Titanfall - Angel City

Microsoft will be center stage tonight as Respawn Entertainment’s Titanfall begins to roll out at midnight across the globe.

Not only is the Redmond giant counting on tomorrow’s launch of Titanfall to spur sales of the Xbox One, but it will also be a huge test for Microsoft’s cloud technology.

That’s because the game, published by Electronic Arts, is taking the unusual approach of relying on Microsoft’s Azure cloud services, which up until now has mainly been hosting business applications. 

Hardcore gamers have become accustomed to blotched game launches with bogged-down servers incapability of meeting multi-player demands on day one, so all eyes will be on how well Microsoft is able to execute this one. And, unlike other game titles, like Call of Duty or Battlefield, Titanfall is arguably more susceptible to overloading because it cannot be played alone and must be played online in a six versus six multi-player environment.

The game goes live at midnight local time in North and South America, and on March 13, in Europe and all other markets where Xbox One is available. Depending on day one sales, it may have the same impact as other big Internet launches, like the premier of Netflix’s House of Cards on Amazon’s web services, which needed a war room to monitor up time.

Microsoft’s cloud technology is being used by Forza 5 Motorsport and other games, but Titanfall has much more riding on it. Microsoft is hosting parties at retail stores around the country tonight and last week it announced an Xbox One Titanfall Bundle, which includes an Xbox One console, an Xbox One chat headset, one month of Xbox Live Gold and a copy of Titanfall all for $499. That’s the same price for a standalone Xbox One. On its own, Titanfall costs $60.

titanfallserversJon Shiring, an engineer at Respawn who works on cloud technology, explained in a blog post why the game-maker made the decision to use Microsoft’s servers for the launch.

“With the Xbox Live Cloud, we don’t have to worry about estimating how many servers we’ll need on launch day,” he wrote. “We don’t have to find ISPs all over the globe and rent servers from each one. We don’t have to maintain the servers or copy new builds to every server. That lets us focus on things that make our game more fun. And best yet, Microsoft has datacenters all over the world, so everyone playing our game should have a consistent, low latency connection to their local datacenter.”

Any latency in the system can have a deadly impact on a virtual battlefield.

“A robotic bodyguard is useless if it takes even a millisecond longer for your Titan to detect an enemy than it does for the enemy to kill you,” according to an Engadget article, detailing Respawn’s decision to use Microsoft Azure’s platform. “If the technology hiccups because of a slow connection, the illusion breaks. At its core, Respawn’s use of Azure promises a consistently fast connection where you don’t see the stitches holding the game together.”

Update: In a statement, Microsoft said Titanfall’s launch is not a test for the company’s cloud technology. “Microsoft remains an industry leader in cloud investment with more than a decade of experience and service delivery and we have complete confidence in Windows Azure.”

Despite Microsoft’s and Respawn’s confidence in the system, there’s a contingency plan.

During a beta conducted in February, the studio intentionally limited number of servers to discover where the infrastructure’s weak points were when running at a full load, Respawn explained to Engadget. At one point, a portion of Europe’s data centers were running at full player capacity and couldn’t accept more users. The affected players were moved over to the East Coast’s U.S. data centers.

“We don’t look forward to doing that at all, but if we have a bunch of people sitting unable to play the game, then we’re going to make sure that the experience is good enough -– maybe not ideal -– to get them playing,” Shiring told Engadget.

In other words, will it be Titanfall or Titanfail?

Related: Xbox Live is down, but Microsoft says it has nothing to do with Titanfall

Comments

  • balls187

    Can’t be worse than SimCity 5.

    Using cloud is a way smarter approach, because in theory, they can easily add more instances to handle load.

  • Nathan

    Azure has been hosting Halo for quite some time. You realize Azure is made up of more than a million servers, right?

  • SinistradTheMad

    Looks like it’s more Fail than Fall. Haven’t been able to connect to a PC game yet.

    • lubba

      Maybe you need to pay your monthly internet access charge.

      • ipeedonyou

        Right.. place blame on the user “not paying his internet bill” and not the shitty game. Makes sense.

        • lubba

          I think you’re not understanding. He said he cannot connect. So who making sense here. Go back and train your brain again.

    • balls187

      Had to play in SE Asia to get through

  • Justin

    Been stuck at the retrieving matchmaking list for an hour with no sign of change in the future or nothing telling me why I’m pretty sure the east coast had allot more people trying to play you would think someone in Pittsburgh wouldn’t have trouble getting a match but I guess they aren’t prepared.

  • MJ
  • Allen

    Been working perfect for me. Great game.

  • SadPanda

    Looks like it’s Titanfail. xBox live has crashed and we are unable to play because they decided to make it online only.

  • ipeedonyou

    All of these “parties” at retailers and lame duck promotions and advertising
    just reek of desperation lol!

  • AzureFail

    ANNNNND its down. It’s down your severs are down. Poof! Sorry no titanfall. No xbox live! Poof!

  • YOUDIEMOFO

    “Maybe not ideal, but it will get them playing……” WHAT!?

    AAA game and this is the stuff they’re talking about up to launch?!

    Wow…….how companies these days approach and “supposedly” find solutions to issues already “stitched” together to begin with.

    • Steph

      Lol u a huge sony fanboy trolling again? Surprise surprise.

  • Kenneth Hagist

    #Titanfail for the people I talked to. It took one friend 21 hours to download and update the game before he got a chance to play (he purchased as a digital copy). As of this morning, he got to play the tutorial :

  • sampson3121

    to bad it crashed eh! so much for cloud

  • kmuzu

    Many people, including me can’t get the game to install. There is something wrong with the audio files. This is another horrible EA game. Why do I do this to myself?

    http://answers.ea.com/t5/Titanfall/Titanfall-wont-install-audio/td-p/2457836

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