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MLB The Show 18 server issues wreak havoc during early access

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Diamond Dynasty players are not happy

MLB The Show 18 - Addison Russell throwing to second base from his knees SIE San Diego Studio/Sony Interactive Entertainment

MLB The Show 18 went live last Friday for people who pre-ordered the game, and those customers have been dealing with all kinds of server issues in Diamond Dynasty, the game’s virtual trading card-based fantasy team mode. It’s a perennial problem for what is otherwise considered one of the finest simulation video games for any sport.

On the series’ subreddit and Twitter, people are complaining about problems like MLB 18 failing to record completed Diamond Dynasty games or missions, to award Stubs (the in-game currency) for selling Diamond Dynasty cards, to process card purchases, and even to provide Stubs that a player bought through a microtransaction. Some players have had cards pop up in packs but not actually show up in their collection.

Diamond Dynasty is a huge moneymaker for Sony San Diego. The mode is fueled by digital trading cards of MLB players and associated items like equipment and stadiums; customers buy packs of the cards with Stubs, which they can earn by playing the game or purchase with real money. Diamond Dynasty is particularly vital this year, since Sony San Diego removed microtransactions from Road to the Show, the single-player career offering that is also MLB The Show’s most popular mode.

Because Diamond Dynasty is an entirely server-based setup, network issues completely ruin the experience. The problems are bad enough that players are recommending that people stay away from the mode until Sony San Diego fixes the issues, which is something that Sony can’t be happy to see — from the perspective of developers trying to keep players happy, and the perspective of a company trying to make money on the game.

Sony San Diego was working on the issues over the weekend — the studio briefly took the MLB 18 servers offline for maintenance, and later asked people experiencing server troubles to report bugs. Today, the development team acknowledged the persistent network issues on Twitter, saying it has “identified issues regarding marketplace processing, in-game purchases/redemption and game scoring.”

The company added that it is “looking into the situation,” and noted that all offline modes in MLB 18 — including Road to the Show and Franchise — “should be operational.” That’s good to hear, although I ran into a Road to the Show bug yesterday that forced me to quit the game to the PlayStation 4 dashboard. Quitting resulted in losing some hard-won progress: a postseason win powered by 7.2 innings of shutout pitching from me.

The past few days constitute the early access period for MLB 18. While the game’s public release date is tomorrow, March 27, pre-order customers could begin playing at midnight on Friday, March 23. If the developers are able to fix the server issues before the game goes live for everyone tonight, that’ll be a point in their favor. But the people who would pre-order an annual simulation sports title are likely to be its most ardent fans, which makes the network problems particularly galling. It’s a shame that anybody who pre-ordered the game to play it early — including those who paid extra for one of its three special editions, which cost $69.99 or $99.99 — wasted any of the early access period dealing with bugs and server issues.

Again, this has been a problem in the past. In each of the past two years, for MLB 16 and MLB 17, Sony San Diego has had to apologize to players and offer a make-good for connectivity issues in the form of free Stubs and Diamond Dynasty packs. (And since there’s an in-game market for buying and selling Diamond Dynasty cards, flooding the system with free Stubs can lead to inflation.) The one silver lining in MLB 18 so far is that players haven’t been reporting severe issues playing online games. We’ll keep an eye on network health as the game goes live for the world tonight.