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The launch of Diablo III made headlines, but not in the way Blizzard Entertainment would have liked. After waiting for twelve years, Diablo fans learned that technical problems could be more fearsome than any demon when the game’s servers crashed spectacularly on release day.
Unlike the earlier games in the series, Diablo III requires players to be connected to the Internet at all times, even when playing the game’s single-player campaign.
Over two million people pre-ordered Diablo III, and there were over 8,000 midnight launch parties worldwide. But when eager fans tried to enter the world of Sanctuary, they put an enormous strain on the company’s servers. They were confronted with an esoteric group of error messages, the most popular of which was Error 37, which was so widespread that it became a trending topic on Twitter. While whiling away the hours of downtime, frustrated players vented their frustration by creating numerous Error 37 memes.
Blizzard was forced to take the Diablo servers offline no fewer than three times for ‘emergency maintenance.’ Players also experienced numerous random disconnects. When I attempted to play the game, I was disconnected no fewer than five times throughout the day. Lag remained an issue as well, with combat becoming a mess as characters and monsters rubber-banded all over the screen as the main servers struggled to keep up with gameplay.
The final bout of maintenance ended at 11:21 pm PST, which was actually ahead of schedule for a change. Thankfully, Blizzard seemed to have gotten things under control, and the game played very well, without any of the login problems, random disconnects, and terrible lag that marred earlier play sessions.
These connectivity woes cast fresh doubt on Blizzard’s controversial decision to make Diablo III online-only. When the decision was first announced, Blizzard claimed that it was a necessary step to combat hacking.
They rejected the idea of having separate characters for single player and multiplayer, alleging widespread anger among Diablo II players who were unable to play multiplayer games with their single player characters. However, another (perhaps more plausible) explanation might be that, because real money is at stake in the game’s Auction House, Blizzard has to be even more vigilant about hacks and dupes.
Diablo III’s technical woes have generated a firestorm of bad press for Blizzard, and media outlets from Kotaku to the Daily Mail covered the glitches in excruciating detail. Despite these ‘teething troubles,’ the initial reviews of the game are generally positive. The Toonari Post will have its own review posted in the near future, so stay tuned!
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