Robot 6

Free comics promotion brings server woes for comiXology [Updated]


Earlier today Marvel announced at their South by Southwest panel that they would offer more than 700 first issues for free via their comiXology-powered apps on various mobile devices and via their web store. It’s a limited time offer, as the free comics popped up on the comiXology app shortly after the panel ended with plans to only be available through 11 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday, March 12.

In related news, earlier today the comiXology servers crashed. In between messages about the closing party they’re hosting at SXSW, comiXology has taken to Twitter to keep people aware that they’re working on the issue and, it appears, try to lighten the mood somewhat:

From their Twitter feed:

I hit the Marvel app just shortly after the comics became available and had about 150 of them in my download queue before I put my iPad down, but it looks like only about 50 of them actually downloaded. Hopefully comiXology will be able to get things up and running soon.

Update, Monday, 3 p.m. Pacific: Earlier today comiXology CEO David Steinberger posted an update on the situation, announcing they are “pausing” the promotion for the time being but plan to reinstate it at a later date. Also be sure to check out CBR’s additional coverage of the issue, which includes comments from Ron Richards, a former employee who now works for Image, and Monkeybrain’s Allison Baker.



God, talk about pandering to people’s greed!


Larfleeze is happy.

Glad I’m not the only one experiencing problems.

Right, the issues are free tomorrow too… IF your site is back up tomorrow. And in the meantime, what if I want to read my paid-for issues?

Nate, I can tell by your comment you don’t have a Comixology account, because all of my downloaded issues are available (because they were pulled onto my device). I’m reading them right now.

Justice – Nate probably meant he wanted to read comics he had previously paid for, but didn’t currently have on his device. Anything in the comiXology “cloud” was inaccessible as well for most people as I understand. (Certainly happened to me, as well.)

“Justice – Nate probably meant he wanted to read comics he had previously paid for, but didn’t currently have on his device.”

Right, that’s where I am too right now. I want to read the Bendis Moon Knight issues that I bought this week, but I can’t download them due to the crush on Comixology’s servers. It’s annoying. However, I’ll accept the 700 (!) free comics as an apology.

You would think that after the last fiasco Comixology had like this (with free issues), they would have prepared more thoroughly for this. They could have easily rented extra server space for the 3 days of this offer. To have your servers down for an entire day is inexcusable!!!!!!

They (AND MARVEL) should keep this offer open for the rest of the month, or they may find themselves facing a group legal action for false advertising and loss of service.

Right on, Kevin. They should extend the offer. As poorly as Comixology has been performing this weekend, it isn’t the customer’s fault. The site doesn’t work right now, nor do the apps. I tried logging out to see if that would refresh things, and that was a big mistake. Now I can’t access my account at all. This has been a PR disaster for Comixology.

Definitely need to extend to like Friday. They should have known better to put up the offer and the entire server crashes for excess downloading all at once. To top it off my account is screwy right now. Fix Please.

first of all, the 700 1st issue offer isn’t all great.
it’s mostly a first part of a story arc. It’d be better to offer free trades or something. But i guess this is just bait, to get ppl to continue buying the series.

and yeah, they should offer for a week. Not just 2 days.

Stephen Conway

March 10, 2013 at 9:03 pm

Good to see I’m not the only one having trouble with it.

You can “buy” the issues online and then download it later once the servers are working. Everyone trying to download several gigs worth of stuff is what’s causing the server meltdowns, not the offer itself.

They should have an “add all” button to add them to your account.
Then you can read them online or just download a few at a time.

Saying “we never run out” is rather disingenuous in this case, isn’t it?

I had better luck with the Marvel fueled Comixology app, although it took me 12 hours just to get that issue of Point One.

I agree with everyone saying this should have been extended through this Friday at the very least. Next time they do this (which I hope will be soon), I hope Comixology will be better prepared to handle the load.

I wonder how much of this traffic issue is due to people not realizing they can get the comics later. Only the purchase has to happen now. I got all that I wanted via the Comixology app, but didn’t download any of the comics. They won’t go anywhere.

I’m not even able to sign into comixology or the marvel app, how would one be able to “buy” these free issues without signing in?

NO YOU CAN”T ORDER THEM NOW IF THEIR SERVERS ARE DOWN!!!!! If you can’t even get to the app, you can “purchase” the free books, let alone read the ones you’ve already bought!!!! FIX THE PROBLEM NOW COMIXOLOGY!!!! 24 hours straight of server problems is inexcusable!!!!

This situation reminded me about another problem I’ve run into with Comixology before; Befor I knew the servers went down I tried logging off and logging back on just to see if that would clear things up (my entire purchase list was missing). Needless to say I was now stuck because Comixology is set up that you can’t log onto your account unless the site is available. What’s worse is I can’t even read any issues that I’ve already download and are located on my device (IPAD). They show up under ‘my comics’ but if I click on any of them I get the “you don’t have access” message. If the issues are already on my device I should be able to read them without having to be connected.

I understand that people are having their attitudes ramped up over the down time. However, being a network administrator myself I totally sympathize for Comixology. One rarely gets kudos for having a 99.999% up time, but you get lit up for down time even when you are trying something nice. Keep up the good work guys and thanks for the effort. Don’t let a few sore heads turn your attempted good deed into a downer. Some of us appreciate the gesture.

Yes, the big mistake they made was not putting an “add all” button in the app. Everyone who wants all 700 issues is buying AND DOWNLOADING them individually. I don’t want to download them now, I just want them marked as owned by my account so that I have them if I ever want them in the future. Instead it’s trying to download all 700 and killing their servers and I’m sure I’m one of thousands of people doing the same thing. The only place you can add things to your account without it automatically trying to download them is the web interface, which is currently down completely. Thankfully, even with the servers down, it’s marking those issues as owned by my account, even if I can’t download them right now.

The big question is: Will their servers be back to normal by Wednesday when new issues come out. If not, they’re going to be in lots of trouble with DC, IDW, Image and all of the other publishers.

Δημήτρης Αρναούτης-Οικονομάκης

March 11, 2013 at 8:02 am

what time is that in greece?
its not a bad idea although most marvel comics dont interest me
(with the exception of the new dan slott’s superior spiderman which obviously wont be downloaded for free and deadpool)
i am a dc hardcore supporter :p

Nice to see Comixology reminding people it’s only a renting service that can stop working at any time.

Also, there are a lot of stand alone nice titles in this promotion – oldies, annuals, etc. I highly recommend Fraction’s old Thor series of one-shots and Aaron’s Dark Reign one-shot with Marvel Boy, Fantomex and Wolverine.

I think it was a great idea, and so far I’ve had more success getting the free comics than I thought I would (which isn’t to say it’s been great on my end, just better than a total failure). I’m having the same problems that I’m sure everyone else is having, but I have to hand it to Comixology for being daring enough to deal with this massive wave of server chaos in the first place. Maybe these 700 comics should have been offered in waves of 50 or 100 at a time? I’m sure there are woulda/coulda/shoulda scenarios we can all dream up, but I’m willing to wait and enjoy the goods once they have it all worked out. It’s not like I’m losing any money over it, after all. :-)

It is pretty poor when I can’t even login to read stuff I’ve bought previously (and I don’t own an iPad or similar so *need* to be logged in via my browser to read what I’ve already paid for).

Comixology and comic producers will also be losing actual money because even if you wanted to actually buy (as in PAY for) a comic – such as one of the many Marvel ones this promotion is supposed to be encouraging sales of – YOU CAN’T LOGIN!

Do you think DC are going to be pleased by Marvel’s freebie offer affecting their sales? Just sayin’ ;-)

Wow, Kevin up there needs to tone it down.

It sounds like Agent M tweeted about marvel wanting to make sure everyone got to enjoy the promotion, so I’m guessing that means either an extension or the promotion being offered again in the (near) future.

On the plus side, of the few issues I got, they were all Marvel Now! #1’s. :-)

I don’t want “maybes” or “could bes”. I want a definite answer from Marvel & Comixology as to whether they’re going to honor this promotion for longer, or if they really want tons of angry comic fans coming down on them. As for “toning it down”, @Tony, I’m angry at all of these online “experts” that seem to think that everyone else is a total idiot and that we are ALL trying to download on our tablets, smartphones, or iPads. I’m trying to get these into my account so I can read them at a later time/date, so I’m using my browser or the Windows8 app, which works the same way as the browser.

@Sephylus: “However, being a network administrator myself I totally sympathize for Comixology.”

I sympathize with the guys on the ground — the people trying to get the servers back up and, even more, the people answering the phones — but this is a self-inflicted wound. I don’t know if it’s down to the network team for failing to prepare adequately for the demand, or if it’s the fault of management for failing to give the network team the resources they NEEDED to prepare adequately, but somebody in the chain fucked up, and if the worst thing that happens to them as a result is that people on the Internet say mean things about them, then they’re getting off light.

It’s especially embarrassing considering that last week’s tech news was dominated by the story of EA being unable to properly support SimCity because of its online requirement flooding the servers. Do the folks at Comixology not read the news?

Worst of all, though? As always, pirates are unaffected. Pirates can get those #1’s just fine. People attempting to go the legal route get hosed; people who just want to download comics illegally can get them right now (and in a superior, non-DRM-infected format, so that they can read them in the program of their choice).

It bears adding that, independent of whether it’s used for piracy or for legitimate purposes, the BitTorrent protocol is by the very nature of its design immune to this sort of outage — indeed, the higher the demand for a file, the FASTER the download. If media companies were savvier, they would leverage the power of peer-to-peer services to get around the limitations of the client-server model — but of course, try explaining that to a pointy-headed boss who thinks “BitTorrent” is synonymous with “piracy”.

I had problems right away and gave up but I remain hopeful that Comixology will eventually resolve whatever problems they have. One my big wishes for 2013 is that Marvel make it’s digital library available for those of us who would like to read them on our devices that aren’t compatible with flash video. For the life of me I’ve never been able to read anything for long periods on a desktop computer.

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