As our regular users will have noticed, since the end of last week, Board Game Arena has been handling a very heavy load. More and more users are connecting and playing, from every part of the world.
This exceptional situation is putting online services under pressure. Because of Covid-19, many people are locked at home. We cannot visit friends. We cannot have parties. We cannot have game nights. So we are moving much of our lives online, and for people who love to play board games, that means playing online.
Of course, nobody could expect this situation. We were not prepared for this.
All the weekend, we have been monitoring the situation and working to find ways to handle the load better. Before last week, our highest load was about 4000 players connected at the same time. On Thursday, we hit 5000 and it was still ok. On Friday, we hit 7000 and the service crashed. We were able to restore it 40 minutes later, then found and solved the problem. We also set up some possibilities to disable non essential functionalities to prioritize welcoming people to play. On Saturday night, with those changes we managed to welcome up to 9000 players connected at the same time, with some lagging but without a major crash. That's a little crazy if you ask us
Then on Sunday, we were examining the situation and what we could do and realized that there were just too many issues and that we needed to limit the load in order to be able to work on the problems without being blocked by managing crashes all the time. So we put in place a limit to the number of connected users (premium excepted), that matches what the service can currently handle without major slowdowns.
Now, we will be working on increasing the server capacity to raise this limit progressively to be able to welcome more and more players with a correct service level. Maybe some people would think that "it's just a matter of setting up some some more servers", but it's more complicated than that. Some of the load can be distributed, some can not. What's causing problems is what cannot be distributed, the "bottlenecks". For example, in order to get into the games, you must all get in the same place to join games, in the game lobby. So among other things we are working on making the lobby able to hold more people at the same time.
To sum it up to our old users, please be patient! We are working on making things better. And to our new users, you are discovering the service at a very special moment, so you may encounter some unexpected issues. Sorry about that, but in any case, welcome! We are happy and proud to be able to provide a service that is appreciated in this stressful time.
Please take good care of you and of the communities around you in real life and online!
The BGA team.