It’s been some time since the launch of World of Warcraft Classic’s Wrath of the Lich King pre-patch, an update which saw many of the popular servers, including fresh servers meant to give new and old players a totally green experience, suffering from some serious queue times that made actually jumping in and playing the game incredibly difficult. Now, Blizzard has put out a statement, but the consequences of their actions (or inaction) are starting to be felt.
This statement, released on the Blizzard forums around the time when queues were really horrendous, covers the issue and provides some context for the problem. In terms of solutions, Blizzard halted character creation and transferring to badly-affected mega servers, and locked them down “indefinitely”. This essentially stopped an increased influx of players making the queues worse, which when combined with free transfers off realms has appeared to curb the problem somewhat.
However, even now, certain mega servers still retain large queues, especially once school and work hours come to a close and players return home for some dungeon grinding, or farming honor in continuous Alterac Valley runs. In the aforementioned post, it’s stated that “we need more folks to move”, but that’s unlikely to happen with certain crowds of Classic WoW players — especially on fresh servers.
“Nearly 3 days of play time on this one now… no, I’m not gonna switch. Only when there are character transfers for free.” says Gobloid, a level 61 Priest who has managed to make progress up the levels despite a full time job and wild queue times on Thekal, a currently-locked Classic fresh server. They told me that they had to wait upwards of seven hours when the problem was at its worst, and while they’re able to play early today and dodge the queues thanks to some time off work, the problem remains a threat to their enjoyment. As they’re fresh, they can’t currently make use of the free transfers Blizzard noted as a key fix for the issues right now. However, there are other reasons not to move, even if a free transfer is available.
Some Classic players would have found guilds and friends on certain servers. They may have been the first to get a legendary weapon, or part of a top-tier PvP group. Server pride is a real thing, or maybe one of their favourite streamers has a presence there. It’s a game of chicken, where thousands of people refuse to budge for legitimate reasons.
Gobloid, as well as numerous others, read the official post on the problem and came away with one major frustration: they don’t understand why additional server capacity can’t be added to popular servers, something the forum post states just isn’t possible, and “There’s no technology solution to this. There is no hardware solution to this. This situation will not improve when Wrath of the Lich King Classic launches on September 26th, it will only get worse.”
“It’s bullshit,” says Gobloid to me via in-game whispers. “It is possible, it would probably just cost some money, and Blizz is using WoW Classic as a cash-cow sadly.” They share a view with several Classic players, including member of the WoW community council Mispeled, whose initial scathing forum post is what forced a blue post addressing the issue in the first place.
While obviously Blizzard devs would know best about whether or not server capacity can be increased a lot, scepticism is understandable simply because we’ve seen other MMOs do exactly that. New World bumped up their server capacity at launch following huge queue times, and it’s not like Activision Blizzard is strapped for cash. Unless the servers are built in a unique way which prevents additional capacity to be added, a factor that hasn’t been addressed officially as of yet, then the obvious question becomes: why are the servers like this in the first place?
So what of the future? Well, it’s clear to everyone including the official statement from Blizzard that it will only get worse, especially when the Lich King expansion comes out in earnest and the community is rushing to play new dungeons, fighting in new battlegrounds, and collect new mounts. That being said, the free transfers to certain servers may have lead to additional consequences that’ll affect the population make up of these newfound homes for adventurers worldwide.
“I’m mostly worried that it’ll just become a try-hard realm with all the people not minding [the queues] or using remote desktop to stay logged in,” says Gobloid. “While the new server, Jin’do, will be a casual server.” It’s no secret that those giving in and transferring over will be those with limited time, with jobs and little connection with communities on packed realms. Those who are left are more likely to be hardcore players with certain affections for efficiency and optimal play, while transfer servers may be packed with a disproportionate amount of casual, and ultimately worse players.
We reached out to Blizzard for comment, specifically asking for more information regarding these technical limitations that prevented an increase in server capacity on jammed up realms. In response, I was linked back to the blue post that we’ve touched on numerous times in this article, and the team had “no additional comments at this time”.
So we’re left in this rut, really. Eventually, people will cave and transfer over. New players won’t be able to join, but if we’re being absolutely honest here, the problem won’t disappear anytime soon. As the Lich King expansion looses it’s glimmer of release-day excitement people will naturally drop off, and it looks like only then will players be able to join their chosen server and play with their friends and communities queue free.
For more Classic WoW content, check out our first-hand report of the zombie plague event that tore through the game last week.