A SMALL piece of software that will iron out the bugs in a popular multi-player PC game called Hellgate London is causing a furore among its players.
If the 'patch' is installed by Infocomm Asia Holdings (IAH), the operators of the South-east Asia server of the game, it threatens to wipe out the saved games of thousands who have been playing the game since its launch two weeks ago.
The resulting uproar has sent IAH back to the drawing board to find a solution which is not so drastic.
Thousands of irate responses had been posted on IAH's website forums, with many demanding that the company rectify the situation, and some threatening to boycott it.
The backlash has dented the reputation of IAH, which set a milestone for Singapore as the first local company to operate a top-tier multi-player online game.
It has sold 35,000 copies of Hellgate to game distributors here and in South-east Asia. About 7,000 were sold to players here within the first two days of the game's release.
Mr Roland Ong, chief executive officer of IAH, said the problem arose because the South-east Asia game server was launched a day earlier than the ones in the United States.
The game was launched in the US with the patch already installed. The Singapore game was launched first without the patch and IAH did not anticipate it would cause problems later.
It turned out that the patch was incompatible with the saved games.
Yesterday, IAH said it was working round-the-clock with the US developers of the game, Flagship Studios, to resolve the problem.
Mr Bill Roper, chief executive of Flagship Studios, said: 'We have refused to accept a character wipe as a viable solution.'
He said that Flagship's engineers were currently implementing solutions that would not do this.
The new patch is expected to be ready before Nov 22.
IAH had initially offered a 30-day free subscription for gamers affected by the wipe, but gamers felt this could not compare with the hours they had put into the game.
While some gamers welcomed the news of a new solution, many remained sceptical about IAH's ability to deliver.
Software developer Mark Chang, 29, who has also put in over 50 hours of play into the game, was unconvinced: 'I have no more confidence in them. We will just have to wait and see.'