The Diablo III Launch: A Split Fault

Diablo III is brilliant.

It's what we've waited twelve years to play: click your mouse a bunch, murder monsters in gory fashion, and collect loots of randomly assorted colors to one-up your friends and become an unstoppable wrecking machine. It accomplishes every one of those goals fantastically...except for the part where you can barely play the game.

It's no surprise at this point that the launch is a touch-and-go experience, with many becoming "internet rage" infuriated with the constant disconnections and server instability that they have been trying to run uphill against. Within all of that internet rage, the blame is shifted in one hard direction - towards Blizzard. Meanwhile, none of those people throwing their self-entitled ramblings at the developer/publisher do not seem to be lobbing a healthy handful of that chaw they are spitting back at themselves.

That's right. Blizzard isn't the only one at fault here. You are as well.

"How is it that I'm at fault?" Quite simply put, this game is being released feature-incomplete because people continued to beg and beg for its release, even going so far as to say "I don't care if the PvP isn't in it - just release it finally". Sure, Blizzard threw a closed beta out there some four or five months ago that they've been working with, and they had one big open beta weekend to stress test. However, the information that a company gets from a beta still cannot be accurate. How many people playing in that open beta? I can guarantee it wasn't 3.5 million people, which is the projected number for first-day sales of the game.

3.5 million people...worldwide...logging into the same servers...at the same time. I don't care what size your server farm is, even if you've been running the #1 MMO in the world for the last seven years in a row. As a company, you can NEVER be prepared for what is coming. The best you can do is try, hope for the best, and when the issues arise, get them fixed as soon as possible in order to give your customers what they want: some play time.

Blizzard is doing just that. It's not as though this game launched and then every employee took off to the Bahamas, hauling a bag of gold from their basement in each hand and sipping on daquiris in the shade while laughing maniacally. They are still at their desks, working, trying to fix the problems while they are verbally berated by thousands upon possibly millions...

...because you asked for them to finally release the game...feature-incomplete...for your amusement.

There are things that could've made this go easier, sure. They could've done some of the following:

  1. Launched servers based on a time zone basis, thereby preventing immediate overload on the servers due to massive and instant interaction with their servers by millions of people by launching everything all at once.
  2. Had a longer open beta to work out many of the Battle.net bugs as well as the Diablo III bugs, since Battle.net is an interlocked system and a fickle bitch about it.
  3. Delayed the game again in order to ensure a feature-complete product gets released through digital distribution and brick-and-mortar stores that could potentially not have all of these problems.
  4. Include an offline mode (StarCraft II has an option for this).

Unfortunately, all of those have negatives that go against it:

  1. Launching on a time zone basis would mean that 1 million would log in, followed by another million...and another million, meaning that it would still overload the servers...just not bottlenecking the door into those servers.
  2. A longer open beta would've meant more stress on Battle.net, causing issues for the games that people are already playing like WoW and StarCraft II (many don't know that the open beta was causing issues with connection and lag on both of those games during its timeframe).
  3. Delaying the game would've raised the ire of the internet, causing more shitstorms and whiny emo posts about how the game will never come out.
  4. Including an offline mode would've given way to potential hacking, an issue that has been well known and documented throughout the history of the Diablo franchise, meaning that anything you picked up in an offline mode possibly wouldn't carry over to online.

Therefore, when you want to spew your vitriol at Blizzard for all the bugs and glitches in their game, the design decisions they made, and whatever else you feel like beating your chest about, do remember one thing: it's not entirely their fault. No single company can anticipate what it is like to launch an online game with 3.5 million potential people logging on all at the same time, just the same as no single player can anticipate a game too much without realizing that their anticipation can lead to issues.

That's not to say that Blizzard doesn't have fault in this. Battle.net has been an existing system for a while, and it runs multiple different games through its servers. Therefore, they should know how to work multiple titles across the same infrastructure. There is also the fact that they DID host betas, and the open beta in particular was used...their words, not mine...as a way to "stress test". Therefore, they should've known something like this would happen and needed to be far better prepared for it.

But in the end, folks....

....we knew Diablo III wasn't going to be a perfect launch, and we knew there would be bugs and glitches and disconnections. In turn, why are you getting so pissed off about it when you knew this would happen?

Instead, remember that this game isn't going away in a week. Yes, that addiction is in you...but it WILL be fulfilled.

Until next time...piece...and may the Heavens tremble when you can make them do so.

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