History of Battleground Europe

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Major Dates

  • 1999(exact date?): Founding of company.
  • 2000 (exact date?): Launch of Beta on Windows
  • 2001, June 6: Start of paid service: (coincided with D-Day, Allies invasion of continental Europe)
  • 2002, September: Macintosh release with 1.6.7
  • 2003?: Added major strategic elements
  • 2004?: Completely new UI
  • late 2005: (Dec 27) and in US early 2006: Major Europe release by GMX Media (Europe) and Matrix Games (USA).
  • 2008: 1.28 New strategic supply and movement features, including supply linked to a brigade, not town.
  • 2009: 1.30 Chinese support for a China only server.
  • 2010: Major update to game world in 1.31

General Release History in ReadMe's

Go here to see and read the Readme's.

Continual Incremental Updates

Like most online games, WWIIOL is a continual work in progress, and so has a history of updates that are frequently released to add new features, fix problems and improve existing features. Updates, or patches to the game code, are released every few months. These patches generally include a wide range of features and problem fixes. Everything from new weapons and vehicles to audits of the performances of existing weapons and vehicles are part of the patching process as well as terrain, structure, game play and performance improvements.

Reviews

Initial Launch

The initial launch had a number of technical difficulties. The game required a 70 MB update to be downloaded before they could play online. At the time, the majority of users had 56k modems, requiring around 3 hours to update the game. As the developers worked feverishly behind the scenes to complete other promised features and fix the software bugs on the gold CD, even more updates became necessary.

Three days prior to release, the colocation network facility had a bad fiber optic cable. This failure reduced the player capacity of the server cluster, from 10,000 players down to only 1200 players. As a temporary workaround, Playnet set up multiple copies of the game-world on different servers, distributing the network load, but at some cost in game play. This solution lasted for several months while the developers resolved the server-side issues, after which all servers were merged into a single game-world.

Some features advertised on the game box were partially implemented, or missing, such as rank and high-command strategic features.

The combination of the above problems resulted in game returns, complaints from customers, and a drop-off in sales as word spread of the game's state. Subscription fees for the first several months were waived, until the major problems with the game were resolved. This helped to retain many of the players, especially the long-term fans of the project, but it was not long before Playnet had financial problems. They filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in late 2001, and cut costs, resulting in a number of lay-offs within the company.

Statements from both the developer (CRS), and publisher (Strategy First), indicated that CRS wanted a longer open beta, but the game was launched anyway, due to financial reasons.

Despite the problems in the early release, the CRS development team continued to support and improve the game, through frequent patch releases, upgraded servers and periodic investment in improved network infrastructure.

Re-release

WWIIOL recently completed a third retail release under the new campaign title Battleground Europe. This new title was chosen because of legal considerations with the old title of Blitzkrieg, whose trademark was owned by another game. The Battleground Europe re-release was distributed across Europe in late 2005 and in the US in early 2006 by the game's new publishers GMX Media (Europe) and Matrix Games (USA).

World War II Online: Battleground Europe was largely a compilation of fixes already available through patches to the original game. However, compared to the initial 2001 release, the game was drastically different due to these changes.

The launch of Battleground Europe included an extensive open beta, and was based largely on a proven product. As such, it was met with considerably more favorable reviews in the media.