After 10 years, fans had assumed it would just never happen. But last night Blizzard shocked Australian fans with the surprise announcement that Australian World of Warcraft servers are set to go live October 28 in advance of the new expansion, Warlords of Draenor, which launches November 13.
World of Warcraft is the world's biggest MMORPG, or massively multiplayer online roleplaying game. It's a monthly subscription service that peaked at 12 million subscribers but still hosts an incredible 7.4 million active subscribers. World of Warcraft is in a league of its own in the world of MMORPGs.
A decade ago, Australian players first joined the game via North American servers. Later, Blizzard launched Oceanic servers set to follow Australian time zones, but the servers themselves were still located on the west coast of North America.
With this announcement, Blizzard is transferring the Oceanic servers to an Australian hosting location. It will also allow Australians who have used some of those old de facto servers the chance to make a free character transfer to the new local servers for a limited time. The Oceanic servers will transfer during an extended server maintenance next Tuesday night, going live October 28.
"Better late than never, ultimately," says Ion Hazzikostas, lead game designer on World of Warcraft, who visited Australia as part of prelaunch festivities for Warlords of Draenor. "We know we have a lot of passionate players here and it's something we've wanted to do for a long time. There are a lot of complexities and logistics that have gone into it to make sure that we're doing it right. So finally the stars have aligned and we're just happy to be able to roll out the feature now."
Local servers ultimately lead to a faster, smoother gameplay experience, which Hazzikostas says will benefit every player of the game, not just the hardcore raiders and PvPers.
"Playing the game with 40ms latency versus 300ms latency is just a better experience no matter what you're doing," Hazzikostas told CNET. "Except maybe pet battles."
Blizzard has offered a detailed FAQ about the Australian server announcement on its forums.