After a long bit of extended maintenance last night for patch 3.3, and after fighting with add-ons and general instability, many players were greeted with a familiar and disappointing message from sever.
Heads exploded, babies cried, and anarchy ensued as people once again saw this dreaded error. We've been told for months that the cross-server instances and other solutions were supposed to fix this, that they would be the salvation to all our problems.Additional instances cannot be launched, please try again later.
Not so. At least, not yet.
We are told by our sources that the central problem likely lies in there being too many players attempting to run instances. Before, if you had a server-wide instance capacity of say 1,000 instances open at any one time, you now have a battlegroup-wide instance capacity of over 10,000 instances open at any one time (just making these numbers up for the sake of argument here).
Last night, in the rush to try out the new dungeon finder and cross-server mechanics, the battlegroup-wide instance capacity was reached and destroyed in a blink of an eye. You had literally tens of thousands of people running instances in each battlegroup, entirely overwhelming the system.
Because most of the intense interest was due to the newness of the system, we expect – and indeed we're told some within Blizzard expect – the problem to go away by itself. In fact, if you log on during the day you can see that the problem is non-existent. There's no sign of the additional instances error.
But, this is still a mess, and likely will continue during prime playing time for the immediate future. So what does Blizzard need to do to solve this? There are two primary areas focus needs to be put in.
First, the instance capacity needs to be increased. If we're seeing this now, on a patch day, imagine what it's going to be like when Cataclysm hits and everyone of every level of gameplay will be running instances. The game will not be enjoyable for large swaths of the player base if they can't run dungeons, and that's a risk Blizzard probably shouldn't take given alternative games on the horizon.
Secondly, Blizzard PR and Community Managers need to start getting the word out about this now. There is something almost psychologically defeating about seeing this error pop up again after we were told for so long that it was going away. PR and Community need to begin an immediate and massive campaign laying out the issue, what's being done to fix it, and how long the fix might take. They don't need to give a date, but saying something like "in the coming weeks we'll begin expanding instance capacity again" would be a very good thing. Just letting the entire playerbase know they're doing something is exponentially better than what they're doing now (which is just a few blue posts buried amongst tons of others from the past few days).
This is another case of Blizzard being a victim of its own success, but it's still not excusable for these errors to be happening after we were told this very patch was the solution. And in light of these problems, not having any official communication on the matter makes it worse.
WoW.com will be sure to bring you anything else we learn about this problem. In the mean time, just keep trying to enter the instance... it will eventually work.
Patch 3.3 is the last major patch of Wrath of the Lich King. With the new Icecrown Citadel 5-man dungeons and 10/25-man raid arriving soon, patch 3.3 will deal the final blow to Arthas. WoW.com's Guide to Patch 3.3 will keep you updated with all the latest patch news.