Players are more nervous than ever these days about games launching in poor states. And with a not-so-great history of busted Diablo launches, Blizzard knows a lot of people are worried that its upcoming, always-online action RPG Diablo IV might be the next AAA game to crash and burn on release day. But Blizzard—bless its heart—is “really confident” that Diablo IV’s launch will be a more stable, smooth experience this time around.
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If you’re reading Kotaku, I likely don’t have to tell you about the infamous launch of Diablo III and its dreaded “Error 37” message. Diablo III, like its upcoming sequel, also had an always-online requirement, and when everyone stormed in to grab loot and kill demons the servers collapsed. Diablo II Resurrected suffered similar issues at launch. And Blizzard’s Overwatch 2 had anything but a smooth rollout. Add in all the issues players have had with recent AAA games like Star Wars Jedi: Survivor and Redfall and it’s clear why Blizzard is trying to convince folks it’s got everything under control.
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In a new interview with Eurogamer, Diablo IV associate game director Joe Piepiora talked about how all the beta tests Blizzard has been running over the last few months have been the key to avoiding a disaster at launch.
“Every one of these betas has been transformational in terms of our understanding of our own technical capacity and what we need to do to make that a smoother launch experience in general,” said Piepiora, “So it’s been great.”
All the work Blizzard is putting into Diablo IV’s launch
Blizzard told Eurogamer that before public beta testing the company had already been doing a lot of internal testing. But while those tests can help find some errors and issues, Piepiora explained that real deal, wide-scale beta tests with real players are much more useful.
“When you have people coming through different ISPs and coming in through different servers around the world, there’s so much more data you get from that,” said Piepiora. “And with each of those we found lots of little things that happen, like this happens with clan invitations, this happens when you join a party in a certain way—lots of little things like that across the board.”
Piepiora also wanted to make it clear that these tests were apparently not “marketing betas” or tests that are just demos to get people to buy the game and not used to actually fix anything. “None of them were [marketing betas.] Everything has been about, we need data to make sure the launch goes smoothly. That’s entirely the purpose of the betas we did.”
Further, Piepiora claimed that Blizzard and the devs working on the upcoming Diablo IV “learned a ton” from each beta, pointing out that even the last one—which went pretty smooth all things considered—still helped the team find things “happening in the backend” that if not spotted and fixed “would have resulted in some issues during launch.” He claims they only caught those problems because of this past week’s previous, extra beta weekend.
Of course, this is exactly what the company making and selling Diablo IV would say ahead of release. And while I believe Blizzard is working very hard to make Diablo IV’s launch go as smoothly as possible, it’s also a situation where we have to wait and see if all this work and effort actually helps the game avoid a borked launch. At the very least, regardless of what happens, it will be fun to come back to look at the developers’ confident-sounding comments post-launch.
Diablo IV is out June 6, with early access starting on June 2. Sort of.