Server Issues for Blockbuster Games is, Flat Out, Unacceptable

ImageProxy

Halo: The Master Chief Collection has been out for just under 15 hours in the States, and a bit longer across some other territories, but one of the main attractions to the game is really bogging down the experience. The game features over 100 maps that ooze Halo-goodness considering it is one of the most played multiplayer games across any console in history; it is unfortunate to hear that the game is suffering from excessive loading times and matchmaking connectivity issues. 343 studios is no doubt, and to their credit, working around the clock to get the situation under control and help players to get into games as soon as possible. But, the point of the matter is that games such as these, at this point in the video game universe, problems like this are unacceptable.

And this isn’t just to call out Halo. For it, unfortunately, is just the latest game to hit the market with these sort of issues; we however don’t have to look very far back to find the issues raising their ugly heads with a couple other recent titles. DriveClub being one of the largest flops in the industry because of the fact that the game depends on the online functionality to enjoy the experience is yet another example of a major game that isn’t cutting it with its servers. Since its disc debut the game has squandered any momentum it could gain with nothing but issues for players looking to embrace the game the way it was meant to be played, with friends. Going just a few weeks before that, NBA 2K15 touts the blacktop mode, and online play as some of the biggest revamps. Yet the the game is hit and miss every time you log in to play because of the servers not properly functioning. It’s a double edge sword for companies because they are simply struggling to get servers online, yet don’t want to push the game’s release back and lose money because of bad publicity.

Grand Theft Auto V on the previous-gen consoles, where it was originally released, struggled through its first couple of months due to spotty servers. Players constantly put time and effort into getting cars, money, among other assets, simply to find them vanished from their hideouts when returning to the game at a later time. Why, with servers and online play, having been around since before the release of the Xbox with computer-based games using them, are we still having troubles like this?

 photo MCC_zps87ab11d8.jpg

“We’re aware of issues some have been having with matchmaking and we’re working around the clock, alongside the Xbox Live team, to address.” is the response to some angry fans via the Halo Twitter account just a short time ago. While they are no doubt attempting to do everything they can, it doesn’t make sense why as consumers people are having to put up with it. When new technology is release, we expect problems; when something goes bigger than a company expects, its understandable. But when a game that has had the sort of hype, as a Halo The Master Chief Collection, or DriveClub, or GTA V has these types of issues it shows a negligence that has every right to be the source of gamers frustrations. There are review copies sent, in many cases, weeks in advance. Many that got Halo and reviewed the game when the embargo lifted last Friday complained of the very issues we are still experiencing today at launch. Because of it, their reviews were not posted or lacked the information about online play. Their are people within the company, testers, that try these games for functionality as well. There are plenty of opportunities for companies to avoid problems, to test and correct them, yet consumers shell out millions of dollars to lose time with the game when their interest is at its pinnacle…. on launch day.

This is old technology that should be functioning without hiccups. Let me rephrase that, because it is technology and there are always some sort of problems, but this is old technology that should not endure these types of issues, this regular. If this were an occasional thing, it would be big news but frustrations would not run as high. Instead, it seems roughly 1 in every 4 big name titles has some sort of server issues for online functionality in the first week of its launch. That’s 25% and simply too high to be acceptable, or excusable. If the problem is there, let the fans know before they have to tell you, or in a worst case scenario delay it a week to correct the problem. Provide early adopters a value added to the game, like GTA did with in-game currency. Instead, too many companies think “sorry” will suffice. While they simply collect $60 a game for every copy sold, knowing that in the beginning players won’t get their $60 worth from it.

With online play being a necessity to the success of the gaming landscape and a staple that is a part of all most every title, the continuous problems must be addressed. Players need to be given the opportunity to play a complete game at launch. Consumers need to be informed of problems from the distributing company, instead of the other way around. It shouldn’t be that difficult, but unfortunately for us consumers it’s left on us to shoulder the burden at launch instead of the company that has the problems in the first place.

Aaron Cooley Themm