'WoW Classic': Blizzard Severely Underestimated Player Demand, Evidence Shows

Users are lining up to finish quests.

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World of Warcraft Classic launched Monday, and tens of thousands of players worldwide have flooded the game’s servers. Gamers on the WoW Classic Discord and subreddit have reported grueling queue times, as long as nine hours, just to play the game. To make matters worse, once players got into certain servers, the waiting wasn’t over. Many complained they even had to wait in line again in order to finish certain quests.

WoW fans shared dozens of screenshots Monday and Tuesday showing winding lines of players waiting for their turn to kill a specific monster or to complete quests. No matter what faction or race users chose, a vast majority of starting zones were overrun. [Polygon] reports (https://www.polygon.com/2019/8/27/20835144/world-of-warcraft-classics-launch-server-queue-orc-tauren-human-dwarf-lag-quests-race-horde-alliance) its possible to dodge these lines by choosing a less popular race, like Taurens. Nevertheless, the outlet described the first few hours of WoW Classic as a “laggy, but playable, mess.”

WoW Classic’s traffic jam can partially be explained by Blizzard’s expectation that the game’s popularity will wane as time goes on. Game Director Ion Hazzikostas told Forbes Monday he expects a “steep drop-off” from day-one interest, which is why Blizzard doesn’t want to add any more servers to the 56 already up and running globally.

“We are opening this world up to millions of people, many of whom are just going to want to check it out as a matter of curiosity,” Hazzikostas explained. “There are others who’ve been waiting for this clearly for years and they are in, as in as can be, but they’re all going to be there contending for the same server space on day one.”

Blizzard did not immediately respond to Inverse’s request for comment on the reported wait times.

Rather than simply add more servers, Blizzard has opted for a serve congestion solution known as “layering.” This strategy involves running multiple copies of the game under one server and dispersing players throughout those “layers” in an attempt to avoid overcrowded quest zones. That clearly hasn’t been effective right out of the gate, but Hazzikostas believes layering will be a better long-term solution.

He claims adding more servers would lead to certain realms being completely desolate after a while. Those relatively empty servers would then need to be consolidated with others to boost the population, which Hazzikostas said would be more disruptive than long queues and quest lines at launch.

“Down the line [that would leave us with] underpopulated servers that we have to start looking at merging or offering transfers from them to other servers to get back down in population,” he explained. “That’s tremendously disruptive to communities and something we really, really, really want to avoid.”

If Blizzard’s estimates are correct, the mosh pit of new players flooding WoW Classic should ease up in the coming weeks and months. Several Discord users have noted servers tend to clear out in the wee hours of the night.

The true test will come this weekend, when many more potential players will be off work and looking to take a nostalgia trip through Azeroth.