September 23, 2009

Piecemeal Patchwork

Another major patch has come for World of Warcraft, and you know what that means (if you play it)... another complete mess. Every single content patch manages to screw something up, break some part of the game, or just overload servers with... something, be it inefficiency or whatever. It's maddening. Basically, it means that the game becomes unplayable for the day of the patch, and that's if you're lucky. More often, it's unplayable for several days.

Am I mad at Blizzard for this process? I think they could do more to prevent it, but I think no matter what, adding large, exciting new content for eleven million people to download and try out in one day (obvious exaggeration, they do the patches on different days for different locations, but anyway) is going to lead to disaster. Blizzard has never much pandered to its fans, they've always thought that the game was far better off in their hands, and it's pretty hard to argue with that, honestly. However, they are quite exceptional at customer service, and though patch day sucks, Blizzard does appreciate that it sucks, and is willing to lend a hand. Couldn't loot an epic item because of bugs or whatever? GMs help you out. Lost an item that you were trying to trade in the overwhelming lag? They'll get it back for you. And just plain couldn't log on at all, because the server was literally offline all day? Usually, when that happens, they'll add another day of service to your account. Customer service is great at Blizz.

So the other patch day consideration, of course, is the coding. Is there something in the delivery process or something that makes patch day such hell? ...No, not really. They don't announce patches, partially because they don't wanna be yelled at for a patch being late, but I think also so that those not in the know won't realize the patch has dropped, and thus won't even experience the patch day torment... or maybe more importantly, by not rushing online, won't contribute to it. They give us patches in bits and pieces through their background downloader, usually before the patch actual goes live, and that too saves on bandwidth.

So really, it looks like Blizzard is doing everything right. Is the suckage of patch day unavoidable, then? I don't feel like this should be the case, but damn if I know how to avoid it. Any ideas?

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