The much-heralded launch of fantasy role-playing game Diablo III was ruined when the rush to play the game caused servers to struggle under massive volumes of traffic.
Diablo III gamers are as furious as the armies of the Burning Hells, turning on developer Blizzard Entertainment, which has promised to launch more servers to cope with traffic levels and fantasy gamers trying to activate their copies online.
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Diablo III is rated Mature for bloody violence, and its hardcore players were screaming bloody violence within minutes of logging on to activate and play – most upsetting was the infamous "Error 37" that forces players to repeatedly login to their accounts.
Activation woes were followed by further error messages preventing many hardcore Diablo players from logging on to play.
As Blizzard scrambled to fix the problems its updates caused further disruption.
"We're currently performing urgent maintenance in North America to resolve a variety of issues affecting the game," Blizzard confirmed last night.
"As a result of this maintenance, though, we anticipate that players will experience some interruption in communication, ability to log in, use of in-game features (like creating or joining games), and disconnections. This error may be a direct symptom of the ongoing maintenance."
Blizzard's latest installment in the Diablo series of fantasy role-playing games was released yesterday, having already broken pre-sale records and becoming the most pre-ordered PC game of all time on Amazon.
"We will be continuing to monitor the servers for any additional issues. If you are experiencing errors, please visit the Technical Support Forum or the Bug Report Forum for additional information," Blizzard posted on its Facebook page.
Blizzard anticipated potential server problems when it asked gamers to help perform Diablo III stress testing of its servers, by downloading the Diablo III beta and playing the game online. The beta has 13 levels, allowing users to play each of the heroic classes.
The stress test period lasted until April 23. Blizzard had warned that stress testers would experience performance problems.
However, little seems to have been done to stop the same happening weeks later on the May 15 launch day.
"Please note that due to a high volume of traffic, login and character creation may be slower than normal," stated a message on the Diablo III login screen.
"If you're unable to login to the game or create characters, please wait and try again. We've temporarily taken our Battle.net website offline and launched more servers to accommodate for the traffic. We hope to resolve these issues as soon as possible and appreciate your patience."
The last edition in the franchise, Diablo II, was released in 2000.
Players of the new game can choose to be a barbarian, witch doctor, wizard, monk, or demon hunter – then go on an "epic quest" to rid Sanctuary of the evil "Burning Hells" in a series of intense battles.
World of Warcraft players who have subscribed to that game's "annual pass" program by May 1 can get a digital copy of Diablo III for free. Subscribers will also have access to additional World of Warcraft content.
The game will be available for the Mac, as well as several different editions of Windows. Diablo III cost £40 – or, if you're a hard-core fan, £150 for the Collector's Edition that includes the full game on DVD-ROM, a behind-the-scenes DVD, game soundtrack CD, a commemorative book, and other items.