As the Diablo 4 beta approaches, we can't help but dread a demon from our past: Error 37

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(Image credit: Blizzard)

Remember Error 37? We first encountered it on May 8, 2012, one week before the launch of Diablo 3, when Blizzard gave us a heads-up that the error might pop when we tried to get into the game on launch day—but it was "no cause for concern, (opens in new tab)" they told us. Just, you know, give it a minute and try again.

Of course, it very much was a cause for concern. The Diablo 3 launch was "shaky," as we put it (very gently) in our summary (opens in new tab) of the release day situation. Servers were crushed as people struggled for hours to get in: Our "review as it happens (opens in new tab)" reflected the mood of the moment, calling the rash of errors, disconnects, and progress resets "utter bullshit." 

Blizzard was able to get things stabilized for most players within a day or two, and we ultimately gave the game an outstanding 90% in our full review. But the scars remain on Metacritic (opens in new tab), where Diablo 3 to this day holds a lowly 4.2 rating across more than 10,000 user reviews. 

And the mess reverberated beyond just review scores and angry comments: Blizzard refused to issue refunds to frustrated players in South Korea, which led to formal complaints and a stern talking-to from that country's Fair Trade Commission. Attitudes were quickly adjusted, and a few weeks later Blizzard's "no refunds" policy fell by the wayside (opens in new tab). (In South Korea, at least.)

And despite all the years past, fans haven't forgotten:

(Image credit: Reddit)
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What was particularly infuriating about the whole Error 37 debacle is that it prevented players from accessing Diablo 3 at all, even if they wanted to play the singleplayer campaign. Diablo 3 is always online, even if you're playing by yourself: Blizzard co-founder Mike Morhaime explained after it launched (and while players were still dicking around with its various issues) that being connected to the internet full-time was "critical" to Diablo 3's "long-term integrity (opens in new tab)," apparently even if it meant people couldn't actually get into the damn thing.

(Morhaime also defended the infamous Diablo 3 Auction House, saying Blizzard aimed to "provide convenience and peace of mind" for players who might otherwise be tempted to use third-party marketplaces to buy and sell items. The Auction House ultimately went away (opens in new tab), more than a year after Diablo 3 came out, but the always-online requirement remained.)

The whole thing was such a mess that, you guessed it, there were memes:

(Image credit: Source unknown)

(Image credit: Source unknown)

(Image credit: Blizzard)

(Image credit: Source unknown)

(Image credit: Source unknown)

I remind you of all this because, after long years of waiting, Diablo 4 (opens in new tab) is finally on the way, and public beta testing is almost upon us. First up is a closed beta test for everyone who's preordered the game, which kicks off at 9 am PDT on March 17 and runs 12 pm PDT on March 20. An open beta will follow a week later, from 9 am PDT on March 24 until 12 pm PDT on March 27. Don't forget that North America is currently in Daylight Saving Time while Europe is not, so you may need to adjust your timing accordingly, depending on where you live.

Preloads for both beta sessions will begin at 9 am PDT/12 pm EDT on the Wednesday before—so, March 15 and 22. The closed beta test will include three character classes—Barbarian, Rogue, and Sorcerer—while the open beta will add the Necromancer and Druid to the mix.

And in case you'd forgotten (it's been a long time, after all), Diablo 4, like its predecessor, will not have an offline mode (opens in new tab). Which takes us back to the beginning: We've come a long way since 2012, and mandatory internet connections are almost the norm at this point. Yet online games always seem to faceplant to some extent when the doors first open. The Diablo 4 beta (opens in new tab) may follow in that tradition (frankly, I'll be surprised if it doesn't) but let's all cross our fingers that we don't have to endure another error code that's so common it becomes a meme.

(Image credit: Source unknown)
Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.