“Executing staff members. We’ll be back in about 30 minutes…
Thank you for your patience!
– The GamersGate team”
– comment on the Steamgifts forum [now locked]
Gamersgate, a popular online video game retailer, sported this message today after the site crashed a few hours ago. The reason? In what seems to be an astonishing pricing error, A 4-pack of Borderlands 2 (that is, a pack of 4 legal copies of the new shooter) was available for just $2.82. Within minutes the site was swamped by thousands of users clamouring to buy the game, which usually sells for $60 a copy. A 4-pack usually retails for $179. The game purchase was delivered as a redeemable keycode for Valve’s Steam platform. Once redeemed, the digital copy of the game would be downloaded to the user’s computer.
According to multiple forum threads on steamgifts.com, the price fluctuated very rapidly within minutes – jumping back and forth between $6 and $3 rapidly. Under the mass of simultaneous purchases, the site slowed down to a crawl before crashing. Many of the buyers were apparently frozen at the checkout process, with only a few lucky early birds nabbing their copy of Borderlands. Latecomers could not get past their logins, account verifications and such. Eventually Gamersgate was shut down. According to users, it took nearly 2 hours for the site to return.
It’s literally one of the most spectacular crashes in the history of the otherwise smooth-as-silk process of buying video games online. Compare these standard Steam prices to that ridiculously low $2.82 price and you’ll see why the site was swamped – and why, right now, heads are (probably) rolling behind the gates.
For those of you who are still wondering what Gamersgate is, they’re a digital game distribution store founded by Paradox Interactive in 2006 with the intent of distributing games to countries where they had no physical presence. A lot of Sri Lankan gamers who buy legitimate copies of games frequent Gamersgate and Steam for their online purchases. Currently Gamersgate sells over 3000 games by over 250 publishers – including pretty big guns like Electronic Arts, THQ, 2K Games, Epic, Bethesda and Ubisoft. A mess-up of this magnitude is going to result in some bad vibes in very high places.