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The fall guys: why big multiplayer games almost always collapse at launch

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August 27, 2020 at 09:00AM

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When Mediatonic’s Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout suddenly stopped working after a successful launch, the developers were blamed. But the reasons for such outages are complex

On 4 August, British game studio Mediatonic launched a colourful and self-consciously silly game entitled Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, in which 60 players compete in zany challenges straight out of Takeshi’s Castle. After beta testing well, it attracted some online buzz, so the developer was prepared for a modestly successful opening day with maybe a couple of hundred thousand participants. Within 24 hours, more than 1.5m people attempted to play.

What happened next has become a familiar story in the world of online multiplayer games: the servers collapsed, the game stopped working and Mediatonic was inundated with furious complaints. Pretty soon, Fall Guys was being review-bombed on Metacritic by petulant players accusing the team of laziness and cynicism. Didn’t they prepare properly for launch? Why didn’t they see this coming?

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