After getting Guest Pass to acquire World of Warcraft, obtaining the game wasn’t nearly the seamless process I expect from Steam games. After downloading a hulking 2.84GB file (3 hours!) that required me to use a “download manager,” it took quite a while to extract and install the game. I booted up the game, marveled at the beautiful intro cinematic, and wondered why they had spoiled the dramatic text in the beginning by appending everything with Â®. The movie got me really excited about playing. Seeing the login screen reminded me of my need to register. So, I went to the account creation page, fed it my guest pass authentication code they had emailed me, and agreed to all the contracts without reading them. (8 pages?! I want to play the game already!) Alas, such was only a wish at this point.
Blizzard wanted a credit card number, the reason turned out to be preventing people from creating multiple Guest Accounts. Dad came over, and insisted on skimming the contracts before he told them anything. I printed off the confirmation page, booted up the game, and logged in. Update successful. Press restart to download and install the patch. Patch? Didn’t I just download 3GB worth of this game? Oh, well. Hopefully it’s a small one. 0MB out of 485MB. 5 hours remaining. WHAT?! As I explored the menus of the “Blizzard Downloader,” I realized it was a poorly hacked-up Bittorrent client. It had a peer list and everything, the difference being a sickly “HTTP Direct Download” was one of my peers. Despite a peer list as long as my arm, I got pitiful download speeds, even after forwarding ports. As with most torrents, download speeds were sporadic. No matter what speed I was downloading at, the client ate bandwidth alive. It seemed as though Blizzard were determined to stop new people from getting World of Warcraft.
When it finally reached around 98%, the downloader started predicting times of around three minutes left. Yay! Then the download stopped. Zip. Zilch. Zero. Nada. It wasn’t done. No, even the combined might of several peers with 100% complete and the HTTP download couldn’t overcome the hasty construction of what I felt was a crime to all software in existence. Apparently the speed managed to stay at a trickle, as the downloaded file size crawled upwards.
I started up the game again, logged in, and discovered I needed another patch. To be fair, this one was only 3.12MB. When I downloaded the game again on my other computer, I got the game and both patches at once. Then after the whole long, laborious process of creating an account and squeezing insane amounts of patch data into my machine, I logged on, created a character, and started playing. It all became worthwhile in that moment. Within less than a week, my sister and I had become addicted enough to share the $15 monthly cost, and in my opinion the investment is well worth it.
PS: Undead mages rule! Horde foreva!
EDIT: It’s been long enough since I wrote this that I’d like to point out that Blizzard has offered up a much more recent version of the game for initial download, (2.0.0) that the patch downloader has been greatly improved, and a download manager is no longer needed. Instead, both patch and main game downloads use the Blizzard Downloader, which has been improved since this article.