Influx of Elite users “hit us a lot harder than we thought” it would, says Activision

By Stephany Nunneley
12 November 2011 19:15 GMT

Call of Duty VP of production, Daniel Suarez, has explained exactly what caused Call of Duty: Elite’s outage, how Beachhead Studios are going about fixing things.

Speaking in an interview with Joystiq, Suarez said Activision expected the launch of Modern Warfare 3 to be big, and expected “a tremendous amount of traffic” for Elite but turns out, the influx of user was a bigger than they had surmised.

“The high demand from the console application and registration on the website from the PC really crippled the registration and login process which then translated into the backend servers being slammed,” Suarez said. “So we’ve been working around the clock to alleviate access into the system and we’ve had a large number of people now able to register. We’ve resolved that piece of it and now we’re actually working on getting the service back up and running to a point where poeple can then enjoy it.”

Now, into the fourth day since launch, the service is still intermittent for some users, meaning it will work part of the time from some, but when logging back in later they run across issues.

Even though Activision and Beachhead held a beta for the service and planned for its launch alongside Modern Warfare 3, it was the actual influx from so many different areas of the globe that strangled the backend.

“We knew MW3 was going to be big and we planned for a big demand, it’s just the infrastructure is struggling to keep up with volume,” admitted Suarez. “We did a beta, the beta was intended to give us the data on how everything would behave with people hitting different parts of the service and different parts of the site. But when you add the complexities of it being not only an online service but one that has a console component, a PC component, and a soon-to-be-released mobile component, all being released at the same time, it’s never been done before at this scale.

“We know we’ve got this Founder’s opportunity, the ability to do double XP, and a lot of that drove people wanting to log in and register and be part of it. So I can’t say that’s what caused this. From the planning standpoint, we planned for it to be big. It’s Call of Duty, we have all our metrics. We know what our metrics are from Black Ops and MW2 and all the previous Call of Dutys, so we were planning for it to be big.

“But we just literally had so much influx right now from all the different areas, from the console and the web. It just hit us a lot harder than we thought.”

Suarez said the firm is still working around the clock in order to stabilize things, and users shouldn’t worry, as all stats are still being tracked and will be available in Elite when it goes back up.

An expected fix date hasn’t been provided as of yet, but the team wants to make sure it “doesn’t break anything else” and it provides an experience users were promised and expect.

“This is not the Elite experience we want people to have,” he said. “This is not what everybody worked two years plus for. This is not what the Beachhead Studios guys poured their heart and souls into. And we’re all committed.

“I don’t think there’s a bigger priority right now within Activision than to try and get this back up and running as quickly as possible.”

As compensation for not being able to log into the service, Activision is providing premium members with an extra 30 days of Elite at no additional cost, and extending Founder eligibility until the end of the month.

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