'Destiny' Video Game Plans 6-Hour Downtime for Maintenance. How Could This Have Been Avoided?

    November 3, 2015

    By Dino Balafas

    Gamers around the world were left in withdrawal a few months back when the ‘Destiny’ video game went offline for six hours. Shutdowns like these for maintenance purposes are common in gaming, but better capacity planning could eliminate these stoppages entirely.

    When the Xbox game “Destiny” shut down its online activity for a full six hours, gamers had no choice but to wait until the scheduled maintenance was completed. These planned outages are common in the world of online gaming, but some argue that with better capacity planning, the maintenance could be done continually without taking systems offline and losing revenue.

    The shutdown was announced on Twitter by the game’s developer, Bungie, the creator of long-time fan favorites like Halo, Myth, and Marathon. The tweet warned that on Thursday, September 3, Destiny would be offline for maintenance starting at 8 AM PDT, with the completion of all maintenance expected around 2 PM PDT.

    Downtime in the Last City

    Destiny is a first-person shooter video game released on September 9, 2014, for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One consoles. Users play as a Guardian, a defender of Earth's last safe city, which they must protect from alien threats by travelling to different planets.

    While there’s never a good time to be cut off during your mission to save Earth from alien hordes, Venturebeat points out that this was particularly poor timing  Destiny had some time-limited challenges that users only had until Wednesday, September 9 to complete.

    What’s worse, this isn’t the first time that Destiny users have had to put up with a forced intermission. The last outage was in June, when downtime was chalked up to maintenance for “Future plans.” Fans took this as a reference to the game’s major expansion, “The Taken King,” which was recently released on the 15th of September. Express reports that the downtime was extended an additional hour, adding to fans’ frustrations.

    Impact on Revenue and Reputation

    Complaints mushroomed on social media and comment boards, with fans complaining that “Bungie needs to invest some of the million$ we pay in zero-downtime servers.” In a 24/7 industry like gaming, commentators have questioned how long customers will tolerate downtimes like these.

    Besides the impact on a company’s reputation, these stoppages could also put a considerable dent in Bungie’s revenue. Huffington Post Tech points out that downtime can be extremely costly, and urges companies to “future proof” their products.

    Uninterrupted Gaming

    You ability to avoid downtime depends entirely on effective capacity planning. Though the maintenance may have been scheduled for a predicted low-point in activity, it's possible for IT managers to avoid these service breaks entirely. But first, they have to learn how to properly distribute workloads between servers -- whether they're the physical servers they own and maintain themselves, or cloud servers rented from a provider like Amazon.

    Tools from TeamQuest will make it easy for your company to assess its infrastructure needs and capacity. With proper planning, it’s possible to temporarily redistribute workloads from a server in need of maintenance, rather than giving up on them completely.

    TeamQuest provides the framework for achieving IT service optimization maturity, ensuring that maintenance issues and spikes in demand don’t bring down servers. That could be good news for Destiny gamers  if Bungie gets better at capacity planning, there will be nothing to stop your fireteam from striking the Dreadnaught!

    (Main image credit: Raj Deut/flickr)