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How Not to Launch an Expansion: A Guide by Blizzard

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At 3am November 13, Warlords of Draenor opened the floodgates.

Players poured onto the servers just as they had done several expansions ago, gathering friends and settling down for a late night. Many stuck around for a long session of gaming, but for some of us, it was a first look, to be experienced later on.

Unfortunately, the hamsters that run Blizzard’s servers weren’t exactly fed their proper rations. Tell, us, Blizzard, how do you still not know how to launch an expansion after five expansions?

I may have made the grave error of choosing one of the highest populated servers in the game, but the launch hasn’t been a walk in the park for anyone. Unless your server is dead to the point of kicking its legs in the air in agony, you can expect to be in queue for 10 minutes to 24 hours.

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96 minutes? You said that nine hours ago!

Along with the obvious issues of higher population realms attempting to handle millions of players at once, Blizzard also had to contend with a monstrous amount of lag, which made it nigh impossible to play at certain points. The Dark Portal, previously a taxi service for anyone looking to escape from the Blasted Lands, looks more like a mount menagerie as everyone waits for the intro cinematic for the new quests.

“We’re continuing to work toward greater realm stability and address the service issues impacting latency,” Blizzard explained in an update about four hours after launch. “Our current biggest hurdle is the concentration of players in specific areas and zones, and an unexpected effect of that concentration on the realm stability.”

Additionally, players were also treated to the antics of trolls, suffering server disconnects and crashes as a result of people intentionally trying to overload the server. While it isn’t clear as to whether or not they’ve all been taken care of, servers are still crashing due to overloads and forcing players to remain stuck at the ‘Connected’ screen, even for realms with low populations. The company was forced to lower the population cap on some realms to deal with the heavy load of players.

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Although we’re pretty much used to rocky WoW launches, this one might be one of Blizzard’s worst to date. Many believe that it’s a bit inexcusable that the game’s been out this long and still deals with large-scale launch disasters.

Blizzard has since announced a 5am Friday maintenance period to deal with the server issues, hopefully reducing the insanely long queue times. With luck, we’ll all soon be able to enjoy the expansion without having to wait five hours at a time to log in.

About Deborah Crocker

Deborah is a 22 year old semi-hermit currently plodding through her senior year of college and getting her feet wet in game journalism. She has a somewhat unhealthy obsession with high fantasy, video games, novels, and Elder Scrolls. When she's not in front of a screen, she enjoys singing and a bit of beading. She's also currently on the hunt for the restaurant with the best cheeseburger.

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