Following community reports from Australian Diablo 3 players having noticed their in-game connection quality had markedly improved, publisher Blizzard Entertainment has confirmed in an official announcement that it has indeed deployed local game servers for Diablo 3 in Australia, ahead of the upcoming launch of the Reaper of Souls expansion.
“We’ve listened to community feedback and set a goal of improving the game experience for Diablo players in Australia and New Zealand,” said Paul Sams, chief operating officer of Blizzard Entertainment. “By deploying local game servers to the region in time for the release of Reaper of Souls, we aim to make slaying demons more fun—for the heroes, at least. Malthael’s in for a world of hurt.”
Located in a Sydney datacentre, the servers are now running local Diablo 3 game instances started by Australian players. An official FAQ explains that Australian players still default to the North American region, and connect through Battle.net service there -- so friends lists and saved character etc will remain the same -- but when a game is launched, the server instance is now spawned on the new Sydney-based hardware, offering local players a much smoother game experience.
Notably, the arrangement still allows Australian and North American players to play together (or Asia and Europe via ‘global play’), with the server instance being established locally to whichever player started the game. Limited availability of the Australian hardware might still see some Australian players spawning US-hosted servers, with the exception of death-is-permanent hardcore characters, which Blizzard says will be restricted to local servers only, with a queuing system if they’re full.
Australian gamers have been begging Blizzard for local servers for its various PC games for many years, so it’s great to see some love coming to Diablo 3. As for its other games, the publisher remains tight-lipped, only saying “we will continue to explore optimal server solutions for all of our franchises in each region”.
The forthcoming MOBA/ARTS title Heroes of the Storm seems a likely candidate, and perhaps StarCraft 2 if we’re lucky. World of Warcraft, not so much, as it would still require enough local players to sustain a viable game world/economy, and to justify the publisher's hosting expense. Who knows though, maybe they'll surprise us.
The new servers are active now for players to enjoy, so jump in and report back with your experiences in the Comments section.