Massively multiplayer title World of Warcraft appears to have become a victim of its own success, with developer Blizzard forced to apologise as serious server problems continue to prevent many users from accessing the game.
As many as a quarter of the World of Warcraft servers for North America were reportedly down over the past weekend, following a day-long scheduled outage on Thursday which was meant to fix previous stability and overloading problems.
"Last Thursday they took down realm servers to 'fix' the problem," one angry player told GamesIndustry.biz. "I can say that this only made the game worse. Over the weekend the servers were crashing ever hour or so."
Many players also report being dropped out of games in progress - often wasting hours of time spent forming a party or accomplishing part of a quest - and long queues to actually join busy servers.
Now the developer has apologised to players for the problems, and promised to give a free 48-hour extension to their play time by way of compensation - but the issues remain largely unfixed.
Blizzard has implemented a stopgap solution to fill in until the servers can be properly upgraded, with the population caps on busy servers being lowered so that fewer players can go online at the same time - a move which has reportedly increased stability, but made it even harder for players to actually log into the game.
While Blizzard's server difficulties have been met with an astonishing outpouring of bile from players on web forums, it's only the immense popularity of the game that has actually caused this problem in the first place.
World of Warcraft smashed records in North America when it was launched before Christmas, selling through over 600,000 units by the end of the year and seeing 200,000 players logged in simultaneously - the largest number of concurrent players ever see in an MMORPG.
For more on Blizzard and World of Warcraft, check out our exclusive interview with creative director Chris Metzen and VP of business operations Paul Sams, where they discuss the new challenges the company has faced in developing its first MMORPG title.