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WoW ClassicSep 9, 2019 2:00 pm CT

Blizzard tries to fix WoW Classic layer-hopping abuse in new hotfix

Players are funny. An old friend once described players as relentlessly rational, and I like to think of it along those lines, but another way to put it is that if there is a way, any way, to abuse a game system sooner or later someone is going to find and exploit it. Such is the case with WoW Classic and its layered realms — created to make sure as many people as want to play get a chance to, there are some reports of people using realm layering to exploit the economy on classic servers. Blizzard has investigated these claims, and while they argue that some of the wilder claims for realm layering abuse are unfounded, apparently there’s enough abuse out there that they’ve decided to put a fix out.

We’ve been monitoring players’ use of layers, and we agree that we should add a delay between subsequent layer transfers. Under the hood we have all the controls I talked about in the Reddit AMA before launch, a few secret weapons we haven’t discussed publicly, and we’re working on deploying some additional controls to further restrain layering from being exploitable.

However, we also want to assure you that the issue is a much smaller problem than some people are claiming. We’ve been closely monitoring the effect layering is having on economies and other aspects of the game, and many of the stories we see posted are wildly inaccurate. We’ve seen screenshots of banks full of rare crafting materials, which we’ve investigated and proved false.

Another popular theory is that you can determine your current layer by doing a /who in a capital city, and comparing the results against the /who your friend does. That doesn’t work because /who returns results from the entire realm, not just from your layer, and if the result set is too large it truncates the results before sorting them. This means every player gets different results, but those differences in result set have nothing to do with which layer you’re on. This has led some people to claim that they’ve discovered dozens of layers per realm, but that claim is completely false.

All realms have a single-digit number of layers. Most of them have a low single-digit number.

Rest assured that there are not people running around with banks full of (Thorium) Arcane Crystals or Black Lotus.

I feel pretty good taking Pazorax at his word for the simple fact that the devs have much better monitoring of their servers than we do, so I’ll accept that people are overly worked up about this issue and are blowing it up over what it actually is, but still, it actually is a problem — if players can use layering to get an advantage, even if it’s a much smaller one than reported, they’re going to do it. And small discrepancies can add up over time, especially since realm layering is absolutely not something that existed in vanilla WoW, and thus not really something that the economic systems that were developed at that time are prepared to absorb. So how is Blizzard dealing with this issues?

Well, they’re not Republic Serial Villains, y’all. They already did it.

Originally Posted by Kaivax (Official Post)

We recently developed a hotfix that restricts frequent layer-hopping, without impacting those who simply wish to play with their friends. Following realm restarts earlier today, this hotfix is now live in all realms in the Americas and Oceania region.

Now, each time a player moves to a new layer, there will be an increasing amount of time before that player can move to another layer. If a player moves between layers multiple times over a short timeframe, the cooldown can increase to a duration of several minutes (or longer) before they can change layers again. The cooldown will then decrease over time for players who don’t change layers.

This hotfix will become active in other regions following their next realm restarts.

Thank you!

This should work to impede the abuse of layering to gather resources or tag quest mobs without preventing layering from doing what it was intended to do, allow players to play on a realm without it feeling either too empty or too crowded. It’s a decent solution for the problem without an overreaction or course correction that doesn’t seem warranted at this time.

Keep an eye out for any weirdness with layering, though. Hotfixes can be tricky beasts.

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