With the next World of Warcraft expansion Warlords of Draenor on the horizon many people are jumping back into WoW, gearing up and getting ready to for their next fix. I’m one of those people.
I’ve played WoW on and off for a few years now, starting shortly after Wrath of the Lich King was released. I’ve never really taken the game too seriously and it’s more of a casual game for me that I enjoy playing because I’ve got quite a few friends all on the same realm. That said, ever since I started playing the game I’ve been bothered with the lack of Oceanic realms and confused as to why Australia is getting the shaft when there seems to be a very large WoW population here and demand for Australian servers.
Sure, there are some “Oceanic” realms, but they’re really only Oceanic by name only. They’re hosted in the USA and the only real difference is that they’ve changed the realm time to Sydney time to make it easier to organise raids and other groups. Australian players (which seem to dominate the Oceanic realm population) have to put up with ridiculous pings of around 200ms while the few American players that choose to play on the Oceanic realms have a strong advantage with around 50ms.
For a lot of the PvE content the high latency is just a slight annoyance, but for PvP, especially arena, the latency is game breaking. Sure, you can get a good arena rating playing on 200ms but beating a team with the exact same skill as you becomes impossible when every single action and reaction they do is faster than yours simply because they live closer to the servers. Good luck successfully interrupting short casts on your Rogue when the spell has already been cast server side before it even appears in your client.
In my opinion the worst thing of all is the server maintenances. Every fortnight the servers go down for maintenance which lasts about 6 hours or so. For the American players it’s not much of a problem since they tend to go down around 3am and come back online around 10am. The vast majority of their player base are obviously sleeping at this time with work/school the next day. Some American players probably wouldn’t even realise the game did go down if it wasn’t advertised.
For Australian players however this is bang on peak hour gaming time. You’ve just finished work, you get home and you’d love to get a few hours of WoW in before going to bed. Unfortunately the servers go down around 7pm and won’t be coming back on until the early hours of the morning. For any gamers that work full time jobs this basically means they simply can’t play 1/14 days; although keep in mind some people have other responsibilities and commitments that can make that quite frustrating if Tuesday nights are one of the few nights they get some free time to play games…
In the grand scheme of things not being able to play a game once a fortnight isn’t the worst thing in the world, but I still think it sucks that a product I pay a premium for isn’t available at the regular hours I should expect it to be.
Looking at forum posts on Battle.Net you can see Australian and New Zealand players constantly complaining about the lag and maintenance hours on the forums with no firm answers in sight. There’s a few: “We’re looking into this” and “We’re aware of this”, and that’s about as much information as they will provide. 10 years later Blizzard still haven’t given any indication that they plan on releasing proper Oceanic realms. It feels like a bit of a slap in the face when EA managed to have Australian servers ready for the release of Star Wars: The Old Republic – A brand new IP.
Riot released Oceanic servers hosted in Australia for League of Legends, a free to play game supported by micro-transactions. It doesn’t make any sense that Riot could afford to do this but Blizzard can’t. WoW isn’t a cheap game and it doesn’t have a small community. The base game, each of the 4 expansions, the subscriptions and then other services on top of that such as Character Boosts, Transfers, Pets, etc, it all adds up very quickly – Not to mention they’ve also got money flowing in from their other titles like Diablo III and Starcraft 2. I’ve easily spent about 5X’s more money on WoW than I have on LoL and Riot is currently offering me a better service for a game I could have chosen to spend no money on at all.
Trust me when I say: The difference between playing on 200ms ping and 30ms ping in LoL is incredible. I could never go back to playing on American servers after playing on Australian servers. Everything feels more responsive and more fluid. This results in playing better and most importantly the game feels more fun to play!
Come on Blizzard, it’s time to step your game up. Give us Oceanic Realms for Warlords of Draenor. You owe it to your loyal players that have been playing WoW since 2004 as well as all the Oceanic gamers that expect Blizzard to mean quality.
Blizzard recently announced dedicated servers in Australia for Diablo 3 so perhaps there is some hope that they’re finally listening…