Although we praised Blizzard last week for its meticulous preparation in anticipation of the Warlords of Dreanor launch, we may have been a bit too optimistic. Some players were able to log in and play without interruption for the entire launch day (the most hardcore even hit level 100 already), but plenty of others have been cast out to the sidelines by Server Locked messages or never-ending queues.
As is always the case with a rocky game launch, users took to the internet to vent their frustrations. Unfortunately, one of the major fansites for WoW was also offline last week...
Although World of Warcraft has no shortage of fansites, the WoW subreddit is without a doubt one of the most popular. The site pulls in over a million hits a day and has more than 190,000 subscribers. All of those readers were left in the dark over the weekend when the top moderator switched to offline mode in an attempt to send a message to Blizzard. The subreddit's owner, Nitesmoke, explained that the site would come back online when he was able to log in to the game again.
The attempt at consumer advocacy and protest left Reddit users very unhappy and it didn't take long for Nitesmoke to begin receiving a barrage of complaints and insults on Twitter. Nitesmoke's tweets explaining his protest have all been deleted, but this was his original explanation for the blackout...
"It will be back the moment I am able to log into WoW. That is the fact of the matter and everyone's opinion on me is irrelevent"
After suffering through another experience like the rocky launch of Diablo 3, Nitesmoke felt he needed to 'send a message' to Blizzard (and for those who didn't attempt to play WoW last week or this weekend, we can confirm that the problems were certainly real). While attempting to play the game for review, we weren't able to consistently login to any server before late Saturday afternoon. Although the frustration is justified, many members of the community did not agree with Nitesmoke's reaction.
As an alternative to r/WoW, some of the community migrated to a new subreddit, r/realWoW. One of Blizzard's community managers, Jonathan Brown, reached out to Nitesmoke on Twitter to express his disapproval...
At this point, r/WoW is back online under new management. The 'Welcome Back!' post explained that Nitesmoke made a mistake and that the community should move on. The new mod, 'aphoenix', pleaded with the community to stop trying to get back at the former top moderator.
"Yesterday /r/wow went private for a small amount of time. Nitesmoke, the previous moderator, was angry at a variety of issues and took /r/wow offline.Nitesmoke made a mistake. It was a big one. I'm going to simply ask that you stop trying to get back at him. It's over; he's not on the moderation team here.Nobody here is on board with how he handled the situation. We will not handle the situation in the same way. Nitesmoke has apologized (to me, and through me, to you), and I apologize as well."
Nitesmoke didn't break any rules, but this drama has lots of Reddit users thinking about the power that the top moderator of a subreddit has. Hopefully, the new leadership at r/WoW is responsible enough to avoid future blackouts that could leave the community in the dark.
After so many expansion launches, many Blizzard users have come to expect nonstop problems during the first few days. It is obviously upsetting to not have the chance to play a game right after buying it, but we know from experience at this point not to call off work on the day of a Blizzard release with the hopes of playing it all day. Stability has gotten better with the help of server rebalancing and pre-installations, but the powerhouse developer hasn't quite found a way to support the demand of seven million users on launch days just yet.
Did you experience frustration trying to play Warlords of Draenor this weekend? Do you think Nitesmoke went too far by taking the subreddit offline? Let us know in the comments.
Follow Denny on Twitter @The_DFC.