Blizzard gets specific with planned hardware improvements
It seems attention from Cnet and InformationWeek has paid off, and normally tight-lipped World of Warcraft Lead Producer Shane Dabiri goes to pains to list all the hardware changes in store to improve login and in-game performance. Also in the latest "Battle Plan" posted on the WoW official forums: new options for fee-based character transfers across realms and between accounts (but only if the accounts in question are in the same household).
We recently brought a new World of Warcraft site online in North America -- the 5th one in this region. This not only allowed us to open new realms -- each site can hold approximately 40 -- it also allowed us to migrate existing realms over to the new, top-of-the-line hardware we used to build the site. As with previous migrations, this relieved pressure on our shared-database backend infrastructure, resulting in noticeable improvements in loot, auction house, mail, and instance lag and general realm stability for the players who we're moved to the new realms as well those who remained at the original site.
Beyond this 5th World of Warcraft site, we are preparing to bring up a 6th site before the end of May, and we have plans to build additional sites in order to handle any increase in population we experience after the release of The Burning Crusade. All of our future sites will be built using the latest hardware and will give us the capacity to support new players and perform additional migrations and character transfers as needed.
On top of our efforts to evenly disperse our player population through coordinated realm transfers and migrations, we've begun testing our paid character-transfer feature. Scheduled to go live this summer, this feature will allow players to move their characters, within certain restrictions, to a realm of their choosing. This means that player's will now be able to join their friends on other realms without the need to wait for a pre-set mass realm transfer. In addition, this will also contribute to a balancing of the player load from realm to realm, which again is a specific way for us to reduce realm queues and lag. We know that many player's are eager for this service to be implemented, so we'll share further details as soon as more information becomes available.
Battleplan Vol. 3 (at the WoW official forums) is one of the most detailed posts we've seen from the Blizzard crew in the nigh year and a half the blockbuster game's been live. Lots of answers, and more than a few new questions. Hopefully we'll be able to find out more from Blizzard next week at E3.