Blizzard’s had an unstable time this month. It seems like in the past week barely a day has passed between service-disrupting DDOS attacks hitting Battle.net, disrupting everything from WoW’s demon invasions to Overwatch quick play. Server engineers have dealt with each in turn, but it’s unlikely to relax with one of the company’s biggest products of the year, Legion, coming out in just a few days.
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A note on what DDOSing actually is. It’s described best in this Reddit thread that was passed around a few subs at the start of August when problems initially flared. Essentially, it doesn’t take any kind of real technical knowledge or banks of computers. Anyone with a spot of spare cash can initiate a DDOS attack, and it’s not particularly expensive. The thread goes through the details of how it works and why it’s so hard to combat.
As for why it’s being done there’s been blame placed on disgruntled Overwatch fans after the Summer Loot Box was released, disgruntled Hearthstone fans after the problems with Purify and disgruntled WoW fans because it’s a day ending in y. The truth is almost certainly more simple – arseholes are a calendar-round problem, and during summer a lack of school time means there’s even more. An angry community doesn’t usually resort to ruining the game further for themselves and everyone else.
So, what can you do about it? Well the Blizzard Customer Service Twitter pretty much exists to keep you appraised of this sort of thing, and there’s one for various languages and regions around the world. Beyond that, it’s mostly about minimising the effect that extra lag, services being down or a sudden disconnect will have on whichever game you’re playing. Hearthstone’s pretty safe unless Nozdormu shows up, while it might be best to delay raid nights in World of Warcraft. Overwatch is touchier, though with competitive not currently in season you’re not losing anything if you’re hit. Diablo will be fine, while avoiding Heroes of the Storm ranked queues if you find out a DDOS is happening is likely a good idea.
We reached out to Blizzard for any information they could give us about how they’re battling it and further advice for players, but they haven’t responded. Legion’s out on August 30 and will certainly be a target point for trouble-makers, something big blue will be well aware of. For Warlords of Draenor, we saw other Blizzard services be affected just by the swamp of logins to Battle.net and WoW without any foul play in place. In their last conference call, Activision Blizzard said pre-orders for Legion were similar so, well, you do the maths.