Diablo III servers buckle under massive pressure

With the launch of probably the most anticipated game of this decade, Blizzard’s Diablo III launched across the world at midnight, leaving wide-eyed gamers sitting by their computers ready to tuck into the mysteries and magic of the best-selling RPG follow-up.

A screenshot of Diablo III (image: Blizzard)

But it was not to be, as the Diablo III servers quickly buckled under the pressure of the sheer volume of gamers trying to access the game at the same time. Although Diablo III is installed from a physical disc, it needs a constant internet connection to verify the authenticity of the disc and to enable users to access the online servers.

“Please note that due to a high volume of traffic, login and character creation may be slower than normal. If you’re unable to login to the game or create characters, please wait and try again,” wrote developer Blizzard on their Facebook page as soon as the issue started to appear.

In an effort to relieve traffic from their non-essential sites, the developer took their Battle.net site offline and installed more servers to accommodate the influx of traffic. “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 has also been keeping fans updated on the progress on more servers and the various issues through social networking site Twitter. “US servers are experiencing heavy load, please try again in a short while. Error 12 is because Global Play hasn’t yet (been) activated,” Blizzard Entertainment’s European English Language Customer Support tweeted.

While they are busy working on the issues, they encouraged gamers to help them identify the problems. “We’re working to resolve the Error 12 issue as quickly as possible, but need more info from those affected,” they said.

Gamers were also quick to take to social networks such as Twitter to complain about the server outage. “I was going to play #Diablo3 tonight, but then I took an #error37 to the knee,” wrote Francios Ramos, in reference to the Error 37 code that gamers will experience when trying to login into a full server.

Another user, Victor Setya, wrote on Twitter that it “Looks like the server cannot handle the 2 mil hungry players out there”.

While a large majority were struggling to play the game, some players were lucky enough to gain entry. “#Diablo3 VERY initial impressions looks to be more of the goodness of Diablo 2 with decent graphics,” wrote Vaanan V Kannan on Twitter.

Devon Stanton, Public Relations and Promotions Manager for South African distributor Megarom, confirmed that a number of successful logins have been occurring since the early hours of this morning. “The Blizzard team are fully aware of the issues and have been working to resolve it as quickly as possible. Logins have been happening since early this morning,” he told IT News Africa.

Stanton also said that the Diablo franchise is one of the stalwarts of dungeon-crawlers and RPG titles. “In terms of PC only titles, I don’t think there are many games out there that can compete on the same level as Diablo III, although many have tried the comparison and that magic ingredient cannot be replicated. If we were to compare PC only games, games like Guild Wars 2 come to mind for their high anticipation, however it’s much more niche focusing more on the MMORPG realm.”

According to Stanton, the franchise has remained popular throughout the decades because it delivers an incredibly rich story with heaps of action. “Diablo is certainly one of those games that have established a rich story combined with addictive gameplay. Variety is the spice of life they say, and Diablo certainly offers that with its variations in Character classes and abilities.”

“Blizzard has remained at the forefront in delivering incredible cinematic experiences and their skill in lore and establishing memorable characters has touched the hearts of fans all over the world,” he added.

Serving as the South African distributors for a large variety of international video game publishers, Diablo is definitely one of Megarom’s biggest sellers. “Diablo III has been our biggest PC only title however we do not have confirmed numbers (of units sold) at this stage… (and) Blizzard has not released any stats at this time,” he concluded.

Although no sales statistics have been made available, the title garnered over 2-million pre-orders.

Some of the best Twitter responses include:

* “Its as if 1 million nerds cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced #D3 #Error37” – Pookadin

* “Happy Error 37 Day folks! Trollolololol!!! :D” – Willem Grobler

* “Man, Diablo III is super hard. I’ve been playing for 30 minutes and haven’t even defeated the login screen. #error37” – Lisa Brewster

* “Hooray for online required server based gaming connections! This is the future guys!” – Nicholas de Bruyne

* “This login boss is really really hard #diablo3” – Dan Nolan

* “The funniest thing is people skipped work, bought energy drinks… For a login screen. #error37 #diablo3” – Raw Instinct

* “Best. Prank. Ever. 12 years in the making! #error37 #diablo3” – Tyler Curtis

* “Everyone HOLD ON. Let me log in, make sure things are cool, then you can have a turn!” – Kevin Pereira

* “I seriously hope some guy is at Blizzard right now going “Oh hey! A whole ton of these servers weren’t plugged in!” *plug*” – Kevin Kelly

Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor