26th Nov, 2022
It's been a while since World of Warcraft Classics Wrath of the Lich King's pre-patch launched. This update saw many popular servers, including new servers meant to give new and existing players a completely green experience, suffer from severe queue times that made it difficult to jump in and play the game. Blizzard has now issued a statement. But the consequences of their actions or inactions are already being felt.
This statement was posted on the Blizzard forums at a time when queues were extremely bad. It covers the issue and gives some context. Blizzard stopped character creation and transferred characters to the mega-affected mega servers and kept them locked down "indefinitely" as a solution. This effectively stopped an increase in players making the queues worse and also gave away transfers to realms.
Even now, some mega servers still have large queues, especially after school and work hours end and players return home to continue farming honor in Alterac Valley runs. It was stated in the post that "we need more people to move", but this is unlikely to be true for certain groups of Classic WoW players, especially on new servers.
"Nearly three days of playtime on this one now... I'm not switching. Only when character transfers are free." Gobloid, a level 60 Priest, says that despite having a full-time job and long queue times on Thekal (a locked Classic fresh server), he has managed to progress up the levels. They said that they had to wait up to seven hours for the worst problem to resolve. While they are able to play today early and avoid the queues because of their time off work, the problem still threatens their enjoyment. They are still fresh and can't make use of the Blizzard-recommended free transfers. There are other reasons to not move, even if there is a free transfer.
Classic players would have found friends and guilds on certain servers. They might have been the first to obtain a legendary weapon or be part of a high-ranking PvP group. Server pride is real. Maybe one of their favourite streamers is there. It's a game where thousands refuse to move for legitimate reasons.
Gobloid and many others read the official post about the problem. They were frustrated that they couldn't understand why more server capacity couldn't be added on to popular servers. This is despite the forum post stating that it was impossible and that "There's no technology solution." This problem does not have a hardware solution. This situation will not improve with Wrath of the Lich King Classic's launch on September 26th. It will only get worse."
"It's a bullshit," Gobloid tells me via in-game whispers. "It's possible, it would probably only cost some money and Blizz uses WoW Classic as an ATM sadly." They also share this view with several Classic players, such as Mispeled, who was the original poster to the WoW forum that caused Mispeled to post the initial scathing post. This led to Mispeled writing a blue post.
Although Blizzard developers would be the best to answer any questions about server capacity, we understand that skepticism can be justified because we have seen other MMOs do it. After long queue times, New World increased their server capacity. Activision Blizzard doesn't have to be tight on cash. If the servers are not built in a unique manner that prevents additional capacity from being added, something that has not been addressed officially, then the obvious question is: Why are these servers so similar?
What about the future? It's obvious to everyone, including the official statement by Blizzard, that things will only get worse when the Lich King expansion is released. The community is eager to play new dungeons and fight in new battlegrounds and collect new mounts. However, free transfers to certain servers could have had additional consequences that will affect the number of adventurers who live in these newfound homes.
Gobloid says, "I am most worried that it will just become a tryhard realm with all of the people not minding [the queuing] or using remote desktop for logging in." "While the new Jin'do server will be a casual one," it's obvious that those who give in and transfer over will be those with limited time, jobs, and little connection to communities on packed realms. Those who leave are more likely to have an affinity for efficiency and optimal play. Transfer servers may be filled with a large number of casual and worse players.
We reached out to Blizzard asking for comment. We specifically asked for information about the technical limitations that prevented an increase of server capacity on jammed-up realms. I was redirected to the blue post, which we have touched on many times in this article. The team did not offer any additional comments.
We're stuck in this rut. People will eventually give in and move on. Although new players won't have the ability to join, it's likely that this problem will not disappear soon. The Lich King expansion's release-day excitement will fade, and players will no longer be able to access their chosen server to play with their friends or join queues.