This weekend saw the final Splatoon Global Testfire and it was a splatastrophe, but was it intentional?
On Saturday, May 22 at 11PM UK time, the world gathered together to play the final open beta test session for Nintendo’s upcoming multiplayer shooter, Splatoon. The previous Testfire had three separate sessions each at times best suited for different regions, but this one was set at a time so many could jump on at the same time. It was a way for Nintendo to really stress test their server, but it all went a little pear shaped.. but was that Nintendo’s intention?
Previously the Global Testfire sessions went pretty smoothly, aside from the odd dropped connection the game ran without a hitch, so presumably the next session would go well too. This one however was the final one, the final chance for players to play the game before release, and the final chance for Nintendo to see if things ran smoothly. It was held at a time where the majority of the world could take part so many thousands were connecting to the game simultaneously, the only problem was, nobody could play.
It began sooner than expected by a few minutes on Saturday, allowing players sitting waiting for the game to begin to have an additional few minutes play time. However this early launch wasn’t as sweet as we all first thought because around 10 minutes in, disaster struck. Players were either booted from the game and couldn’t reconnect because, according to the error message, there were too many players connecting to the game – there was no more room in the inn, essentially. Other players however were stuck on the loading screen with the only thing to do was to play Squid Jump, the pre-game minigame playable on the GamePad.
This lasted for pretty much the remaining hour of the scheduled Global Testfire, no matter what players did, they just couldn’t connect. That was until midnight UK time, when the Testfire was scheduled to end. Things eventually kicked off as normal as Nintendo “extended” the Testfire for another hour. Now, it seemed like due to the high volume of players, Nintendo’s servers just buckled under the weight and come midnight when the test fire ended, the weight was reduced due to some giving up, and thus the servers could cope.
Here’s my theory. The final Splatoon Global Testfire wasn’t about stress testing the servers, it was about stress testing the players. It all felt a little too pre-planned. It was like Nintendo intentionally disabled the server and access to the game to see how players reacted, and oh boy they reacted. As soon as things went pear shaped, social networks blew up with people talking about the game, mostly people grumbling about the experience, others having a more humorous take on the situation. There was also the occasional person taking this as the future of things to come declaring they weren’t going to buy the game.
Eventually #SplatoonGlobalTestfire was trending on Twitter filled with Tweets about the connection issues and people cracking jokes about the situation. That was until come midnight, things went back to normal. A little before most people were to call it a night, things were back on track. During this time however Nintendo hadn’t uttered a word on any social channels. All they’d issued was a statement though Nintendo’s official network status page:
Due to a high amount of online traffic, network services may be intermittently unavailable. We apologize for the inconvenience, and thank you for your patience.
With this radio silence, and the Testfire coming back on a few moments before it was all scheduled to come to an end, we were all playing with bated breath counting our lucky stars that Nintendo hadn’t yet pulled the plug. That’s when Nintendo eventually broke their silence and revealed that they were extending the Testfire for another hour.
Now, that strikes me as a little odd, to be honest. The reason for that is, Nintendo were keen to pipe up when things were great, but not when things were bad. Not everyone had the idea to check the Nintendo status page, they wanted to hear from Nintendo themselves that there was a problem and it was being worked on. Another thing that I find odd is that though people may have left at the strike of midnight assuming it was never going to work, would have likely returned once Nintendo gave the greenlight to another hour which in theory should have brought the servers crashing down once again.
That didn’t happen and things were stable.
Of course, this is just a crackpot theory. Perhaps during the 50 minutes of downtime Nintendo managed to boot up an additional rack of servers making it much more stable when everyone piled in later on, maybe it was as simple as people had given up and had gone to bed leaving enough room for players to access the game once again. Unfortunately we’re not going to know for sure until Friday when players get the game for real and are all piling in at the same time.
What are your thoughts? Do you think it was all a terrible accident that Nintendo rectified, or do you think it was intentional?