As part of Rogers (Canada's largest cable ISP) essentially declaring war on Bittorrent, Canadian World of Warcraft players discovered they weren't immune, as it was discovered this weekend through an audit by Canada's telecom regulator that Rogers classified the game they were playing as a bandwidth Weapon of Mass Consumption.
Thank you for your letters of February 23rd and 25th, 2011 regarding the impact of Rogers Internet traffic management practices (ITMP) on the interactive game called World of Warcraft. Our tests have determined that there is a problem with our traffic management equipment that can interfere with World of Warcraft. We have been in contact with the game manufacturer and we have been working with our equipment supplier to overcome this problem. We recently introduced a software modification to solve the problems our customers are experiencing with World of Warcraft. However, there have been recent changes to the game, which has created new problems. A second software modification to address these new issues will not be ready until June.
The problem, in a nutshell, is twofold. First, Blizzard launched with a peer-to-peer update system using Bittorrent. While many people complained about this at the time (including myself, loudly), over the years Blizzard has refined their downloader/the Internet has caught up with the need to keep millions of WoW clients updated/people just accepted the fact that patch day downloads were awful. Eventually third party vendors such as Pando other MMOs (especially free to play ones) such as Lord of the Rings Online moved to peer-to-peer updating as well. However, to ISPs examining traffic, Blizzard's users were using a Bittorrent client. Because... well, they were! Second, with the introduction of Cataclysm, Blizzard refined their peer-to-peer downloading system to the point that it was embedded within the client itself, allowing users to play while new content was being streamed to them. This in and of itself wasn't new, but it meant that WoW players could potentially be running a peer-to-peer application - called World of Warcraft - the entire time they're playing WoW. Which resulted in Rogers throttling ALL traffic used by the World of Warcraft client, to the point that Rogers customers were being advised in the WoW forums to use a VPN tunnel just so they can play the game. Of course, you would think that ISPs would be aware that World of Warcraft is, by dint of being one of the if not the most popular internet online game, something that users might be a bit sensitive regarding. Then again, given that Rogers also regularly breaks the internet's most popular VoIP client because apparently people have the temerity to actually use it, maybe they just don't care. So much for that stereotype of Canadians being well-mannered and civil, eh?