It seems like more and more games are being released and then collapsing under the weight of the people trying to play them. I think the worst experience I’ve ever had in that vein was trying to register to play Metal Gear Online. It took hours and hours and constant refreshes on web-based infrastructure apparently built with the belief that no one would actually try to play the game. Server issues seem at their worst in games where the multiplayer aspect is more important; online-only games likeSOCOM: Confrontation and Metal Gear Online are unplayable immediately after their release, and online-focused games like LittleBigPlanet have trouble accommodating the influx of players when the game finally hits store shelves.
It’s incredibly frustrating, and since all of these games had public, online betas before their release, it’s also quite inexplicable. I know that betas these days are just glorified demos, but the server issues that crippled all of these aforementioned games post-launch were all present in the beta phase. What is the cause? I don’t know much about the tech behind online gaming, but as a layman, it seems to me that these companies are underestimating the demand for their game. With a release like LittleBigPlanet, which seems to be a cornerstone of Sony’s PlayStation 3 marketing strategy, how is that possible? Especially since the recall limited the amount of copies that actually made it into consumers’ hands.
I wrote earlier about how game publishers are experimenting with ways to reward early adopters, some of which rely on Xbox Live or the PlayStation Network. One of the games that is doing that is LittleBigPlanet, which has free, limited edition DLC for week one purchasers. It seems to me that all the progress they make in trying to get consumers to jump on their products as soon as they hit shelves is undermined if the day one experience is going to be a laggy, frustrating disaster.