World of Warcraft, Blizzard's phenomenally successful fantasy MMOG, has once again come under the spotlight after a number of complaints from the game's online community. Players are venting their frustration about significant disruptions to their playing experience, characterized by lag spikes--long pauses in action when information ceases to flow between the game server and the user's computer--and seemingly random disconnects.

The issues, especially those surrounding lag, have been an ongoing problem for some months on selected European servers previously, but after work by Blizzard and its partners on identifying the issues, and some hardware upgrades, the matter seemed to have been resolved.

During further hardware upgrades at the end of June, ironically designed to increase realm performance and stability, the gremlins seem to have returned. After a planned period of extended downtime, stemming from the usual midweek maintenance window, players on some of the realms have since appeared to be suffering from performance glitches. Blizzard has opened a thread on the official forum to invite players to send feedback on the matter, in the hope that they can identify the source of the problem.

GameSpot UK asked Blizzard Europe for more information on the situation, but had received no response as of press time. However, an official statement from Blizzard indicated that customers will be given free game time as compensation for the unavailability of servers during the hardware transfer period. This will go some way to placate many of the users who are unable to play during the extended maintenance period, but it doesn't seem to address the problem of lag spikes and random disconnects that have plagued some servers since the end of June.

One possible solution to the problem, discovered by the community, may involve the IP address of the user. There has been no official response on whether or not this is a genuine fix, but word-of-mouth reports from a number of players seem to indicate it may have helped some people. One user commented that the biggest source of frustration for gamers continues to be a lack of timely information on the progress of the issues, and an online petition set up not long after the game's launch in Europe continues to attract signatures. Blizzard is currently attempting to gather more information from users on the issue in the hope of finding a solution.