What It Takes To Keep World of Warcraft Running

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What It Takes To Keep World of Warcraft Running

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Keeping a game as popular and as large in scale as World of Warcraft operational is no easy task, and Blizzard has revealed the absolutely staggering numbers to prove it.

You want numbers? Blizzard's got numbers. Frank Pearce and J. Allen Brack of the WoW team revealed a whole lot of them at their keynote on the "operational complexities of running a large-scale MMO" at the Austin Game Developers Conference. Next time you want to complain about your server being down for maintenance or a single tooltip being bugged, you might want to consider these figures and just be thankful this game even exists as it does.

There are 5.5 million lines of code in WoW maintained by an extensive team of programmers. Meanwhile, 51 artists handle 1.5 million unique assets in the game, meaning your weapons, armor, environments, animations, dungeons, everything you see and "touch" in WoW, pretty much. And then you've got 37 designers who are working on how the game plays and managing the more than 70,000 spells in the game. And you only use three of them. For shame.

Moving on, there's the QA team which consists of 218 people. These guys have one of the toughest jobs in the office, because WoW keeps getting bigger while their team stays the same size. The game has taken on thousands more quests worth of content since its halcyon days, meaning there's more and more to do all the time.

Now as for simply keeping WoW online, well there are 68 people working in data centers all over the world. They're maintaining 13,250 server blades which require 75,000 CPU cores to keep the game up.

On top of that there are the folks working in Blizzard's international offices, the cinematics teams, the Battle.net staff, marketing, creative development (the loremasters), and your expected IT, legal, HR, etc departments you'd find at any business.

All in all, the game uses 20,000 computer systems, 1.3 petabytes of storage and 4600 people to stay up and running. Really, there's more to keeping WoW alive than nerfs and buffs. "The moral of the story is that operating an online game is about more than just game development.," Pearce said.

[Via VG247]

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And even after sharing all of those numbers and all of those facts people will continue to find things to complain about. :]

ae86gamer:
And even after sharing all of those numbers and all of those facts people will continue to find things to complain about. :]

11.5 million subscriptions per month @ £8.99 makes just over 100 million pounds per month.

The fact that scumbag Koticks getting some of this is enough to complain about before you go into all the rest of it.

Dividing by 4600 people makes roughly a monthly pay of £22,000. Do you really think that's feasible?

I'm such a WoW Tool, but the amount of adversity vs my indifference makes me head ache alot so I'll say it again, it's a great game with a huge amount of work put into it. I know this, those that say otherwise just need to get a life and try making something even near as complex instead of investing time in whining about it.

That be all mateys.

What? Blood sacrifice no longer is enough?

The_root_of_all_evil:

ae86gamer:
And even after sharing all of those numbers and all of those facts people will continue to find things to complain about. :]

11.5 million subscriptions per month @ £8.99 makes just over 100 million pounds per month.

The fact that scumbag Koticks getting some of this is enough to complain about before you go into all the rest of it.

Dividing by 4600 people makes roughly a monthly pay of £22,000. Do you really think that's feasible?

£22,000, less development costs on the game, less development costs on the OTHER games, less maintenance on their 76,000 CPUs and 13,250 server blades. And then, of course, they get to take whatever's left and split that between their own coffers and that of Vivendi.

1.3 PETAbytes?!?

I am staggered. Is there anything else at all that is even measured in petabytes?

The_root_of_all_evil:

ae86gamer:
And even after sharing all of those numbers and all of those facts people will continue to find things to complain about. :]

11.5 million subscriptions per month @ £8.99 makes just over 100 million pounds per month.

The fact that scumbag Koticks getting some of this is enough to complain about before you go into all the rest of it.

Dividing by 4600 people makes roughly a monthly pay of £22,000. Do you really think that's feasible?

I would imagine the electricty, bandwidth, and cooling systems for all those servers to take quite the chunk out. Plus, they have to pay royalties for other countries.

I am not really shocked, but was somewhat suprised by the number.

CantFaketheFunk:

The_root_of_all_evil:

ae86gamer:
And even after sharing all of those numbers and all of those facts people will continue to find things to complain about. :]

11.5 million subscriptions per month @ £8.99 makes just over 100 million pounds per month.

The fact that scumbag Koticks getting some of this is enough to complain about before you go into all the rest of it.

Dividing by 4600 people makes roughly a monthly pay of £22,000. Do you really think that's feasible?

£22,000, less development costs on the game, less development costs on the OTHER games, less maintenance on their 76,000 CPUs and 13,250 server blades. And then, of course, they get to take whatever's left and split that between their own coffers and that of Vivendi.

That's a 'month' though. Most professional programmers get that per year. And if they're losing money at Blizzcon...sorry, it just doesn't add up...something somewhere is getting an awful lot of cash or they're hemorrhaging money.

The_root_of_all_evil:

CantFaketheFunk:

The_root_of_all_evil:

ae86gamer:
And even after sharing all of those numbers and all of those facts people will continue to find things to complain about. :]

11.5 million subscriptions per month @ £8.99 makes just over 100 million pounds per month.

The fact that scumbag Koticks getting some of this is enough to complain about before you go into all the rest of it.

Dividing by 4600 people makes roughly a monthly pay of £22,000. Do you really think that's feasible?

£22,000, less development costs on the game, less development costs on the OTHER games, less maintenance on their 76,000 CPUs and 13,250 server blades. And then, of course, they get to take whatever's left and split that between their own coffers and that of Vivendi.

That's a 'month' though. Most professional programmers get that per year. And if they're losing money at Blizzcon...sorry, it just doesn't add up...something somewhere is getting an awful lot of cash or they're hemorrhaging money.

Yeah, but 76,000 CPUs and 13,250 server blades cost stuff every month, too: Bandwidth? Electricity? Plus, not all the subscriptions pay the same per month - they get MUCH less money from the Asian market due to currency differences and different pay schemes.

I'm... not sure what Blizzcon has to do with any of this - I may be just missing your point. It costs them more money to throw than they get back in ticket sales / merchandise sales. That's irrelevant to how much they're making / not making on WoW.

WE MUST STRIKE AT THE HEART!

In seriousness that i pretty epic amounts of data.

well... when you consider Blizzard makes (before expenses) (11.5*30) 345 million dollars PER MONTH... I think they might be able to hire a few more employees.

That number is far more striking to me than any other mentioned in this thread... even the 5.5M lines of code.

The_root_of_all_evil:

CantFaketheFunk:

The_root_of_all_evil:

ae86gamer:
And even after sharing all of those numbers and all of those facts people will continue to find things to complain about. :]

11.5 million subscriptions per month @ £8.99 makes just over 100 million pounds per month.

The fact that scumbag Koticks getting some of this is enough to complain about before you go into all the rest of it.

Dividing by 4600 people makes roughly a monthly pay of £22,000. Do you really think that's feasible?

£22,000, less development costs on the game, less development costs on the OTHER games, less maintenance on their 76,000 CPUs and 13,250 server blades. And then, of course, they get to take whatever's left and split that between their own coffers and that of Vivendi.

That's a 'month' though. Most professional programmers get that per year. And if they're losing money at Blizzcon...sorry, it just doesn't add up...something somewhere is getting an awful lot of cash or they're hemorrhaging money.

It's an evil plot to take over and refeudalize the earth. They're funding the whole thing.

ICs2Xist:
well... when you consider Blizzard makes (before expenses) (11.5*30) 345 million dollars PER MONTH... I think they might be able to hire a few more employees.

That number is far more striking to me than any other mentioned in this thread... even the 5.5M lines of code.

Going off of incorrect numbers there - it's $15 per month, and half of their playerbase (in Asia) doesn't pay monthly. I... don't want to say this DEFINITELY (and don't quote me on this) but I remember seeing a chart that showed that despite the playerbase being a pretty even 50/50 split between West and East, the revenue was something like 90/10 in favor of the West, so... yeah.

With those numbers, it's more like 100 million (from the West) plus... let's just go with 10 million as a ballpark. 110 million per month. Still impressive, slightly less ridiculous.

The_root_of_all_evil:

CantFaketheFunk:

The_root_of_all_evil:

ae86gamer:
And even after sharing all of those numbers and all of those facts people will continue to find things to complain about. :]

11.5 million subscriptions per month @ £8.99 makes just over 100 million pounds per month.

The fact that scumbag Koticks getting some of this is enough to complain about before you go into all the rest of it.

Dividing by 4600 people makes roughly a monthly pay of £22,000. Do you really think that's feasible?

£22,000, less development costs on the game, less development costs on the OTHER games, less maintenance on their 76,000 CPUs and 13,250 server blades. And then, of course, they get to take whatever's left and split that between their own coffers and that of Vivendi.

That's a 'month' though. Most professional programmers get that per year. And if they're losing money at Blizzcon...sorry, it just doesn't add up...something somewhere is getting an awful lot of cash or they're hemorrhaging money.

Ahhh, right - I did wonder when I read £22,000 - I thought 'thats not that much per year' - anywho... Blizzard is more than WoW...well, abit more than WoW ;)... Add to that, Activison is probably looting and pillaging the place and/or its profits.

CantFaketheFunk:

ICs2Xist:
well... when you consider Blizzard makes (before expenses) (11.5*30) 345 million dollars PER MONTH... I think they might be able to hire a few more employees.

That number is far more striking to me than any other mentioned in this thread... even the 5.5M lines of code.

Going off of incorrect numbers there - it's $15 per month, and half of their playerbase (in Asia) doesn't pay monthly. I... don't want to say this DEFINITELY (and don't quote me on this) but I remember seeing a chart that showed that despite the playerbase being a pretty even 50/50 split between West and East, the revenue was something like 90/10 in favor of the West, so... yeah.

With those numbers, it's more like 100 million (from the West) plus... let's just go with 10 million as a ballpark. 110 million per month. Still impressive, slightly less ridiculous.

Wait, the Eastern players get WoW cheaper? Or is it that they go one month on, one month off?

Doug:

CantFaketheFunk:

ICs2Xist:
well... when you consider Blizzard makes (before expenses) (11.5*30) 345 million dollars PER MONTH... I think they might be able to hire a few more employees.

That number is far more striking to me than any other mentioned in this thread... even the 5.5M lines of code.

Going off of incorrect numbers there - it's $15 per month, and half of their playerbase (in Asia) doesn't pay monthly. I... don't want to say this DEFINITELY (and don't quote me on this) but I remember seeing a chart that showed that despite the playerbase being a pretty even 50/50 split between West and East, the revenue was something like 90/10 in favor of the West, so... yeah.

With those numbers, it's more like 100 million (from the West) plus... let's just go with 10 million as a ballpark. 110 million per month. Still impressive, slightly less ridiculous.

Wait, the Eastern players get WoW cheaper? Or is it that they go one month on, one month off?

Again, don't quote me on this, but I'm reasonably sure that since most Asian gamers play in internet cafes, they run on a pay-per-hour model rather than a monthly subscription. Plus, when you factor in the currency differences/different costs of living, whatever they need to pay their chinese partner/government... they're not making nearly as much money off of the East as they are the West.

More interesting numbers/breakdown for the people working on the game:

* Game Design: 37
* Cinematics: 123
* Platform Services: 245
* Quality Assurance: 218
* International Offices Population: 1,724
* Game Masters: 2,056
* Billing: 240
* Quality Control: 67
* Technical Support: 121
* Online Technologies: 149

Some of that overlaps - international GMs and such.

The_root_of_all_evil:

ae86gamer:
And even after sharing all of those numbers and all of those facts people will continue to find things to complain about. :]

11.5 million subscriptions per month @ £8.99 makes just over 100 million pounds per month

Erroneous math is fallacious.

Like every company reporting numbers on their MMOs, WoW's reported 11.5 million includes canceled/banned accounts. This also includes the thousands that gold sellers make and destroy on a constant basis in order to avoid detection.

So yeah, WoW is undeniably the biggest MMO, but it does not have 11.5 million active (IE: Paying a monthly fee) accounts.

WhiteTigerShiro:

So yeah, WoW is undeniably the biggest MMO, but it does not have 11.5 million active (IE: Paying a monthly fee) accounts.

Blizzard said it did, back at the Lich King days. Who you gonna believe?

WhiteTigerShiro:

The_root_of_all_evil:

ae86gamer:
And even after sharing all of those numbers and all of those facts people will continue to find things to complain about. :]

11.5 million subscriptions per month @ £8.99 makes just over 100 million pounds per month

Erroneous math is fallacious.

Like every company reporting numbers on their MMOs, WoW's reported 11.5 million includes canceled/banned accounts. This also includes the thousands that gold sellers make and destroy on a constant basis in order to avoid detection.

So yeah, WoW is undeniably the biggest MMO, but it does not have 11.5 million active (IE: Paying a monthly fee) accounts.

Actually, that figure is active accounts, as far as we know.

That's a lot of PCs and servers...that could be doing much more useful things :|+)

The_root_of_all_evil:

ae86gamer:
And even after sharing all of those numbers and all of those facts people will continue to find things to complain about. :]

11.5 million subscriptions per month @ £8.99 makes just over 100 million pounds per month.

The fact that scumbag Koticks getting some of this is enough to complain about before you go into all the rest of it.

Dividing by 4600 people makes roughly a monthly pay of £22,000. Do you really think that's feasible?

you are using the wrong calculations. first on all you have to convert everything to USD as most of the company is american. WoW also has 12.5-13 million subscriptions, not 11.5, that number that was reached in november last year.

Koticks doesnt get that large of a cut of the blizzard pie, after all, the CEO of blizzard can fire him whenever he wants.

Somehow 70000 spells doesn't seem right, unless they are counting every little effect like boss fights, and every rank, and every race that can be that class then that just doesn't seem right at all to me.

I'm pretty sure that Vivendi benefits more on a financial level than Activision in terms of profits from Blizzard.

morpher80:
I do have to say the people that play that game are usually fat and huge nerds

Uh, thanks for your constructive feedback.

OT: All these numbers do seem interesting, especially the number of people actually working on the game. That seems like a lot of work for a game with 11 million subscribers...

it takes them all that and yet they can't get rid of the gold spammers much like other mmo's can

cleverlymadeup:
it takes them all that and yet they can't get rid of the gold spammers much like other mmo's can

The gold sellers would make the most profit off of World Of Warcraft, so there would be a lot more and would be harder to get rid of them.

I seem to remember WOW players (like me) use the annual power generated by solar energy... every day.

Good, we're playing WOW, we didn't need sunlight anyways :D

Think it's worth to start from scratch in WoW? Though that would be at the expense of a quite successful college 'run' so far.

Keane Ng:
51 artists handle 1.5 million unique assets in the game

My head asplode.

Juggling a couple dozen assets is hard enough...holy shit.

people are forgetting the cashcow that is the expansion packs too.

Oh god, I've never even heard of a petabyte... D:

It takes a lot to develop Warcraft and keep it up and running.

Fortunately for Blizzard a dump truck pulls up to their offices every morning and leaves a humongous pile of cash on their front door step.

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