Diablo III: Launch Follies, Sever Kablooies, and a Bad Business Decision

I’m sitting at my computer, at 4:15am, writing this post because I would have been in-game of Diablo III (which happens to have launched today, May 15th). However, like typical Blizzard fashion, the launch didn’t exactly go according to plan and the company is scrambling to right this wrong.

Maaaaaybe a global launch wasn’t a good idea

I’ll try to relate this post to you, Murlu readers, the best I can (combining online business but with something I’m currently battling).

Imagine you’re a major company in the video game industry (Blizzard) and you’ve been working on a sequel to one of the best games in PC history: Diablo II. Now, let’s suppose you have a massive marketing campaign pulling in millions of new players as well as nearly all players that have played the previous games. Great.

Combine the hype of constantly posting midnight release parties. Running TV ads. Getting a lot of discussion going on Diablo III related websites. Allowing a beta/stress test. And you basically have everything lined up for a really massive game launch.

Buuuuut, someone got the bright idea to do a global launch which is essentially like opening the hatch on the floodgates. Millions of people, around the globe, all trying to fight for a spot. Millions of people trying to log in all at once and met with Error 37 server errors.

As a business move, you’d expect a large company like Blizzard (owner of WoW which has millions of players and does this kind of launch stuff all the time) to handle the situation. Yes, they’ve taken down other servers but it definitely takes away from the traction for this launch night.

If you were to run a business and launched one of the hottest products all year – I’d expect that you’d take a bit more care as to how it all works. Queue system maybe? Dump a few extra million into servers vs. marketing campaigns? Yeah, that would have been good.

Sever went asplode

The servers melted, basically.

For about an hour straight, I’d been pounding away, trying to log in to no avail. Hell, there are a few threads on Reddit that has thousands of up votes talking about the subject within a matter of minutes. Diablo’s Facebook activity is looking a bit harsh as well.

For those lucky enough to get past the Error 37, you get to play the new end-game which is getting stuck on retrieving character lists. That’s fun.

Plus, you get the added joy of accidentally typing in your account credentials wrong so you get through the error just to have it throw you back out because you’ve been in such a rush.

Okay, moving on …

Fire this guy that made this decision …

Diablo and Diablo II had offline mode – no internet connection to play and enjoy the game.

Then, for some reason, Blizzard decided to only allow D3 to be online to help with security issues and piracy. Well, that sounds good and all in theory until this very moment when there are major problems with the servers in the first place.

Hey, how about launching a product where you always need a constant online collection. Sure, you could easily have an offline mode because everything is there but you don’t want people modding and messing with the game (one of the biggest reasons why people continue to play D1 and D2, the modding community).

Someone along the way decided there wasn’t to be an offline mode. I hope they’re sacked.

Not to be mean but this really pulls away from the experience. Okay, you can’t get online but at least give me offline play to enjoy the game of release, right?

Welp …

By the type I got to this section, I’ve managed to reach the character screen but I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to stay logged in. I figure this would be a good testament of what not to do on launch day. Remember it.

9 Responses to “Diablo III: Launch Follies, Sever Kablooies, and a Bad Business Decision”

  1. Del
    May 15, 2012 at 9:30 am #

    Buying D3 was an even worse decision. No offense.

    • Murray Lunn
      May 15, 2012 at 5:45 pm #

      I really don’t have any regrets picking up the game. I’ve been a long time fan and despite a lot of the changes that the fan base seems to hate – I’m going to play it regardless. I haven’t been paying attention to any of the news releases and features on the game so it’s completely fresh. I’m treating it like a whole new experience. I’ve got a lot of other games I could play but this is one that has pulled my friends back into gaming, for sure.

  2. May 15, 2012 at 10:54 am #

    That sucks, sorry to hear about that Murray. I got excited when I saw the blog post title though because I thought, “Sweet! Someone I know who is going to be playing D3!”

    I’m not much of a gamer, but D1 and D2 were two games I loved, back in the day, so I’m super excited for D3. Pre-ordered it from Target, so I’ll be picking it up after work today. Hopefully the servers will be better by then…

    • Murray Lunn
      May 15, 2012 at 5:47 pm #

      So far, it does seem like the servers are far more stable.

      I’ve been getting a few issues like the old D2 days when you’re entering a new area and you have to potion spam because of the lag – it brings back those old memories of trying to run the game on 56k haha. I’m really enjoying it so far, lots of great little additions to the gameplay that was a real annoyance in D2. The launch was a dud but we’ll forget it soon enough once we start logging those hours – I just wanted to document that experience because it’s been so long in the making.

  3. May 15, 2012 at 3:38 pm #

    Was there any speculation on the Diablo sites about this global launch being a potential failure? I don’t think there are any companies that would do something like this. Even Google rolls out their products slowly.

    • Murray Lunn
      May 15, 2012 at 5:48 pm #

      Blizzard seems to be really hit and miss with their releases.

      When WoW came out, servers were blowing up constantly and there were major queue’s for the game. Starcraft 2 had a better launch because they knew they were going to get slammed. I’m not sure why they weren’t expecting this kind of turn out for D3 though especially since Blizz pulls in so much money – couldn’t they have sported more servers or maybe just do a queue system like in WoW? Either way, things are running smoothly now but it was still quite surprising to see them drop the ball.

  4. May 15, 2012 at 10:30 pm #

    The huge lesson I take away from this is that business success comes when the outcome is create value; not make money.

    The option to play offline and a gradual roll out are examples of decisions that would’ve been made had they primarily had their focus on creating value; not making money.

    But now they have the money and a TON of pissed off customers. This line of thinking might not enable them to keep the money they aimed to make. Be interesting to see how it all pans out. :)

  5. June 26, 2012 at 11:42 am #

    Hey Murray

    That totally sucks! Well, I’m a big Diablo fan, having played from the very beginning in D1, D1 expansion (or hack), D2, D2 LOD…but I’ve not bought D3. Not planning to at least for the next couple of months to a year in wait for everything to smoothen out – the crash was CRAZY! Hahaha…

    How’s the gameplay so far?

    • Murray Lunn
      July 4, 2012 at 7:38 pm #

      Hey Nigel,

      Since writing this post, It’s been a bit of love/hate.

      The game play is actually really fun – reminds me of the good old days of hack and slash. However, I tried logging in while I was in Vegas and got my account locked. Bliz really hasn’t helped even after sending in my photo ID and everything. So, as of now, D3 is pretty much dead in the water for me. I’d play it if I get my account back up and running but I can’t seem to get through to customer support and I don’t feel like trying over and over again :(

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