midnight launch can be read here.

21 Comments

Bruce Everiss
Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
Error37 trended at number one on Twitter globally.

Just shows the problems with stress testing.

Posted:2 years ago

#1

Andreas Gschwari
Senior Games Designer

556 607 1.1
I guess i was one of the lucky ones. Logged in at 00:00 and stayed online until past 3am :)

Posted:2 years ago

#2

Benjamin Crause
Supervisor Central Support

79 36 0.5
Did anyone expect anything else?
One of the reasons why so many detest "always online DRM" for single player.

Posted:2 years ago

#3

Andreas Gschwari
Senior Games Designer

556 607 1.1
@Benjamin: i was dubious at first, but to be honest i think the way Diablo 3 works now is very cool.

I can instantly make any game i play a public game and have people join, check the auction house without having to go online. I see when friends log in and can play with them straight away.

Having played the beta for quite some time and now started the real thing, i can honestly see why they have gone that route and it works.

Obviously some initial server issues are crap, and those affected just want to play (even if it's single player), but after those issues are resolved, i don't think anyone will complain.

Posted:2 years ago

#4

Joshua Rose
Executive Producer / Lead Designer

191 81 0.4
I've been looking forward to this game just as long as anybody else.

When I heard ab out the online only thing I was absolutely furious. I live in a place where the best I can get at home is sattelite internet. Anybody ever tried to play a game on sattelite? It sucks hardcore.

So because Blizzard decided that the entire game has to be online only to play, I am now unable to play the game, because I'm not about to pay 60 bucks for a game that plays as bad as an mmo on my internet.

See what happened Blizzard? That's called Karma.

Now I understand their reason for going battle.net only was due to the age old duping bug related to online/offline play with Diablo II, but why couldnt they just take the time to find a work around??? THEY HAD 12 YEARS TO FIGURE IT OUT!!!

How embarassing.

Posted:2 years ago

#5

Andreas Gschwari
Senior Games Designer

556 607 1.1
@Joshua: some people obviously will fall through the cracks. But at the end of the day, i think Blizzard did the maths and i think sales figures will show that the majority of people in this day and age at the very least have dialup internet (which is all that's needed to play single player).

It's not embarassing at all. It's a business decission and, i believe, it will pay off for them. Steam has been doing this for years now, it's not like Blizzard just made this up out of thin air.

Posted:2 years ago

#6

Henry Durrant
Programmer

46 41 0.9
I just don't see why they didn't include a restricted offline singleplayer mode, there is no reason not to - it just has the caveat of not having that character available online. For the sake of a little extra coding they would have more goodwill with users and a slightly broader market - and it means people could practice while they wait for the servers to go back up.

Posted:2 years ago

#7

Dirk van Wijk
Student - Computer Science (Master)

29 13 0.4
@Henry: They stated that in D2 a lot of people played offline and didn't even know there was a lot of good online functionality. They don't to have separate offline only characters I guess.

And I guess one big issue is pirating ;) D3 offline is actually the whole experience of the game, you can play all of the content offline then. (unlike SC2 which is mainly an online game, so they didn't care people pirated the single player). So they'd also lose sales.

Posted:2 years ago

#8

Richard Gardner
Artist

123 32 0.3
I personally think everyone is overeating, these issues where obviously going to happen. Don't get me wrong, I feel Blizzard could have done a better and looked at what EA did for The Old Republic launch. But what's done is done and honestly, anyone who says Diablo 3 is a bad game is simply out of there mind. These issues will be done and dusted after the first day.

Posted:2 years ago

#9

Andrew Jakobs
Lead Programmer

230 89 0.4
Bad, bad bad, they knew beforehand that it would put a lot of strain on their servers (as it also did with previous releases of blizzard games) and yet instead of making sure it doesn't happen they just warn people (with a lot of people ofcourse never seeing the statement)..
I guess it would have cost too much money to make sure the problem wouldn't arrise.. Blizzard just sux..

Posted:2 years ago

#10

Klaus Preisinger
Freelance Writing

1,072 1,007 0.9
The game has to break at launch, else it is bad marketing.

If the servers break, Blizzard gets a free viral campaign called error 37 and people get the idea of the game being even more in demand than Blizzard could have ever known.

If the servers hold, players do not go on twitter with one hashtag to rule them all and players could get the impression that the game is not as in demand.

You got to have enough servers for day 2, but on day 1, you got to have a guy in place turning them off, so players get this special feedback of the game being the hottest thing on earth.

Posted:2 years ago

#11

Kieren Bloomfield
Software Engineer

92 79 0.9
And the cycle continues... This is the same that happened all the way back when Half-life 2 popped into existence. I couldn't play my game on day one (or day two even) despite having the disc in my hands. Now everyone (except me) loves Steam..... These problems will soon be forgotten.

Posted:2 years ago

#12

Joshua Rose
Executive Producer / Lead Designer

191 81 0.4
well let me ask this... is it a TCP/IP setup like D2 except Bnet is used for matchmaking purposes, or is it, you start a game and it's on their servers and gameplay is managed through communication with the server?

Because I could play the game if it's a situation where the game is hosted on my PC and it doesnt have to communicate every single action with the server. or is it a pure client/server where all actions are tracked server side and are transmitted to all players connected to that game

Even on dialup there is a lag simply from client/server communication delay. With Sattelite, thanks to our sun wreaking havoc on the atmosphere and causing all sorts of electromagnetic interference, my connection would go up and down faster than a jack rabbit on crack... The metaphor is even more true of my connection because every once in a while it will just get a heart attack and die all together...

Posted:2 years ago

#13

Ignacio Garcia

11 1 0.1
Blizzard, the company that host more than 11 million players on WoW + a few millons from SC2 + a few hundreds of thousands from their other games, can't handle a realease with maybe 1 or 2 million?? Come on!!
I agree with Klaus, they are basically saying "Omg! our servers can't bear so much success!! How bad is that!!" lol

Posted:2 years ago

#14

Micaiah Stevens
Owner & Freelance Game Designer

13 6 0.5
If you look at how they handle the log in server. Especially considering the load, you can see why they can't handle 2 million logins. They split it up into 3 separate network requests. They had a que in the beta, but didn't seem to have it up for live. So when you can't log in, you basically either wait, or spam the login button. Which then turns 2 million requests x3 stages so 6 million, times lets say 4 attempts a second. So 24 million requests a second. If I can see this is a problem. Then its kind of obvious their network was designed by a first year networking student.

Posted:2 years ago

#15

Andreas Gschwari
Senior Games Designer

556 607 1.1
Where do you get the 1 to 2 million numbers from?

As far as i have read there was 2 million pre-orders alone. Add to that first day purchases (and judging by people going out and buying the game in the office here alone, those will be many), plus online purchases.

My guess is the number is significantly higher than 2 million.

@Joshua: it is pure client/server communication. Though if you play the single player there is almost no data sent or received. It is only when you chose to set your game to "public" and want to play with friends that a dialup probably won't be cutting it.

Yeah i can see that sattelite connection might be a pain, but as i said before, some people will fall through the cracks. That might be hard on those that do, but overall it'll not impact sales at all.

As Kieran said - nobody seemed to complain when HL2 came out. People seem to love steam. Blizzard is just adapting.

Posted:2 years ago

#16

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,156 1,076 0.5
@Andreas: If someone has a dial-up connection, there's a VERY high chance it's also for their main phone line as well. Not everyone has a smartphone or maybe they only use a cell in an emergency. That and updating the game would be next to impossible if a huge patch was released that required a too-long download session.

It might not impact sales much, but it's actually LOST revenue at the end of the day when you consider the millions who won't be spending sixty bucks on what could have been a fine offline SP mode.

You have to think like poor gamer once in a while... or be one to see how being onlime always would not be an option for those folks who might like a bit of DIII at some point (but will just go without it)...

Posted:2 years ago

#17

Andreas Gschwari
Senior Games Designer

556 607 1.1
@Greg yes patches are obviously an issue, though that will remain to be seen. I don't really see gigabytes of patch data. 200 or 300 megs at the most - an overnight download.

Realistically speaking, most gamers will have ADSL with at least 512kb speed. Most Diablo gamers and fans will already be connected (after all Diablo has always been primarily an online game - at least in the long run).

In terms of lost revenue - not so sure. The number of people not buying diablo 3 simply because they don't have a connection will be very small indeed, in my opinion. that tiny fraction of overall revenue could well be made up from people who choose to buy instead of pirate.

It's certainly an interesting debate, because i believe the industry will go fully online within the next few years. Rumors about next gen consoles utilizing digital distribution as well as continued rise of Steam and Origin point to that.

While internet coverage is far from being 100%, i would argue that those people who do not have any kind of internet at this point are probably not the kind of people who are interested much in computer and video games. They would not be the target D3 demographic IMO.

Posted:2 years ago

#18

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,156 1,076 0.5
Oh, I can name a few areas in a few states here in the US where you're proven wrong about decent Internet connections and familiarity with the Diablo series, Andreas.

In fact, you can even say that ANY game will have a percentage of users who've never heard of it before or have very limited experience with game sin the genre. Poke around online and you'll find a few people not used to the mouse movement and combat or hotkeys because they're coming in from a non-PC gaming background. Not EVERY Diablo III player is an expert at the game, but they may want to see what the fuss is all about because someone they know may be playing (or trying to play (ERROR 3003)...

Posted:2 years ago

#19

Andreas Gschwari
Senior Games Designer

556 607 1.1
@Greg Not sure where i mentioned familiarity.

What i said is that people who, at this point in time, don't have an internet connection of any sort, probably would not be people who are interested in computer or video games (i would go as far as saying they are not intersted in technology in general). I don't see someone having an Xbox or a gaming PC (capable of playing D3) at home, without having any kind of internet connection.

In terms of newcomers to the franchise - of course! every game in a franchise has people that fall away, and new people that join. People will see the box at Walmart and remember an add and buy it to check it out. Or they simply like the box, have never heard of it before and just think it's something worth looking at.

So i guess my view is that Blizzard simply chose to ignore people without internet connection, as they don't fall into their target demographic. and i think that's fair enough.

Call of Duty's main target demographic is 16 to 30 year old males. Sure some 55 year old grandmother might pick up the game. Similarily some hippie 20 year old boy might not. But those are the fringes and you can't consider the fringes in a business.

Posted:2 years ago

#20

Emily Knox
Associate Designer

47 96 2.0
Just personally, I am disappointed that single player is online only. I've got a less than desirable internet connection that's prone to disconnecting, so I get booted from the game, and when the servers are busy (or whether my internet speed is to blame, I'm not sure) at times my character is playing a few steps behind the enemies, so I'm teleporting across areas and casting spells in the wrong place. So it's actually almost unplayable if I'm against some tough enemies at a bad time.

When it works, it's great, when it doesn't it's a frustrating experience. Having the option to play offline would solve problems for a lot of people.

Posted:2 years ago

#21

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