I’ve seen a few people talking about connected Realms as of late, in part because they’ve recently become connected to another realm. Stands to reason, of course. I’ve had the distinct pleasure of not suffering that fate just yet on my main server, but it’s a scheduled change on the horizon.
So there’s been a lot of discussion on whether the connections are positive or negative overall and I think your mileage varies on that one. If you’re a PvE realm that is suddenly connected to a PvP realm you are more than within your right to drive to Blizzard headquarters and keyboard slap anyone inside the development department. That one just completely baffles me. But then, the whole approach to realm management has baffled me and then some. By the end of 2008, Blizzard had 223 realms. Now that’s right after Wrath of the Lich King launched, so you’re looking at a period many consider to be the peak of the game. As of today there are 226 US realms alone!
There have always been low population servers, due largely to the constant introduction of them. When you have low population servers, why add more? There is zero logic to explain that, unless you want the player base to be as divided as possible, or you think it will generate revenue when players subsequently want to transfer. Of course, the transfer money has to outweigh the money you spent on the servers in the first place, so I don’t see how that’s smart business.
So we had all these servers and what did Blizzard decide to do? Close some of them down. No, wait. That’s not it. That would’ve been the smart thing to do. Instead we got Cross Realm Zones. Oh this was bloody brilliant. Now you had 2-3 times the node thiefs, mob taggers, and general griefers. If you were on a low population server that got merged with a higher one for zones, oh lucky you. I have seen two good things come from CRZ’s and one is indirect. Cities aside from Stormwind actually show signs of life again, which is great if a new player happens to come along. It’s nice when more than just Storm/Org look busy. The other bonus was that you could cross-realm group/raid. That right there is absolutely awesome, I completely admit it. But otherwise there are a tonne of headaches from CRZ.
So after that little test, and general populace disappointment, you would think Blizzard would catch on. Nope, let’s now connect realms together. Part of me would give them benefit of the doubt if there appeared to be any rhyme or reason at all to the pairings, but there’s next to none. Not faction population, not PvE, not RP, not even time zones. I’m genuinely baffled on the basis of these match-ups.
The solution was not a difficult one in the first place. Step one would have been to stop introducing new servers years ago. I can’t speak for everyone, but the last time I had a queue of any kind for one of my realms (and a couple were “full” for a long time) was Wrath. And we’re talking the first month of launch. I’ve never sat in a queue since. But, we got more and more and more servers, didn’t we? At some point, Blizzard should’ve looked and gone “wow, over these 10 servers we have less than 1% of the playerbase combined.” Then, give the realm(s) 30 days notice that it’s closing and allow free transfers off the server to anywhere except the one(s) closing. After 30 days, characters not transferred would be moved to a similarly set server.
I’m not saying wipe out all the low population servers, but some could certainly go. Heck, the ones where one faction controls the capital city of the other one because the player ratio is about 5000-3 could certainly be an option. You would slowly begin to centralize your population again and save money by not running all these servers. I could do a completely separate post about questioning where the money goes that Blizzard makes just off of player subscriptions, but that’s not the focus right now. Regardless of the answer to that, one can’t argue that too many servers is a waste of time and money.
The apparent decision to turn around and link together realms and players who in many cases don’t even want to be linked isn’t the solution to this self-created problem either. To me, it seems like they looked at the realms situation and instead of admitting continual expansion was an error in judgement, they’re getting out band-aids to heal a missing hand.