What purpose does stress testing computer game servers serve?

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I am as excited as anyone for /r/wowclassic (World of Warcraft Classic) release.

And I noticed they are often doing stress tests, even shutting down some realm servers so that they can cause more stress to the servers they already have up.

Can someone explain to me why it’s essential to stress test servers and what information does its provide for the developers? How does it assist them?

Thanks in advance.

In: Technology

I’d assume that it’s because they want to know just how they need to tweak it for each server to reach peak efficiency

It’s all about numbers.

They have an idea about how many users they can allow to log on at the same time on one server.

And they have an idea about how many users they are likely to get.

Which means that they can, in theory at least, estimate how many servers they need to keep up and running.

But…what happens if the number of users a server can handle is wrong?

Then it all falls apart. For everyone. And they loose face. Offering a service that ain’t working is…not exactly a good business model if you have customers who pay monthly for your service. Because they will stop paying. So, it’s an obvious business mistake to not know for sure how many users you can handle having logged on at the same time.

That’s what the stress testing is for. The servers are tested. So that when they think that a specific server can handle 5000 users (that figure is something I just made up, it has no real world correlation) they know for sure that the damn thing totally can handle 5000 users.

The stress test can also reveal that the server can actually only handle 4000 users, and if that is the case they have to act accordingly one it comes to how many servers they need.