Fans have waited 12 years for Diablo 3, and it looks like they’re going to have to wait a little while longer before playing Blizzard’s latest action RPG. The game was supposed to launch tonight, but somehow Blizzard underestimated the popularity of their own game, as the company’s servers were immediately overwhelmed within minutes of the game going live.
“Error 37,” which tells players that they can’t play Diablo 3 because the servers are too busy, has been the top topic on Twitter for the last hour, as many frustrated gamers are using the micro-blogging service to vent their anger over being unable to play their newest game. Though Diablo 3 has a dedicated single-player mode, the game makes use of DRM that requires players to always be online, so the server outage has affected everyone trying to play the game.
Blizzard says they’re working to quickly resolve the issue by bringing more servers online, and they’ve even temporarily taken their own websites offline in order to redirect more resources towards D3. Blizzard’s last second measures don’t seem to have helped, as both Twitter and the company’s Facebook wall are still being bombarded by complaints from people who can’t get past the game’s login screen.
This sort of service outage has become common place for MMO’s, but it’s kind of sad that Diablo 3’s draconian DRM is keeping people from playing the single player mode. There are two lessons game publishers and developers should learn from this: 1. Always-online DRM is a stupid idea, and 2. if you’re going to require a server login to play a game, make sure you have enough servers to handle the amount of copies of the game you shipped or were pre-ordered. You’d think Blizzard’s experience with World of Warcraft would have prepared them for situations like this, but apparently not.
I’m sure Diablo 3 is a great game, and I’m confident that all the anger about Error 37 will fade once people get to actually play the game. The current server situation is annoying, but at the very least, let’s hope that D3’s embarrassing launch problems serve as a cautionary tale for other publishers who think that always-online DRM is a good idea.