We've been informed that Blizzard, after almost 10 years, is finally creating local Australian servers for World of Warcraft.
The news was formally announced at a Blizzard event in Sydney this evening.
We spoke to Ion Hazzikostas and asked the obvious question: why now?
"Because we could make it happen, it's something we've been wanting to do for a long time, since the game first launched," There was just a lot of complex logistics behind it all. But we finally made it all work, we dealt with those issues and we feel like we can finally do it in the right way for our players. It's great to be able to make the announcement and do the right thing by the fans."
We'll have more details on the whens and hows of the new local servers soon.
UPDATE: Blizzard has released a full Q&A regarding the servers, which you can read in full below.
World of Warcraft ANZ server FAQ Q: What benefits will local game servers have for Australian and New Zealand World of Warcraft players? A: The introduction of World of Warcraft game servers hosted in Australia, which will support the Oceanic realms, should provide local Australian and New Zealand players with reduced latency, which should provide an improved gameplay experience as a result.
Q: Where will the servers be physically located? A: The game servers will be hosted within an Australian data centre, ensuring Australian and New Zealand players receive the best possible latency.
Q: Will I still be able to play with my friends who are on U.S. servers? A: Yes! Because the new Australian World of Warcraft game servers will continue to communicate with the existing North American hardware, players will still be able to play with friends on U.S game servers, just as they can today. They’ll still be able to use their Battle.net friends list to easily group up and chat, regardless of where they are playing.
Q: Will the new game servers have any impact on my current characters? A: No! Because the local World of Warcraft game servers will replace the existing U.S.-based hardware which currently hosts the Oceanic realms, all individual characters, gold, and guilds already on an Oceanic realm will be unaffected. The introduction of Australian game servers will be completely invisible to players in the region, with the immediate benefit of providing greatly reduced latency; resulting in a smoother, more responsive gameplay experience.
Q: When will local game servers be available? A: We’re aiming to have the new local World of Warcraft game servers available ahead of the release of the upcoming expansion, Warlords of Draenor, which will go on sale in Australia and New Zealand on November 13, 2014. An extended maintenance to the current Oceanic realms will be required in order to migrate player data to the new hardware. Servers will be taken offline on Tuesday October 28 with normal scheduled maintenance and we will have the new game servers online as soon as possible.
Q: Will the new local game servers only be available to players who purchase World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor, or will they also work for players without the expansion? A: While we’re excited for players to take on the Iron Horde and help repel the invasion of Azeroth in World of Warcraft’s next expansion, Warlords of Draenor, all players will be able to take advantage of the introduction of the new local game servers straight away. Optional character transfers will be made available for a limited time for those players who wish to play on the new Australian game servers, but who are not currently part of an Oceanic realm.
Q: How will the character transfer process work? A: Once the new regional hardware comes online, players who are already on an Oceanic realm will not be required to take any action to move to an Australian server. Players who are currently on a North American realm will be offered a two-week window to transfer their characters to one of the existing Oceanic realms. While players will be required to purchase a paid Character Transfer service for each character they wish to relocate, full refunds for each toon moved will be automatically processed and returned within 72 hours. Free transfers will begin from 6:01PM AEDT Oct 29, 2014 and end at 6:59PM AEDT Nov 13, 2014. Players will still be able to transfer characters to Oceanic realms after this time, but associated server transfer costs will not be reimbursed. Please note that while Character Transfers and Guild Master Realm Transfers will be offered without charge, bundling additional services, such as a Faction Change to a Character Transfer or Guild Master Realm Transfer will mean the bundle is no longer eligible for refund. To ensure the cost of your Character Transfer service is returned, first move your character to an Oceanic realm and then initiate a separate faction, race or name change as desired.
Q: Will I still be able to do cross-realm dungeons and raids with my friends who stay on North American servers? A: Yes, players will still be able to group up and tackle dungeons, raids, Challenge Modes, and other instanced content by inviting people from their Battle.net friends list. Please note that Mythic raids in all global territories will not offer cross-realm functionality until later in the expansion.
Q: Will I have to wait longer when attempting to find dungeons, raids and PvP? A: When using “Looking For Raid” and “Looking For Dungeon”, players on Oceanic realms will remain in the same pools as players from North American realms, which should result in minimal changes to current wait times. For PvP, the game will first try to match players on Oceanic realms for Unrated Battlegrounds with other players from their battlegroup. If successful, these groups should be placed on Australian servers. If two teams from within the battlegroup cannot be found, the groups are then made from the broader player pool and are likely to be placed on game servers located on the U.S. West Coast. For Arena teams and Rated Battlegrounds, Oceanic versus Oceanic matches should take place on Australian servers. Oceanic versus North American matches may take place on servers located on the U.S. West Coast. Whether a team is designated Oceanic or North American is determined by the group leader’s realm.
Q: Latency doesn’t bother me, can I stay with my friends and my current guild on a North American server? A: Absolutely. While the current Oceanic realms – Barthilas, Frostmourne, Thaurissan, Saurfang, Caelestrasz, Jubei'Thos, Khaz'goroth, Aman'Thul, Nagrand, Dath'Remar, Dreadmaul, and Gundrak – should switch seamlessly to the improved latency offered by the new local game servers, players who currently have characters on North American realms can take advantage of optional, free character transfers. While no players will be required to move off their current realm, Australian and New Zealand players who opt not to play on Oceanic realms will not receive the same latency benefits as those on regional game servers hosted in the ANZ data centre. Please note that due to its high player population, Frostmourne will not be an eligible transfer destination. Players currently on Frostmourne will be able to initiate optional, free character transfers to other Oceanic realms at no cost if they wish to relocate.
Q: Will local game servers change the way I activate World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor at launch, or any other Blizzard Entertainment games? A: No. The introduction of local game servers for World of Warcraft will have no impact on the way players activate physical copies of Blizzard Entertainment games, or the unlock timing or process for digital copies of Warlords of Draenor. While local game servers should provide improved latency, game activation and authentication will continue to be handled by the North American Battle.net servers. Players in Australia and New Zealand will be able to begin their adventures in Draenor from 7 p.m. AEDT on launch day, November 13, 2014.
Q: Does this mean other Blizzard games will also be getting local servers? A: While we don’t have any other server-related plans to announce at this time, we are committed to providing all of our players around the world with the best possible experiences. Earlier this year we introduced local game servers to support Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, while Technical Alpha testers of our upcoming team brawler, Heroes of the Storm are already taking advantage of dedicated local infrastructure.