Last night, Blizzard issued an apology to gamers for the rough (understatement?) launch of its long anticipated, treasure-hunting click fest, Diablo 3. The statement came shortly after Diablo 3 servers took yet another nose dive yesterday evening, angering some players who have spent more time trying to log on than actually playing.
Diablo 3's server failures are particularly controversial because of its always-online DRM scheme. Even gamers who prefer the intimate privacy of single-player must log on and maintain connection to battle.net servers... or else.
"We’ve been humbled by your enthusiasm -- and we sincerely regret that your crusade to bring down the Lord of Terror was thwarted not by mobs of demons, but by mortal infrastructure."
Source: us.battle.net, "Bashiok" - Blizzard community manager
In addition to thanking everyone who's been playing -- or trying to play -- Diablo 3, Blizzard reports that the overwhelming technical difficulties it has experienced have been in spite of aggressive projections and planning. In order to provide temporary demon slaying relief, Blizzard says is has applied "several optimizations" which are expected to help during peak times. The company also states that it will closely monitor the Diablo servers to address additional technical shenanigans, should more problems arise.
Citing its recent difficulties, Blizzard has also pushed back the release date of its real-money auction house. The already delayed feature was slated for a May 22 launch, but as of now, there is no ETA until Blizzard posts more updates in the "near future".
If ever always-on DRM had a chance to work properly, you might think Blizzard, an experienced developer with deep pockets, and Diablo 3, a record-breaking game birthed with immediate highborn status, would be able to make it work. Instead, Diablo's server woes highlight a fundamental problem which always-on DRM schemes always suffer: honest players pay the price. Ubisoft helped us understand this a couple years ago, but Blizzard's recent failures manage to once again showcase its shortcomings.