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 1530 per cent increase in negative reviews over the weekend -- about 5400 on average per day up from an average of 350 negative reviews (and 1050 positive) across September. The barrage of hate is easy to visualise 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 $13 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. A lot 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.