Electronic Arts has announced that its PS2 Online and Xbox Live titles - including the now-officially chart-topping Burnout 3: Takedown - will suffer a degree of downtime today as the publisher performs "scheduled server maintenance," including "lobbyserver deployment," for Burnout 3. Fans of the game will be hoping that this may go some way to alleviating the strain on EA's hardware that seems to have caused so much trouble for Criterion's game since its official release on Friday.
Tales of being booted off the service, Friends lists not appearing, being unable to log in at all, or onto particular lobbies, the game crashing as it tries to locate other players, and all manner of other quirks have led to something of a backlash against the game's online functionality, and publisher EA in particular, on many forums.
This reaction has been further exacerbated by several unfortunate omissions-by-design, like the absence of options to upload single-player high scores in the manner Project Gotham Racing 2 allowed, and the inability to record and relay your best crashes to other users. Other EA-specific elements of the service, like splitting the globe into lobby servers and forcing the gamer to opt out of various mailing lists before playing, have also come under fire from users angry at what they perceive to be an ill-conceived deviation from the streamlined and reliable Xbox Live model they have come to trust.
However, judging by a service announcement from EA's UK and Ireland support centre, EA is making a concerted effort to do something about the game's technical problems at least, which have so far been attributed to the game's unexpectedly meteoric success at retail: "On Tuesday, September 14, beginning at 1:00 AM PDT, the EA and Pogo.Com sites, PS2 and Xbox-Live games will experience a scheduled interruption of service for a software upgrade. Duration is expected to be 45 minutes for PS2 and Xbox games, and 50 minutes for Pogo.com," reps wrote to users.
"Customers will be unable to login to the PS2 games, Xbox Live games, and EA websites or message boards during the full duration of this downtime. Burnout (Xbox) will be down an additional 15 minutes while they undergo a lobbyserver deployment."
Whether that fixes the problems remains to be seen, and questions about EA's handling of online Xbox and PS2 titles will inevitably remain in any event. But, whatever the outcome, we should have a full review of the (otherwise excellent) Burnout 3: Takedown in the very near future.