Battlegrounds’ Steam reviews tanked over the weekend after over 20,000 negative reviews, many from China, flooded the blockbuster survival-shooter’s page. Chinese players appear to be suffering from the worst connectivity to Battlegrounds in the world and these players are furious that, now, Battlegrounds is advertising a paid, third-party “internet accelerator” right on its menu.
After months of mostly positive reviews, Battlegrounds saw a 1,530% increase in negative reviews over the weekend—about 5,400 on average per day up from an average of 350 negative reviews (and 1,050 positive) across September. The barrage of hate is easy to visualize thanks to Steam’s new histogram feature, which Valve added last month in response to a recent trend of negative “review bombing”. Right now, Battlegrounds’ Steam page is lit up with fiery red comments:
As of this weekend, Battlegrounds’ Chinese server is getting around 500 ping, according to a site created to measure Battlegrounds connectivity. That’s the number of milliseconds (about half a second) it takes for a signal to get to the Chinese server and back. Anything above 150 ping is considered very, very bad, and so players are having difficulty logging in, staying online, shooting accurately, being aware of enemies and so on. It looks to be the worst of any server, according to that same measuring site. It’s unclear when these connectivity problems started, although a new patch preceded them. The bulk of Battlegrounds’ recent negative reviews are from Chinese players who are upset about this.
What’s really making these players furious is that an advertisement for the gaming “internet accelerator” company (essentially a virtual private network, or VPN service) XunYou is appearing on Battlegrounds’ menu as an integrated button. The service, which costs about $10 per month, advertises itself as “Battlegrounds’ only official accelerator” on its website. Chinese players are seeing ads for the service on Battlegrounds’ lobby screen.
Gaming online in China can be challenging because of the country’s restrictive approach to the internet. China has banned many major services and websites, including Facebook and Google, and the country is cracking down on VPNs that citizens previously used to connect to those sites. Lots of online games are essentially unplayable in China without third-party tech.
BlueHole, which is based in Korea and on holiday, has not responded to multiple request for comment.
[Update—10/3/2017 4:25 p.m.]: In a blog post, Battlegrounds’ development team acknowledged issues Chinese players are having with the game’s Asian server as well as greater connectivity issues reported by players internationally:
The number of users increased faster than our development speed which resulted in more connection and server issues recently. It has become increasingly difficult to manage servers during peak times. To alleviate the above, our development team will prepare our servers far more in advance so that they can handle a much larger number of concurrent players. This is something that we plan to continuously improve on.
Many players have asked us about the increased number of server crashes in Asia. Recently, the number of concurrent players in Asia has rapidly increased and there were times the cloud service we’ve been using could not provide more physical servers. To address this problem, we added servers from another cloud service without sufficient testing. Some servers overloaded, which caused frequent crashes.
The Battlegrounds team has not yet responded to questions regarding the XunYou internet acceleration service.