Australia – The Oceanic Second Class Server Citizen (Editorial)

It’s 2023, the world is connected so well that distance, time zones, or any of the factors that hindered us from communicating and playing together, are long gone thanks to things like Fibre technology and Satellites… SO WHY THE FUCK IN 2023 CAN I NOT GET OCEANIC SERVERS IN ALL OF MY FUCKING GAMES!!! If World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV Online can do it, why can’t games like Street Fighter 6 & Tekken 8 do it too?

Yeah, this is going to be one of those “What about me?” rants from The Outerhaven’s lone Australian writer. Fucking deal with it.

Originally, I was going to do this long article about the Tekken 8 CNT that happened over the past weekend, then I actually played the game for a while. While Tekken 8 looks… Exactly like Tekken 7, and the gameplay pretty much came down to “first to juggle their opponent in the air wins”, the one thing that really pissed me off was waiting for a fight to connect. Now, some people might relate that to being a beta test, and not many people were selected, but I bring it down to the same fucking thing that happens every time a game is released: NO FUCKING OCEANIC SERVERS!!

Tekken 8
Tekken 8 An 88ms laggy online fight with an Oceania server user

In a 2 hour playtime with Tekken 8, I got 5 matches… 5 FUCKING MATCHES!! Most of the time I would get the “cannot connect to match” notification during 75% of the matches the game was trying to connect me to. Why? Because most of the matches were coming out of Europe and North America, which gives me the worst connections due to the international pipeline feeding out of Sydney being such a bottleneck that it kills the great speeds I get locally.

So what about those 5 matches? Well, 4 out of the 5 were saying they connected from “Oceania”, which would mean there is a server in Australia right? WRONG! Connections in Australia normally have 5 to 15-millisecond ping rates. The connections I got in Tekken 8: 70 to 100ms! And I even got massive frame stuttering on one fight from someone on that “server”. It wasn’t till I connected to a match in Asia that I understood… Tekken 8 has “Oceania” servers in FUCKING ASIA!

Street Fighter 6 does the same fucking thing. It has servers in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia… So guess where do Australian players like myself have to go to play online? FUCKING ASIA!! I even mentioned this in my Street Fighter 6 review, sparking my current frustration with the lack of proper Oceanic servers for my country.

World of Warcraft Street Fighter 6
These are the only server options available None of them are good for Australians

Australia has a great fighting game scene with some top-level players who could, and should, be on the international stage at EVO, CAPCOM Cup, Tekken Cup, and other FGC tournaments that the world gets to see on Twitch. However, because we get locked into the same geographical location as Asia (Oceania contains Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia.) we end up getting obliterated by the Japanese players as we have to do the same tournaments as they do, complete with them having server location advantage. It’s not a case of “Git Good” when you’re up against the best of the best. Asians are built differently, I’ll admit that.

I know that the rest of the world does not consider Australia a huge impactful part of the gaming community. We’re the most geo-locked locations on the planet, so making things for us costs a lot more with very little profit to be had. This is a huge part of why our cost of living is so high compared to America for example. However, as technology has been rolled out here that is on par with the rest of the world, we are still being left out when it comes to servers to play our games.

When a game launches, they know they can count on Europe, Asia, and America for big sales, so that’s why there will always be servers in these three locations. But for Australia, we’ve had to battle for those servers to be actually placed in Australia, not just lumped in with Asia, or worse, North America.

I’ve played World of Warcraft for well over a decade. I was there in the Vanilla days, playing on Cable Network internet (Capping out at 10gb/s download speed at the time) with a 250ms to 300ms ping on the North American servers we started on. However, on October 28, 2014; Ion Hassacostis announced that Australia would be the location for the Oceanic servers for the first time ever, with the actual server clusters hosted in Sydney rather than internationally.

I remember transferring my characters over to Dath’Remar, the server that they are on today, and watching as my ping went down to 33ms, a HUGE drop in latency for me. From that moment on, instead of pushing a button, waiting 3 seconds for the action to happen, and repeating; I was able to push the button and have things happen instantly! You have no idea what it was like to go from lagging all the time to actually having things work like they were intended to work.

But for World of Warcraft, which had over 10 million subscribers at the time, adding these servers helped them gain a huge Australian following as we were finally able to do things correctly… At least till they screwed the pooch with expansions like Shadowlands… But that’s a whole different rant that I’ve already done.

While I’m in the MMO genre, Final Fantasy XIV Online, the current most popular MMO on the market. Square-Enix only recently added Oceanic servers, again located in Australia, instead of pushing Australian players into socially segregated Japanese servers. Yes, Australians and other English speakers were forced onto Japanese servers with other English speakers to play Final Fantasy XIV Online. If you played on Japanese servers, you had to have Google Translate open at all times or you were going to not have a good time.

Australian servers for Final Fantasy XIV Online went online on January 25, 2022… Yep, over a year ago.

But what about other games? Well, as I pointed out before Street Fighter 6 & Tekken 8, two of the biggest fighting games on the market, throw Australians in with Asian servers. At least Street Fighter 6 is honest and just has Asia as an option. Tekken 8 has “Oceania”, a label that’s placed on an Asia-hosted server.

But what about the major players in gaming? PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo, Steam? Do they have servers in Australia or are they “Oceania” servers too?

I can vouch that Nintendo does NOT have servers in Australia. Sure, Nintendo region lock consoles, but those locks are for the EUROPEAN regions as Australia is technically a part of Europe. This is worse because Nintendo has an Australian distribution and service office in Australia… Only 40 minutes drive from my house! I’ve been in their office a few times. But nope, no Australian servers. The same goes for PlayStation, another company that locks Australian players into European regions and servers.

Mircosoft and Steam are the only two service providers that have actual servers in Australia. Microsoft is one of the longest supporters of Australian servers, dating back to the dial-up days with a partnership with Telstra, one of the biggest service providers in the country. Steam joined in with Australian server support in 2011, with a single server in Sydney, but now has servers in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Tasmania, and Brisbane. Steam is the largest gaming service provider in Australia these days, which helps a lot of PC players when it comes to games… Unless you are playing a non-Steam game, in which case, you are back to American or Asian servers.

Final Fantasy XIV Online Oceanic
Yes we are this meme here in Australia None of you would understand this

Lastly, we have a mountain of companies that won’t bother with Australian servers. Lost Arc made headlines for outright refusing to add servers to not only the Oceanic region but also SEA (South East Asia). Their whole issue is that these regions don’t mean anything to them because their profitability from them is not as high as America or Europe. We’ve also begun seeing this from companies that release special or collectors editions of games either not bothering with our country or restricting them so badly that companies like EB Games place harsh requirements upon the little bit we do get.

Look, I’m not asking for too much. I know not every game needs to have servers located in Australia to have their game operational. I’m just asking that when it comes to competitive games like MMORPGs with their PVP aspects, Fighting games where things like frames are needed (Rollback net code is a GREAT step in the right direction, but it’s not as good as local servers), and maybe racing games… And all of the major companies (Nintendo and PlayStation mainly, since Xbox already has local download servers) at minimum have servers located in Australia to download their digital games and services.

I know I’m screaming into the wind here. Most Americans don’t see issues with anything unless it affects them directly (I’ve had a similar rant fall on deaf American ears), and people in Europe still see Australia as that colony that England sent their criminals to… Or “cheaters” in Cricket. But maybe, just maybe, someone in Australian PR or some of the higher-ups in gaming companies might see this and understand that if you want to increase market share and profits in Australia, make services available to use in our own country so we can be equal with the rest of the world.