Friday, January 05, 2007
Burning Crusade queue prediction
I was playing on US servers before the European servers opened up, so I have a cancelled US account. Due to this I just received a mail from Blizzard stating: "Blizzard Entertainment proudly invites you to return to the World of Warcraft on January 16th and journey beyond the Dark Portal, where an infinity of new experiences await you. Given the high volume of returning subscribers we expect when The Burning Crusade™ expansion goes live, if you are planning a return to Azeroth, we recommend reactivating your account as soon as possible in order to avoid the expected rush of launch-day activations."
So Blizzard expects the same thing that I mentioned before, a large number of "returning subscribers", and an overloaded account management server. But how is that going to affect existing subscribers? My prediction is long waiting queues on logon, depending on the age of your server.
I did a Google search to try to find how many copies of World of Warcraft were sold, but couldn't get any numbers. Blizzard is only ever talking about their 7.5 million current subscribers, and never about the total number of copies sold. Because if you knew how many millions bought WoW and you know how many are playing, you also know how many people quit World of Warcraft. And after over 2 years there must be millions of people having quit the game already. And there is a strong chance for them to resubscribe for the expansion, especially if the reason they left was that they got bored of the previous level 60 end-game.
The problem is that the resubscribers won't be evenly distributed over all servers. They will want to continue their old characters on their old servers. Even if they want to play a new draenei or blood elf, they will want to do so on their old server, so they can send money and items from their old characters to the new one. And obviously a 2-year old server has a lot more of quitters a.k.a. potential resubscribers than a server that just opened 3 months ago.
Pulling some hypothetical numbers out of my hat, lets say that the average player plays World of Warcraft for one year. That means every year there are as many people quitting a server as there are playing on it. Now lets say half of the people who quit do resubscribe on the 16th. That would result in the population of a 2-year old server doubling, and the population of a 1-year old server going up by 50%. A brand new server has no resubscribers at all. Meanwhile Blizzard is increasing server capacities by 25% for all servers. Which means the new servers have more than enough capacity, but the capacity increase is not sufficient for the original servers.
As my "main" undead priest is on such an original European server, there is a high chance that I will experience long waiting queues in January and February. After some time some people will give up and move to a less populated server. Or they will discover that the Burning Crusade didn't solve the issues they had with WoW when they quit in the first place, and quit again. If I wasn't in a guild, I would consider doing a paid character transfer to a very new server now, and avoid the queues. But I prefer to stay with my guild. If the queues get too bad on my old server, I can still play the level 60 human priest I made on a younger server.