Any World of Warcraft player who has been battling in Azeroth for at least two years knows how Blizzard expansion launches usually go. The team does its best to prepare, but come midnight on launch day, servers around the world start crashing and players take to the internet to vent. It never fails that some portion of the audience is optimistic enough to call off of work in advance in hopes of spending the day with the new content, but instead they end up staring at Server Locked messages and waiting for hours (or days) for issues to be resolved. After last week's Warlords of Draenor launch, even Blizzard went to the forums to talk about the problems...
Warlords went online Thursday at midnight and although many players were able to reliably log in to the game by Saturday afternoon, some high population servers had problems throughout the entire launch weekend. After subscriptions started to climb this summer and fall in anticipation of the new expansion and WoW's 10-year anniversary, Blizzard began developing a strategy for what would likely be a fairly massive launch. Despite pre-loading the game's content with the help of the Battle.net desktop application, the game's servers still weren't prepared for the millions of players looking to visit Draenor over the weekend.
WoW executive producer, J. Allen Brack, took to the official forums this afternoon to apologize and offer players an explanation and a consolation prize for the in-game time they lost this weekend...
"The first two days of the expansion were not a great experience, with many of you facing high queues or significant gameplay problems. We worked around the clock to tackle the demand issues and technical challenges, and fortunately things started looking better on Saturday. While millions of you were able to get in and play over the weekend, with many already reaching level 100, others still ran into very lengthy queues, particularly on the highest-population realms.
"In recognition of the difficulties so many of you ran into when trying to play over the first few days, we're adding five days’ worth of extra time to every subscription in the Americas, Oceania, and Europe that was active as of Friday, November 14."
Brack went on to explain that in order to avoid the problem going forward, the team has expanded the new instancing tech used to improve the queues this weekend and the realm capacity is going to be raised again. The change should double the pre-launch capacity of each realm, which will significantly drop queue times.
Although it is impossible to give players back the time that they lost in the game during launch, the five day subscription extension isn't a bad peace offering. We would love to see the team offer something more tangible like a unique "I survived the Warlords launch" battle pet or a new Hearthstone card back; but additional days of play is probably the options that will have the most universal appeal.
As expected, reactions to the apology on the forums are mixed. Many users are very thankful for the apology, more so than the game time, but it seems like this group was over the launch drama already, anyway. Others complain that the apology and game time extension is 'too little, too late.'
Although Warlords is still experiencing some bugs and minor issues, particularly with the new Garrisons, most of the major issues have been resolved at this point. Queue times are much more manageable this week and as the capacity is increased and the new expansion hype dies down, things should be back to normal in Azeroth in no time.
Do you think Blizzard's apology and subscription extension is enough to make up for the time that players were unable to log in? What else should the company have offered? Let us know in the comments.
Follow Denny on Twitter @The_DFC.