In the time of social distancing, online gaming with friends seems like a no-brainer to stay sane and pass the time. Except if you’ve tried lately, it seems like every major service has been petering in and out.
The latest is Nintendo. This morning, the Nintendo eShop is borked for both U.S. and UK users. Not to mention Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’s online features failed to load in the UK. Gizmodo tried accessing the eShop this morning and after a much longer than usual load time, we received an error message. Nintendo confirmed on its Japanese Twitter that as of March 17 at 5:56pm in Japan, all of its network services had failed. This tracks, given that Nintendo has a cloud problem. It’s more concerning given Animal Crossing: New Horizons is slated for launch later this week, and as more folks practice social distancing, many are holding the game up as an ideal way to pass the time. So much so that as of this writing, over 20,300 fans have signed a 4-day-old Change.org petition for the game to be released early.
But it’s not just Nintendo. Peeping at DownDetector’s Twitter feed is a sobering look at just how many online gaming services have experienced outages in the past 24 hours. Overwatch, Blizzard’s Battle.net, Runescape, Counter-Strike, Steam, Minecraft, and Xbox Live have all had issues in the last day. Xbox Live and Playstation Network also faltered over the weekend, as did popular game titles on varying services such as Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, GTA 5, Fortnite, Apex Legends, Destiny, and Call of Duty. Even gaming chat service Discord has struggled, along with live-streaming service Twitch. It’d be one thing if it were just one service at one point—but it would appear that many games and services are experiencing repeated outages.
Gizmodo reached out to Xbox Live, Blizzard, Steam, Nintendo, Epic Games, and Sony to ask what plans the companies had with regard to maintaining connectivity given the likely increase in online gaming over the next few weeks. None immediately responded, and we’ll update when they do.
Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean that online gaming is completely impossible. It just may not be quite as smooth as we’d all hoped. It also might be prudent to keep all this in mind in light of all the gaming sales going on right now. It’s probably a good idea to mix up your gaming library to include titles that don’t rely on a multiplayer aspect or cloud saves. As my partner said sadly over the weekend, “I just wanted to play Halo.”