The topic of online games and Australian-based servers (or lack thereof) is a sensitive topic, though companies do come through from time to time. When they don't, the last thing you expect is to have your entire region blocked because of widespread connection issues, as some Oceanic players of FPS Escape from Tarkov believed yesterday.
Update 1:40pm AEST: Battlestate Games COO Nikita Buyanov has responded to Kotaku Australia's request for comment:
We are currently working to rectify the issues arising out of absence of Australian/Oceanic servers. Although we have not enforced any purposeful lockout of any kind lack of space combined with high latency on existing servers may have left some players thinking that we had.
Please be assured that this is not the case; thanks to alerts from our players, we are now actively working to set up adequate servers in the region. We would like to apologize to all our supporters in Australia, New Zealand and Oceania for the displeasing experience and promise that we shall take any steps necessary to prevent it from happening again.
Original story follows.
It all appears to have started with a passionate post from a user named "GGBUTT" in the game's subreddit — included threats of ACCC involvement — and spiralled from there.
Fortunately, the issue appears to have been resolved, though that didn't stop some from coming up with more sinister theories.
Anecdotal evidence from Oceanic players suggested that some sort of block was, or had been, in place, preventing players from Australia and New Zealand from connecting to the game. The idea being it was a bandaid fix to minimise connectivity problems for US and European users.
With no immediate communication from developer Battlestate Games, players unsurprisingly assumed the worst.
While Battlestate failed to respond in time to Kotaku Australia's request for comment, community manager "BSG_ArmaSwiss" did reply to users on the game's subreddit, stating that there was no lockout for Oceania, or any region for that matter:
Because there is no plausible reason to block entire regions in the middle of the Beta Admission Waves.
Put the tin foil hat down. This issue is affecting people outside of Oceanic/Africa/Asia.
I'm not a network tech nor am personally involved with the troubleshooting and correction. THAT is left done to the actual technicians, not me. I'm a Jr Community Manager.
It's being investigated, its being worked on and it will be fixed. All you are doing by making up these wild claims and accusations is doing nothing but hurting the community and spreading rumors.
BSG_ArmaSwiss goes on to mention that fixing the connection problems would be a "priority task for the Technicians". Going by further comments on the Escape from Tarkov forums (registration required), the issues do seem to have been mostly addressed.
On the game's official forums, developer "Natalino" confirmed that Oceanic servers are planned, though no date was provided:
Asian and Oceanic servers will be added. We cannot give you any exact time or estimation for now but know that you are not forgotten and you will get a good treat from BSG. Currently, the number of players in these regions are getting estimated along side other regions and the servers will be available. You are surely heard and noticed. Hang tight! Thanks!
I think it's a little far-fetched to say Battlestate has it out for Oceanic players or saw a temporary region lock as the lesser of two evils. In any case, the long-term effects seem to be nil and with local servers promised, Escape from Tarkov is already doing better than a lot of online games.
We'll update this story if and when we get an official comment from Battlestate.
[h/t John Withers]