What happened now? Connection issues due to server overload are nothing new when the highly anticipated multiplayer game launches, which happened with Overwatch 2 this week. However, Blizzard blames some of the new game’s initial woes on DDoS attacks, which remain a growing threat.
Enough players had trouble logging into Overwatch 2 before the game’s launch that it became a meme. Blizzard employees say the company is battling at least two DDoS attacks that have flooded their servers.
Blizzard President Mike Ybarra recorded a drop in connections during the first attack on Tuesday. Wednesday Aaron Keller of Blizzard said the company will work through the night to deal with the second DDoS incident. They did not provide information on the severity of the attacks, but said they were making progress in restoring server stability.
In addition to the usual reports of long wait times or server timeouts, some users informed see tens of thousands of players ahead of you in queues for servers. Former Gears of War and Lawbreakers developer Cliff Bleszinski joked that the server error message has become an official subtitle of Overwatch 2. Blizzard too aware issues that occur when some players merge their PC and console accounts.
Unfortunately, we are seeing a massive DDoS attack on our servers. Teams are hard at work on mitigation/management. This causes a lot of drop/connect issues. https://t.co/4GwrfHEiBE
— Mike Ybarra (@Qwik) October 4, 2022
Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, where a malicious network of bot systems disables a target system by flooding its bandwidth, are one of the oldest and simplest forms of cyberattacks, but nonetheless difficult to prevent. Attackers can send massive numbers of virtual systems or infected IoT devices to hit their targets while masking their origins with a VPN. They are frequent in part because ordering a DDoS attack from hackers on the dark web can cost as little as a few hundred dollars.
Attacks are not only cheap, but also grow in size and become smarter. In June, Cloudflare stopped a DDoS attack that resulted in 212 million HTTPS requests from over 1,500 networks in 121 countries using just 5,067 devices. Typical attacks use many more devices, which adds up to far fewer requests. Last month, Akami battled an attack that reached a record speed of 704.8Mpps.
Overwatch 2 became available to the public on October 4, replacing the original Overwatch, which is no longer available. The game uses Battle Passes to unlock characters and other content, with successive seasons adding new characters and cards over time. PvP in the game is free, and Blizzard plans to introduce a paid PvE mode next year.