Monday, September 15, 2014

Sony's PSN BOARing Destiny Players to Death

For those of you only interested in knowing the fix to Destiny's "Destiny expansion content damaged or missing... ERROR: BOAR" fix without reading about my trials and tribulations, you can skip right to the bottom. Otherwise, buckle up. You're in for a ride.

Before I chronicle my ups and downs with my PS3, PSN and Destiny, I should first admit that the only games I played for any length of time on my PS3 were DUST514 - due mainly to my Clan: Da Short Buss -  and Demon's Souls. I had a few other disc based games like the God of War series, but that was about it. So I didn't really know or care very much about using the PS3 online. Keep that in mind as I spin my tale. So now it begins....


The whole thing started back in May of this year, prior to the June 2014 E3 convention. Everyone was getting absolutely ripped about Destiny and the upcoming BETA. I placed a pre-order on Amazon to get access. At that point, I was really thinking about taking delivery from Amazon because there was no news regarding Destiny launch details for Taiwan. When would it be available? What about some of the collector's editions? Sadly there were no answers at that point.

So I got my pre-order in, and I got my BETA codes. July came, and so did the BETA. However the first bit of bad news was that Taiwan was not in a participating region, so my codes were basically garbage. I didn't get in, and I didn't get a chance to experience this game with my clan. The only bit of good news was that Sony Taiwan finally announced launch details for Destiny in Taiwan, and I happily cancelled my Amazon pre-order, opting for a local purchase instead.

Fast forward to September. On September 8th, one day before the official launch. I called up my local game store and they said they had a limited numbers of physical copies of Destiny for the PS3, and all the physical premium collector's editions were already sold out. They weren't sure if they had enough physical PS3 copies on launch day, and due to the time difference between Asia and the US, they were obligated to start sales on September 10th, so as not to "launch" before the official release in the US on September 9th.

At this point, I checked on PSN and saw the Digital Guardian Edition available for download on the 9th! Apparently, the digital download editions all went live at the same time worldwide regardless of timezones. I thought, "Hey, this is great!" I can buy my copy and play right away on the 9th and not even have to go into the game store... 

And here is where my real troubles began. First of all, I've never purchased anything online from Sony or PSN. EVER. I've been mostly a Microsoft and Xbox 360 die-hard and did all my gaming on the 360 last generation. So I didn't know I had to activate my PS3 first to even get it ready to go online and make purchases. Yeah, I know... RTFM.

So what happens when I get online with my credit card to fill my wallet? NADA. I kept getting errors and could not charge my card. I even got a call from my credit card company because they saw the card being repeatedly submitted for payment but it got declined. So they put a freeze on the account. 

Instead of checking documentation, I did the next best thing. I decided to go online and buy the credits I needed digitally to activate PS+ and to have enough PSN credits to purchase the Guardian Digital Edition. I ended up contacting about 4 or 5 sites that sold digital PSN codes over the next 12 hours. Why so many? Because I kept getting declined and my purchases refunded. Since I was a first time customer, they all saw such a large initial purchase amount as a potential fraud risk and they all raised red flags. Needless to say, I was incredibly pissed. By now, I could have gotten my ass out of my chair and gone to the game store to pick up a physical copy. But I digress...

It was already late afternoon on September 10th. I called my credit card company AGAIN, multiple times in fact, and also talked to Sony support - who, by the way, weren't really that helpful. So I decided to talk to my local game store and found out that consoles are region specific even if there are no region locks on physical games. They told me they did have PSN cards for sale, but I needed to know which region to buy otherwise they won't work.

So I asked them, "How do I find out what region my PS3 is set to?" They asked what language my PS3 was set to, and I said, "English." They said well, most likely my console was set to US region, but I should bring it in and let them check, just to be sure. I wasn't going to drive down there with my PS3 for them to check! If I wanted to do that, I'd just go and buy the damn game! I decided to check the internet. I found on a Playstation Forum post that to figure out what region I'm in, all I had to do was sign into my PSN account and go to the About page. So I did this on my PC (BIG MISTAKE), and after signing in found that my About page was from the US Sony site.

So now "armed with the knowledge" that my PS3 was US region, I went and negotiated with one of the online vendors that refused to take my order. After sending some documentation to them, they relented and accepted my order for 2 x $50 digital PSN cards and a 12 month PS+ subscription card, all US region. So now, thinking I'm all set, I get online and punch in the codes; and to my horror they came up as invalid. I tried again. Nope. I tried on my PSN account via PC. Nope. I tried on my PS3 again. Nope.

By now it was about midnight September 10th,  and at this point I decided to RTFM, which is exactly what I should have done in the first place. I belatedly found out that I had to ACTIVATE my PS3 in order to make online purchases - due to the way Sony's DRM policy worked. WONDERFUL.

After activating my PS3, I tried the codes again. NOPE. STILL didn't work. I was really starting to feel like screaming. Saying I was frustrated would be like the understatement of the century. I checked the About page from my PS3. Uh oh. It says I'm in the Hong Kong region. FUCK ME!

To add insult to injury, I just realized that I now had $150 worth of digital PSN codes that were useless to me. I paid more actually since they had to be pre-activated by the vendor and they charge for that service. Then a lightbulb went off in my head. I pulled out my credit card again and tried to purchase Destiny from the Playstation Store. This time... SUCCESS!


I also immediately purchased a one year PS+ subscription because I'm sure I'll be playing this game with my clan  for a very long time to come. By now it was already early morning September 11th, but I was a man on a mission. I was going to complete this no matter what the cost!

So I downloaded Destiny and installed it. It was actually about 3:30am local time September 11th. To my horror, I got the now infamous, "Destiny expansion content seems to be damaged or missing... " error message with the error code BOAR. So I go on the Bungie website and see that their advice is to delete the installation and re-install. Which I did.

I did this a total of 4 times taking nearly 3 hours each time because I had to re-download the install file and then finally install it. Each time I got the same error. By now I was really getting steamed. I called up Sony support in Taiwan the afternoon of September 11th, and they said for me to take a picture of my screen to document the error and then send it in to the support email with their provided service ticket number. I did so. But in the meantime, I continued to re-download and install Destiny another 3 times on the off chance that this was just some sort of server glitch due to the launch.

3am, September 12th. I'm Googling everything I can find about the BOAR error message. I am also looking at the BUNGIE.NET forum - which is mostly useless by the way. I couldn't find any reliable information online, or perhaps I just didn't know what I was looking for at the time.Throughout the day, I posted twice on the Bungie forum on September 12th hoping some helpful soul would answer me. Nothing.

I call up PSN Support in Taiwan during the day of the 12th. I asked them if they had made any headway on my support ticket. Amazingly they told me that they already forwarded the issue to the relevant vendor, meaning Activision/Bungie. I literally blew my stack. WTF!?! I told them, "Look, I don't need you to do that! I could do that and in fact I already did!" What I needed them to do was to test Destiny locally to confirm that what I had was a repeatable problem and that they worked to find a fix. They told me that they don't test software issues and only pass them to the related vendors.

I was speechless. When I did get the gift of gab back, I immediately demanded a full refund for my purchase, since, I had literally an $85 paperweight. Not even.. as being digital, it only existed in Cyberspace and as bits of zeroes and ones on the harddisk inside my PS3. I told them that in no uncertain terms would I not allow them to rest until they found an answer to this issue as I rightly believed it affected everyone in Taiwan, not just my self.

Then in the early hours of September 13th, I see a similar post from someone else as a trending help topic on Bungie's forums. It had replies, so I decided to check it out. LO AND BEHOLD, and BY SHEER LUCK one of the replies pointed to an earlier Bungie post that said, in effect, that the interim fix was to set up a US account in order to get access to Destiny's Compatibility Pack 1. So that's what that 170mb expansion content was; and it was PSN's fault that the file wasn't downloading outside of the US!

I immediately set up a fake US account and was able to use it to download the missing file. I could feel I was finally nearing the end of my long journey and there was light at the end of the tunnel. Destiny booted.. SUCCESS! But as soon as I got to the character customization screen I got booted 5 times due to CATERPILLAR before I could even set up my first character. Then I must have replayed the fist tutorial mission about a dozen times before I could finish it as a Level 2 Warlock.

I spent the next two days messing around with my network settings, checking on which ports I needed to forward in my router - which didn't work, by the way. The best way was to allow the DHCP server in my router to dynamically assign IPs (instead of using static ones) and to enable UPnP. Still I ended up getting a lot of CENTIPEDE errors. I went so far as to try out a VPN to see if that would help. NOPE. Destiny was pretty much unplayable as I was getting booted every few minutes due to CENTIPEDE - and I WASN'T behind a University Firewall.


It was on the morning of the 14th that I got an email message from PSN support that they were still working on my reported issue (YEAH RIGHT), but in the meantime they refunded my NTD2,690 purchase price for Destiny. The bit of good news here? They didn't delete or deactivate my Destiny purchase. I've still got everything and it works. So after all this, I got my Destiny for FREE.

But to be honest, the amount of time and effort I wasted on trying to get this game and then to get it up and running, I consider this a barely acceptable bit of compensation. I can tell you that a weeks' worth of my time going balls out night and day is worth more than a measly US$85.


1) Set up a fake US region PSN account
2) Run Destiny on your PS3; now the 170mb Compatibility Pack 1 will download properly
3) Allow the pack to install
4) Switch back to your main account and start up Destiny
5) Your mileage may still vary depending on Bungie network issues
6) If you're already in the US and have this issue - sorry, I don't have any answers. You need to bug Sony.


Final Tally?

Bungie: The launch sucked big time, but you get a big thumbs up for making an awesome game I can't wait to play with my friends. I know you're working hard to fix player issues and you have my respect and gratitude for that.

Activision: YOU SUCK. You don't provide any support for your $500 million 10 year game, but instead pass the buck back to Bungie for support. Destiny isn't even listed on your support site! Way to show your commitment to this franchise! Go team!

PSN Taiwan Support: YOU SUCK, because all you did was pass the buck around. You didn't even try to test this issue locally. And I'll tell you now what will probably take you weeks to find out. This "software problem" is actually PSN's (read YOUR) fault.