Yesterday Ubisoft launched it’s much anticipated and delayed Free-to-Play console game Spartacus Legends. Based off the hit Starz TV show, Spartacus Legends puts you in the shoes of a Roman Lanista. You buy and then train slaves to become Gladiators. The game is an online only game similar to Diablo 3 and many others. While the bulk of it is single player, you are still dependent on being connected to the game servers.
Like prior Online Only game releases, Diablo 3, SimCity and countless others, Spartacus Legends fell victim to the limited finite resources of computer servers. While the issues only lasted a day or so for Spartacus, for 24 hours plus gamers were unable to play. What makes this a big cause for concern is that game developers are looking to online only play as the next step in gaming. While I love the concept of always being connected and the ease of multipayer/co-op access in these games, if game developers and publisher do not properly support the server infrastructure the gamer’s experience impacted in a negative way.
What needs to happen is these online only game developer need to invest initially more to have extra resources on hand on day one. Then once the surge dies down server numbers can be scaled back to an affordable level. If they expect us the gamer to lay out money for these games then we expect the games to work without issue. Another tactic developers can take is an alternate offline experience. For instance there was no reason I couldn’t being my Gladiator career from a default offline state, and then once the servers were functioning my data would sync and I could experience the full game. Developers need to start thinking out of the box and get back into looking at their games from the end users shoes. Stop telling us what we should expect and how we should play the game and instead sit in our seats and experience the product when it does and doesn’t work.
Every time an online game launches and has a rocky start I always hope others will learn, but its obvious they aren’t. We the gamers are going to have to continue to be vocal about online only game support and alternatives that allow us to enjoy these games while the game servers experience issues. The future is very promising but all signs are pointing to a rough headache inducing journey if the correct funding isn’t put into infrastructure to support the exploding demand of gamers.