World of Warcraft publisher Blizzard Entertainment this week reportedly said it was discussing the possibility of hosting Australian servers for the popular massively multiplayer online game.
The lack of servers hosted in Australia for the game — also a common problem with a number of other online offerings — means that local players must connect to international servers and suffer extended latency compared with players in those countries, which can disadvantage them in-game and cause slower online reaction times.
“I would say it’s possible and that it’s something we talk about on a regular basis — and I will also say it’s something I have talked about this week,” World of Warcraft production director J. Allen Brack said in an interview with AusGamers publishers this week.
“So it’s definitely just not a case of ‘yeah whatever’. It does get our attention and we do raise it up on a regular basis. If we can make it happen, we’ll make it happen,” he added, noting the Australian WoW community was “super-passionate” about the issue, but it was a question of local timing and expenditure.
The issue primarily affects games which require low ‘ping’ times — indicative of latency — to the servers that users are required to connect to. Good examples would be first-person shooter games, where a handful of millliseconds can mean the difference in an online match between taking out your own target or your online character taking a hit instead.
However, other Blizzard games such as StarCraft II, which is currently in beta testing — with some Australians obtaining early access to the game — are not as highly affected by the issue. Delimiter has been beta testing StarCraft II over the past week and has not experienced any latency difficulties on an ADSL2+ connection.
It’s not hard to find complaints online about poor ping times for WoW in Australia. For example, back in 2007 a gamer named Drunkmunky posted the following online: “I live in Australia and I, like the rest of the country, am forced to play WoW on servers located in America. This results in quite a latency hit that affects nearly every aspect of gameplay.”
Blizzard has set up ‘Oceania’ WoW servers that target Australian WoW players with local time zones, but the servers are still based overseas.
Image credit: Blizzard