How to fail a launch / Goko’s Dominion Online

I’ve been tracking this story for a few days but Goko.com has been touting their new online gaming platform for the last few days as the replacement for all those Dominion clones out there. They’ve failed spectacularly and it’s (currently) like a trainwreck ; difficult to watch, yet you can’t take your eyes off of it.

For years, there’s been great online dominion experiences like isotropic which have allowed players to log thousands of games online. While not the best experience (no artwork and a rather simple UI), it definitely gets the job done and allows many players to play very fast and quick games of Dominion online.

For many moons, players have known that these would eventually go away once Dominion’s official online game was released. Very few details have been posted about when that would happen and last week, we found out that it would be this last Thursday the 16th.

That day has come and passed and Goko’s online system is still not functional. In fact, according to their twitter feed, they’ve gone back into Beta.

Now, I thought this was entirely due to load. It’s tough to launch a new platform online. Blizzard had their infamous Error 37 when trying to log millions of players onto Diablo 3 at the same time. In fact, load is a really hard problem to solve. There’s not a lot of companies who have gotten it right. Companies need to do proper load and stress testing, figure out their bottlenecks and ways to mitigate the issues. This was clearly not done in Goko’s case as their servers died on day 1.

But it seems that their issues are not entirely due to load. It seems they also have HUGE FUNDAMENTAL SECURITY ISSUES. Problems like sending passwords in plaintext (basically, sending out your passwords verbatim over the internet…this is a no-no), not sanitizing javascript strings in the chat window (people can execute code on your machines), etc.

These are huge problems! I applaud the company for bringing their game back into Beta and can at least forgive their load issue but that’s far too many security issues for a product. Security, particularly when the application deals with financial transactions (buying game expansions) needs to be the highest priority. It’s inexcusable for a released product to have such wide spread issues.

Personally, I’m avoiding this product until I see enough of a change come from these guys. I’m surprised they opted to create their own platform for the financials with what seems like very little experience with developing such a thing. (Sheesh, I’m still blown away by plaintext passwords…)

What kills me is that I was so jazzed about using this type of platform….

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