How to fix the oversubscribed servers issue

At this time last week, most Classic servers had queues that prevented many people from playing at all. The server capacity increase dropped the queues on most servers from all evening to perhaps an hour or so, permitting people to play. If these queues persist, they may require further action, but for now they aren’t the most urgent issue.

The most urgent issue is that the biggest servers still have five digit queues that are preventing many people from playing, and populations that will likely cause problems once layering is removed. This issue is hard to fix because people don’t want to switch servers for several reasons:

  • People have names they find acceptable on their current server, and can’t be guaranteed those names on new servers
  • People have invested time into characters on their current servers when they have been lucky enough to get on, and don’t want to start over
  • People are in guilds or planned guilds already, and coordinating a server move of an entire guild takes time and is difficult when some people may consider the current situation acceptable, even if others don’t.

Starting over on a new server with new characters doesn’t really address any of these issues. Even free character transfers only addresses one or two of them.

The queues suggest that the biggest servers likely have more than twice the “medium” population that Blizzard has repeatedly said is larger than “high” population servers in Vanilla. Given that, the best solution is likely to be simply splitting these servers.

Split each of these oversize servers into two - or more, if justified by the numbers - servers. Give people a week to coordinate and decide which server split to go into. Provide some real time feedback on which server people are choosing, so they can make an informed choice about which daughter server to go to. After a week, shut down for long enough to split everyone between the servers as per selections.

  • Everyone is guaranteed their name since the new servers are splits from the original server, with no one else making characters in the meantime.
  • Nobody loses progress since they still have the same characters.
  • A week is provided to coordinate server choices for guilds and friends, which should be sufficient.

If this is announced within the next day or two, there will still be time to split the servers and let people play for a while with lower queues before Classic is a month old. After that point, you start losing subscribers as people who subscribed for Classic don’t renew due to the extreme length of the queues on the oversize servers.

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Triple the layers!

I support the concept.

But it all feels like we’re pissing in the wind with transfer and que talk. Adding more layers is the complete opposite of what we want, and for some reason thats what blizzard decided to do instead of transfers and server splits. Creating an unstable population for phase 2. Unless they truly believe that many players will drop off, they created an insane issue for themselves.

move to a different server.

Looks like Blizzard is going to try to fix this with free character moves:

This could be equivalent to server splitting if each oversized server gets its own destination, so I hope they’ll do it that way. If they permit transfers to any servers, or even transfers from any of the oversized servers to any low pop server, there will be naming collisions as people with the same names from different servers try to transfer to the same destination.

My memory is that free transfers were not that successful in Vanilla, but I could be misremembering. However they do it, I hope it works, and I applaud Blizzard for continuing to try to fix the problems caused by an inadequate number of servers at release.