Can The WoW Servers Survive The Shattering Cataclysm?

Deathwing

"Peekaboo"

Queues. Downtime. Lag. Slow downloads. Bloodcurdling cries of venom and hatred. All of these things are synonymous with MMO launches, expansion releases and big patches. A lot of us have come to accept this from our MMOs and live with it as an inevitable side affect of the hobby. Today’s a special day though because today (in Europe anyway, yesterday in the States) marked the release of probably Blizzard’s most epic patch, the complete and utter shattering of Azeroth. I’m slightly ashamed to admit that I’m as a giddy as a teenage boy discovering his dad’s secret stash of Playboys but, still, in the back of my mind I can’t help by wonder if Blizzard are going to be able to handle the huge demand that’s posed to pounce on their servers?

The shattering is only the beginning too as Cataclysm comes out in two weeks and considering the amount of media attention it’s getting (I’ve already seen the TV adverts and my wife has already face palmed at my reaction) it’s, without a shadow of a doubt, going to generate a huge amount of interest in WoW again. I know several “real life” friends (I feel kinda weird using that term) who have returned to the game over the past two days or are planning to come back by the 7th December and then there’s the dozens of online friends I know who planning the exact same thing. Will the servers be able to handle all of this or is the exciting rebirth of WoW going to actually mean my personal play experience suffers? I don’t really want to deal with long queues, bad lag or excessive downtime and part of me thinks that I don’t deserve to either.

As an industry MMOs don’t have the best track record for dealing with this sort of stuff and we all remember the huge queues that WoW suffered from at launch so my fears are probably quite justified. Still, deep down, I have high hopes that it’s not going to be an issue for this patch or the coming Cataclysm. After all, if any MMORPG company has the resources, manpower and experience to deal with this it’s got to be Blizzard right?

I also think they’re being very sensible in launching the shattering patch now and Cataclysm in another two weeks. I had always assumed both things would coincide but actually there’s no need for it and it makes perfect sense to distance them a little. This way not only is the influx of returning (and new) players staggered but it also means there’s time to deal with any issues arising from patch 4.0.3a before the expansion hits. I’m sure Sun Tzu has some ancient proverb that directly relates to this tactic but, alas, it alludes me now.

And of course, given how long it’s been since the last WoW expansion and how many years the shattering/Cataclysm has been in development for and how many millions of subscription fees has paid for it, I would’ve bloody well hoped that it all went relatively smoothly. Lets not forget that the more attention WoW is getting and the more hype all of the this generating, the more people there are to potentially disappoint. No pressure or anything, Blizz.

-Gordon

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12 Comments

  1. Kadomi says:

    I played last night, til the wee hours of morning, on the US servers. I was pretty much amazed how stable everything was. Zero lag, zero problems, everything super-stable and pretty tight. I know that some US servers already started having queues because interest is so high, but we had none of that. I am really impressed.

  2. elleseven says:

    “Will the servers be able to handle all of this or is the exciting rebirth of WoW going to actually mean my personal play experience suffers? I don’t really want to deal with long queues,”

    My daughter plays on one of the “happening” US servers. When she logged in there were over 1300 in queue with an estimated 20 min time to get in to play. I can’t imagine what it will be like on Dec 7th. I remember all the cruddy long wait times to log on my low pop server with WotLK.

  3. Russ says:

    Here in the US, the server was up between 5:30 and 6pm eastern time. When I tried to log into Darnassus, everything was fine. However, toons that were parked in Eastern Kingdoms were more stubborn – when I tried to enter Ironforge or SW, I would be kicked off the server.

    There was a second patch of a little over 100MB to download, and I noticed this after my second try-and-fail. So, short break, and then I was able to get in at around 7.

    Other than that and a few bugs here and there, I have had no problems with lag, queues, etc. (and I play on a busy server). It really has been a smooth patch – remarkably so, since the entire world changed. As Kadomi said, “super-stable and pretty tight.” It was really impressive, especially considering some fo the difficulties that I had when 4.0.1 arrived. Lots of people were on, I could tell – I was selling glyphs in bunches, by class, which was pretty sweet. :)

    I hope that things go well for you over in Europe!

  4. Daria says:

    A timely post as I’m reading this while the downloader is patching the game. It seems to be stuck at 7% right now. They offered a free 7 day trial to former subscribers of the game, which is what I’m using. So I’m imagining this is not helping the situation. If the game ever does patch though, I’ll be glad to use that time to at least check out the changes to my once beloved game.

    • Gordon says:

      I was all pre-downloaded so it was OK. Just hope it stays that way for Cataclysm. My bro and some other friends weren’t so lucky though and ended up having to deal with huge downloads before they could play fully :(

  5. Epiny says:

    With Blizzard new patcher that constantly trickle downloads while you play I think the majority of the down load woes will be averted. I would expect a few queues to log in and some increased lag, but such are the pitfalls of every MMO that launches or releases a major expansion.

    Given that the Shattering was an expansion in it’s self I wouldn’t expect next week to be much different then this past week though.

  6. henk says:

    As I espected, cataclysm is out and we stand in qeueu 2500 waiting time: 130mins.
    Tells enough

  7. The Necromancer says:

    It is quite like the usual apocalyptic disaster. You should watch some of the blizzcon 2010 videos for the creation of the cinematic. Awesome

    Reminds me of 2012 but much cooler.

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