Over the last few weeks, we’ve observed an unprecedented event in World of Warcraft: an unserviceable number of Burning Crusade Classic players have continuously attempted to play on a single realm.
This has always been possible, of course. At any time over the last 17 years, players in a region could have collectively decided to create characters on a single realm and then all attempted to play on that realm. All realms have a cap on concurrent players (this is configured to be the same number on all realms), and if that many players are in-game on the realm, additional players who come along are placed into a queue. The queue itself also has a cap, and if even more players than that attempt to log into the realm, they are denied access entirely.
By the measurement of its daily total number of players logged-in, Firemaw is the largest realm in the world. To give that some context, the 24th largest realm in the world (Benediction-US) has about 67% as many daily players as Firemaw does.
The reason we’ve never seen such a large population on a realm for more than a few days is something we call “queue pressure”. The game is much more fun if you’re actually playing it, even on a smaller realm, so in the past, players have always eventually chosen to move to other realms. For quite some time, free character transfers have been available from the Firemaw realm. Any player with characters on Firemaw can move to the following realms for free:
As always, we encourage players on Firemaw to alleviate the population issue by transferring to one of those realms.
It’s worth mentioning that the subject of layering is not related to this issue. Layers are automatically created or collapsed based on the number of players who are outside of instanced content, and the layering configuration is exactly the same on all WoW Classic realms. Lately, Firemaw has consistently needed 4 layers to accommodate all players who are not in instanced content. Smaller realms have fewer layers, but this is related to the number of players congregating outside instances, not the total number of concurrent players the realm can serve. Adding more layers would not increase the total number of players allowed on a realm at the same time. That maximum is bounded by the limitations of hardware.
We’re currently evaluating all realms’ populations and the necessity for more or different free character transfers. We’ll let you know as soon as we determine whether we need to take additional steps there.