Data center moves are making all the wrong kinds of news this month. The latest incident affected the European version of World of Warcraft, the world’s largest online virtual world, which had 30 game servers offline for an extended period during a facility transfer. The WoW Insider blog describes the scene: “The forums are full of extremely angry users, tempers are running high, and the few people I did manage to speak to ingame were all creating new characters and furious that they couldn’t access their normal servers.”
While it might seem like a small matter for gamers to lose access to an online game for a day or so, the fact of the matter is that virtual worlds are becoming an important business, both in size and financial impact. World of Warcraft has more than 5 million paying members who pony up $12 to $15 a month to play. These games can require hundreds of servers (or “realms” in gamer speak), so there’s some pretty serious data center infrastructure supporting the operation. Everquest requires 1,500 servers, for example.
Virtual worlds are yet another fast-growing form of digital entertainment that will contribute to demand for data center infrastructure, and we’ll be tracking this sector’s growth and requirements going forward.