One Big Happy… Oh Wait….
We’ve seen this on our own forums. I’m sure similar topics have cropped up on other small servers. With the drop in subscribers, and the ease of transferring characters and guilds, sparsely populated servers are becoming more sparse. So the question is, to merge or not to merge servers?
Let’s take a look at some of the larger issues that our communities are facing with medium/low pop servers becoming low pop/desolate.
- Grouping. PUGs for normal content don’t exist.
- Recruitment. With the pool so thin, guilds are forced to recruit off-server, and have to convince players why they should help breathe new life into their server.
- Too many guilds, not enough people.
One of the “solutions” that’s been brought up was let’s just merge everyone into one big fat oversized server. Makes sense, right? Let’s look at the Pros and Cons to this.
- Solves the pesky low-pop issues
- Solves some recruitment issues
- Players don’t have to spend a fortune to transfer characters or guilds
Technical limitations. If we merged every realm into one big fat physical server, think of all the technical issues and forum qq explosions that will arise:
- Login ques during prime time. You thought your high-pop ques were bad? HAH.
- Lag. You thought 3 groups of 40 players killing Oondasta caused lag and slowed down performance? HAH.
- Space. That would require a LOT of drive space. And it would require expandable drive space.
- Maintenance/Rolling restarts. Byebye rolling restarts. hello one big fat restart and 8 million people whining together.
- If a server goes down for whatever reason, that’s 8+million people blowing up the forums, and not just a few thousand if a realm gets knocked offline. That will knock the entire battle.net site offline if it gets that kind of traffic.
- Not a lot of room to expand a physical server if subscriber base increases.
Naming Issues. There would have to be some VERY unique names out there. All of you 213 tauren paladins out there named “Holycow” (plus the many variations thereof), guess what? Only one of you gets to keep it. That goes for the 89 guilds named <Awesome>, the 144 guilds named <Insomnia> and the 161 guilds named <Invictus>.
Trolling/Harassment. You know how you can just leave a server if someone is trolling/harassing you? Or if there is drama you need to get away from? And don’t even get me started on trade chat! Where are you going to go now? Rift?
More Griefers. Trying to get that quest mob, but there are 900 other players there going for the same quest mob? Good luck!
Different Styles. Realistically, we’d have to have one big PVE server, one big PVP server, one big RPPVE server and one big RPPVP server. Otherwise we’ve just alienated 3 player bases. And the Goldshire Inn may get VERY interesting to some unsuspecting players! Is that something you’d want your kids to stumble into?
Economy. This would completely change the face of the economy. For better or worse, who knows? But it will be a lot different, that’s for sure.
So what are some other solutions?
Blizzard attempted to populate some areas by cross-realm zoning. There are some ways that this can improve. I would love to see Cross-Realm guilds. Allow players to join guilds on other servers without physically being on that server. Consolidating some of the lower populated servers by auto-transferring everyone from 1-2 low pop servers into one maybe another solution. But what if… ?
Physically, players are on different servers. However, there should be a way to make these servers virtually transparent. On the back end. spreading the resources among many servers will solve enormous login ques, drive space issues and other performance issues. But on the front end, make it seem that everyone is on the same server. This would give us:
- Cross-realm Guilds – the ability to join a guild physically located on another realm without having to transfer characters.
- One AH for each faction (yes, it would change the economy as we know it, but the AH interface needs a makeover anyway).
- Cross realm grouping for ALL content without necessarily having to go through the battletag system.
- The ability to mail items across realms to other toons.
- The ability to send tells to players not on your battletag or in your group by typing the name-realm.
This is already the direction Blizzard has been moving in with the use of the Battletag/RealID system. We are already able to form cross-realm groups via the battletag system. We are already able to see players on other realms while we’re leveling baby toons through deserted content. The functionality is there. We just need to build on it.