Blizzard's community manager "Bashiok" claims on Twitter that the number of concurrent users playing the Diablo 3 beta over the weekend peaked at 300,000 gamers. The total number of users test-driving the highly-anticipated Diablo sequel is currently unknown, but Bashiok said it was "a lot."
The purpose of the beta weekend was to see how the servers could handle the load all at once. Given that fans have waited since 2000's Diablo 2 for another installment, it's only natural to assume that every single fan was waiting for the doors to swing open on Friday, especially those who didn't make it into the closed beta. Just imagine a mad crowd waiting for the doors to open on Black Friday, and you'll understand why Blizzard wants to be fully prepared for May 15.
"Every time we tried to log in this weekend and failed, we were doing our part to help Blizzard,"Forbes reports, describing its difficulties in loggin into the game and staying connected during the flood of anxious gamers. "This would help explain why their response to all inquiries was “keep trying.” They wanted people to copy/paste their passwords every four seconds and try to log in. That’s exactly the sort of 'stress' they need to test."
"Shortly after the beta opened up on Friday, fans were greeted with login errors - particularly server full errors," GameZone states (opens in new tab). "Error 37 was the most frequent as servers reached their capacity. According to Blizzard, 'this was likely due to us lowering the concurrency cap to address an issue or error.'"
The public beta reportedly contained the same content seen in the closed beta: access to the five characters, and a portion of Act I which concludes by defeating the Skeleton King. The difference was that it only allowed characters to level up to 13. But like the closed beta testers, all characters will be killed off once the actual retail version goes live on May 15. Bummer, we know.
With the beta weekend now over, does that mean the Diablo 3 Starter Edition was more than a mistaken beta client? Probably not. As reported last week, those who downloaded and played the leaked client was asked to purchase the full game. What's possible is that Blizzard provided the Starter Edition to beta testers for the weekend stress test, but turned off the nag screen and activated other limitations like level caps and more.
That said, it wouldn't be surprising to see the actual Starter Edition launch before the full version goes retail in order to see how the servers handle the load over a longer period. Yet Blizzard didn't take that route with StarCraft 2, so we may have to wait until May 15 before he get a taste of Diablo 3 again. Let's hope not.