Six Successful Online Launches That Give Us Hope For Destiny

by Kyle Hilliard on Sep 08, 2014 at 10:30 AM

In this new age of online-focused, and increasingly online-required video games, it’s easy to look at the troubled launches of the past and be pessimistic about tomorrow’s big release – Destiny.

But just because some games have stumbled out of the gate doesn’t guarantee Destiny will, and we’re taking a look at some online games that were solid right away, or at the very least became so quickly.

The Halos
One reason to be optimistic about Destiny’s launch tomorrow is Bungie has a good track record. Halo 2, Halo 3, and Halo: Reach all offered solid server support right out of the gate. It’s particularly impressive with Halo 2, which charted all kinds of new online ground for consoles with its matchmaking support – something that had not been done prior. The only Bungie game notable for unsure online footing is Halo: ODST. ODST’s Firefight mode, which pits a team of Spartans against waves of enemies, stumbled with frequent slow-down and dropped games, but it smoothed out quickly.

The Call of Dutys
Activision is Destiny’s publisher and while its Call of Duty series has constant complaints levied against it about its lack of creativity, its Michael Bay-quality stories, or its community of vulgar juveniles, folks rarely, if ever, complain about the game not working. Call of Duty’s online support is as consistent as its release schedule. Every year there is a new Call of Duty, and every year it experiences very few hiccups, despite its massive quantity of players.

The one exception is the launch of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which experienced some early problems with its online multiplayer. It didn’t take long, however, for the online component to find its footing.

The Gears of Wars
Gears of War, Gears of War 3, and Gears of War: Judgment all launched well with players having few issues getting online and taking on the Locust Horde (and each other). Gears of War 2, with introduced Horde Mode, went less smoothly. Epic even offered a statement regarding the game’s multiplayer at the time saying, “Straight out of the box, Gears of War 2's multiplayer in regards to matchmaking was very very clunky and very, very seldom worked.  That's something we take very, very seriously and feel very, very bad about.”

By the time Gears of War 3 released, Epic learned the value of a beta, and made sure players were able to get their hands on the game prior to launch to smooth out as much of the game as possible. Bungie has long been a fan of the public beta as far back as Halo 3, and it did the same for Destiny, with an alpha and a beta for the public to get their hands on.

MMOs are notoriously bad with launches, and no recent release has helped shake that reputation. Even the MMO genre’s most notable and well-funded title, World of Warcraft, struggles. Its 2004 launch was terrible, and every expansion following had difficulties letting people in without an unreasonable wait time.

Trion Worlds' Rift, however, launched with very few issues, despite reaching one-million players very quickly. The game even won an award for Best Online Technology at the 2011 Game Developer's Conference. Rift proved that a MMO is capable of a seamless launch, even if it’s rare.

Hearthstone’s inclusion in this list is debatable, as it’s tough to assign the game a singular launch date. The game was in alpha and beta for a long time allowing Blizzard to carefully iron out the game’s online issues under the guise of it technically not yet being released. When it did finally decide to flip the release switch, however, it was clear Blizzard had properly covered all of its bases as players were quickly throwing cards at each other without issue.

Every version of Diablo III, except for the initial release
Diablo III’s launch was terrible. I have a memory of my wife frustrated with a motionless progress bar as her window of playtime shrunk with work only a few hours away. All the while, I sat nearby playing Max Payne 3 (which released the same day) thankful online was not required to shoot people in slow motion.

Every other version of Diablo III and its recent expansion, Reaper of Souls, on the other hand, had successful launches. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game released last year without issue. The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions of the game, with the Reaper of Souls expansion which released last month, also launched without issue. The PC version of Reaper of Souls encountered some wait times for players, but compared to Diablo III’s initial launch? It was nearly flawless.

After games like Grand Theft Auto Online and Titanfall buckled under the weight of their early player count, it’s understandable that players might be unsure of playing Destiny right away. Bungie has a good history with their online play though, and Activision does as well with Call of Duty. And as the list above proves, it’s entirely possible to experience a good online launch, even with the expectation of many players. It’s fair to be optimistic about a smooth launch for Destiny, but we won’t know for sure until we dive in and (hopefully) start playing tomorrow.