Diablo III, somewhat expectedly, suffers launch day "always-on" DRM blues as too many users flood the authentication servers, leaving gamers unable to play
One of the most anticipated games of the last decade (considering that's how long it took, and a couple of years more, for this sequel to eventuate) has also had one of the worst launch day experiences ever, as gamers all over the world were left frustrated dealing with "Error 37" and "Error 3003" messages.
Ever since Blizzard's announcement that the highly anticipated Diablo III would use "always-on" DRM, there has been a lot of pressure on the company to ensure the DRM would not affect the gaming experience. Gamers were always skeptical about Blizzard's reasoning for using this type of DRM, that a constant Internet connection being a requirement even for single player gaming was needed to combat cheating. And the bar of expectation was always set high for Blizzard on ensuring the launch day experience, where there is an avalanche of users trying to log-on to the DRM servers, went off smoothly.
Unfortunately, launch day was a major fail for Blizzard, as tens and hundreds of thousands of gamers, who had done the right thing and pre-ordered or purchased the game, were left fuming after authentication servers failed to handle the expected high load. Gamers were faced with the vague "Error 37" messages, which indicated a full server, as well as the even more vague "Error 3003" message. Blizzard weren't able to ensure enough authentication servers to meet the demand, and gamers were left with an useless game until Blizzard eventually brought more servers online (having also to temporarily take down Battle.net).
Gamers retaliated the only way they could - by going online and venting their anger through user reviews. As it currently stands, more than 58% of all user reviews for the game on Amazon are one star reviews, and on Metacritics, users let lose with their scoring, which now averages 3.6 out of 10 (and that's actually up from earlier). The sour first experience by many has invited more critical examinations of various other aspects of the actual gameplay, and not everything is all that positive.
When gamers calm down, along with the server traffic, the review score will naturally go up for a game that's still, by any standard, a pretty good game. And as such, sales will still be good, for a game that's a must-have for many fans. Unfortunately, the sales results will probably convince other publishers to opt for "always-on" DRM, but without a good game to back up the awful DRM, gamers may just save their money and get the pirated version instead.