When we launched Legion on August 30, we opened up the Broken Isles to millions of players around the world. As with every expansion, there were feelings of excitement among the team in the lead-up, but also a bit of healthy fear and trepidation. We felt we had learned many lessons from the launch of Warlords of Draenor, and we took steps to help ensure we would have a smooth release. But questions remained: Would the updates to our technology and hardware be enough? Had we tested of all our new and existing systems enough? Did we properly account for the masses of players clicking on Khadgar to watch him teleport the city of Dalaran to its new home?
When the floodgates opened and players started their journey to the Broken Isles, it was gratifying to see many of you calling this our smoothest launch yet. We couldn’t be happier with how Legion has begun, and we hope that we’ll be able to continue to deliver a smooth experience throughout the expansion and beyond.
A ton of factors came into play to make this happen, and we wanted to share a few of the design and technological changes we made. First, we took some measures to control the bottlenecks that can occur when many players try to interact with a single quest giver, something that has caused issues in the past. These changes made it so people were able to get into the expansion at a smooth and measured pace before spreading out around the world to claim their Artifacts and choose their first questing zone.
On the tech side, rather than run one copy of Broken Isles per realm, in Legion we run multiple copies to ensure no one map is overloaded or overpopulated. We also have dedicated hardware for each zone, meaning Azsuna has a server, Highmountain has a server, and so on. Many of these decisions were based on painful lessons from Warlords of Draenor.
In Legion we also want to ensure you’re able to play together with people you know, so we keep friends, guilds, and groups together rather than spinning them off into different copies. At launch, this allowed us to keep regions of the world feeling populated without impacting game performance. We gave this tech a test-drive during the recent pre-expansion Demon Invasions: rather than seeing an entire realm’s population in one tightly packed location, you saw a smaller portion, but still enough to make an area feel alive.
How does this all add up? Since launch, players have acquired billions of Artifact Power. More than 5 million Demon Hunters made their way from Mardum to Azeroth to fight against the Legion, and more join the ranks every day. WoW’s concurrency during launch week climbed higher than it’s been in many years, and it’s been awesome to see so many of you having a great time playing together in the Broken Isles.
It’s also been exciting to see players enjoying the new WoW Legion Companion app, which allows players to engage with Legion champions and missions, customize their Order Halls, and explore World Quests all from their iOS or Android mobile device.
But the launch of Legion is just the beginning of the journey. As with many of you, we weren’t happy with Warlords of Draenor’s patch cycle, and have changed our strategy for Legion, prioritizing more regular content releases. As part of that, last week at PAX we announced Patch 7.1: Return to Karazhan, our first major content update, which reintroduces Karazhan as a 5-player Mythic dungeon, continues the Suramar campaign, adds new World Quests, opens up the Trial of Valor Raid dungeon, and more.
The future is bright for Legion and World of Warcraft, and we couldn’t thank all of you in the community more. Your enthusiasm, encouragement, and ongoing feedback all help make WoW what it is today. On behalf of the entire team, thank you for being a part of this journey.
See you on the Broken Isles,
J. Allen Brack
Executive Producer, World of Warcraft