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Blizzard apologies for WOW downtime

Offers 48 hours of free play to compensate.

Blizzard has apologised profusely to fans of World of Warcraft who experienced huge delays joining servers over the weekend and on Monday's nationwide American holiday, implemented a stop-gap fix to try and assuage fans' anger, and pledged to credit players' accounts with an extra 48 hours of paid-for play-time to compensate.

According to reports, as many as 20 of the game's 88 servers were down over the weekend following a scheduled outrage last Thursday that prompted unscheduled outrage all over the world. So outraged were the writers of web-comic fave Penny Arcade that they even withdrew their "Game of the Year 2004" award for the title in protest.

Many gamers found it hard, if not impossible, to log on at all over the weekend, and forums are alive with talk of problems over recent weeks. Following a couple of days of problems, Blizzard seemingly gave up trying to sustain the game's online presence and rescue the situation at the same time on Sunday and took all the servers down for "emergency service".

The developer later posted a lengthy apology on its forum and spoke of a stop-gap fix. "As a temporary solution, we have placed lower population restrictions on the affected realms; this results in queues when the population reaches a certain number," it said on its website, which means that a lot of players will still have trouble connecting, but those who can should at least be able to experience the game in the expected way.

Blizzard subsequently announced that it will provide a free 48-hour extension of play-time to compensate, but fans angry at persistent problems stirred by this latest flashpoint aren't that impressed. Having spent most of yesterday evening standing around a crowded Eurostar departure lounge waiting to go home before being offered a free one-way ticket by way of compensation, we can certainly say we know the feeling. Although we do recognise that World of Warcraft's downtime probably has little or nothing to do with people trying to stow away on a train...

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