Are there patches to World of Warcraft?
World of Warcraft is continually being updated with new content, as well as performance enhancements and bug fixes. The main ways that the game will be updated are with content patches, hotfixes, emergency patches, and localization patches.
What is a content patch?
The content patch introduces major additions and/or changes to the game, whether in terms of functionality, content, economy, social interaction, or combat. Past content patches have included new dungeons, zones, and items. They also include non-critical bug fixes, game balance changes, and new game features and functionality. Content patches require a maintenance period of several hours and are accompanied by a download and patch notes. The typical time to implement a content patch is during Tuesday maintenance.
What is a hotfix?
A hotfix is a change made to the game deemed critical enough that it cannot be held off until a regular content patch. Hotfixes require only a server-side change with no download and can be implemented with no downtime, or a short restart of the realms. Because there is no download component to a hotfix, there are no downloadable patch notes. Instead, we will announce hotfix information through the forums, the in-game message of the day, and in the Server Alert window on the login screen.
What is an emergency patch?
An emergency patch is identical to a hotfix, with the exception that an emergency patch requires a download and will be accompanied by patch notes.
What is a localization patch?
The game is currently translated into multiple languages. While not often, there are times when we must make changes to text within the game to accommodate the various languages, and this takes the form of a localization patch. Localization patches, when they occur, take place across all language versions of the game and are accompanied by a download and patch notes. Oftentimes, bug fixes will also be included with a localization patch to better utilize the downtime. These bug fixes will be documented in the patch notes as well.