World of Warcraft's fifth expansion -- Warlords of Draenor -- has proved massively popular with players, so much so that Blizzard's servers have been struggling under the strain. And, to cap it all off is news that should surprise precisely no one: the game's North American servers have been hit with a distributed denial of service attack, Blizzard has confirmed.
"Europe was our first region to launch, and we encountered a few issues due to the sheer number of players attempting to enter Draenor from a single location. We worked to add multiple new ways to access Draenor, and this helped ease some of the initial rush into the new expansion as players were able to access it from their capital cities, as well as from the shrines in Pandaria," Blizzard community manager Bashiok said on the WoW forum.
"While that solution helped a ton for our North American launch, we ran into a few other issues, including a distributed denial of service attack, that resulted in increased latency."
In order to cope with server load, Blizzard lowered the maximum number of players allowed on each server, which resulted in increased wait times to enter the game. Players were queuing for hours, a situation that caused WoW subreddit moderator nitesmoke to shut the subreddit down in protest and a rash of angry one-star reviews of the expansion on Amazon.
Blizzard eventually recovered from the DDoS and patched several issues, including instance servers timing out, disconnection issues and garrison server issues. However, while the maximum server population was raised again and servers stabilised, heavily populated realms are still experiencing long queues.
"To address the queues for these realms we are currently working on expanding the instancing tech we deployed earlier which allowed for additional copies of Draenor. We are currently testing these improvements with the goal of deploying this tech more widely," community manager Naethera wrote. "To ensure the best possible in-game experience for players this implementation will require additional oversight and testing. We will be carefully scrutinising and adjusting these modifications throughout the day to ensure that we don't introduce additional stability and performance issues."
Responsibility for the DDoS has been claimed by a member of DerpTrolling, a group that has attacked Blizzard's servers many times in past as a form of protest against what it sees as the company's greed at the expense of players.
Players can keep an eye on the WoW forums for further updates as they become available.