Wednesday, June 08, 2022

Server Merges in WoW Classic

It looks like WoW Classic is actually going to do server merges in preparation for Wrath of the Lich King. Shintar has a good post on the changes. It's a pretty big change for Blizzard, as they've always avoided server merges in the past. 

It will be interesting to see how they handle names, especially for the people still playing on the smaller servers. It's quite likely that their names will already be taken on the larger server that they will be transferred to, possibly by a character who is no longer subscribed.

Hopefully they do something like the subscriber keeps the name if a non-subscriber has it. Still, for the subscriber vs subscriber case, I bet there will be a lot of complaints.

I'm generally in favour of experiments, so good for Blizzard for trying something different.

One experiment I'd like to see--maybe with the next Season of Mastery--is very strong faction and server balance restrictions. If the Horde or Alliance gets more than 1% larger, lock the larger faction, preventing new players to the server from making characters. Similarly keep the server populations in lockstep, and prevent mega-servers from forming. Disallow faction transfers. Have these restrictions be based on the number of accounts that played in the last week or so.

Blizzard has always shied away from things like this, except when a server is truly overloaded. They've felt that it's better to live with unbalanced servers than have friends be unable to play with each other. But I think Classic has shown that the playerbase will actively make balance problems worse. So I think it's worth experimenting and seeing what happens if balance is enforced, and mega-servers are prevented from coming into being.


  1. The servers in question are extremely tiny. The largest one in the Western Hemisphere is Skeram, a US East PvP server, who has a raiding population of.... 51. All told, the raiding population of all of the servers listed in the Western Hemisphere combined is 111.

    You'll forgive me if I think that this is a drop in the bucket compared even to the smallest server left untouched, Old Blanchy, which has a raiding population of 942.

    The problem isn't these servers that had essentially no population, but the Western Hemispheres PvE ones who are small --Old Blanchy, Bloodsail Buccaneers, Azuresong, and Myzrael, who combined don't equal the smallest of the big servers, Atiesh, for raiding population. The only one of the four who haven't lost population is Bloodsail Buccaneers, but that's because it's the only PvE RP server in the Western Hemisphere; it caters to a very small but specific crowd. The other three are down around 50% from their TBC height of August 2021, which isn't very sustainable in the long run. Those are the servers that Blizz has to address, because people will just up and leave for bigger servers one way or another if guilds can't find raiders.

    And to be fair, going to a server like Atiesh you're not only going to find raiders, but an active low level experience too. I discovered it myself yesterday, when I was stunned to see more people in Stormwind than I've seen on Myzrael since Classic.

    1. Well, I guess I didn't explicitly state it, but the other option is the joined servers like Retail does. Two or more low-pop servers are joined, and people retain their names.

      I find it interesting that Classic is trying a different approach to population than Retail took.

    2. I think the low population of TBC Classic makes it easier to do a server merge. It's not like Retail where folks are more apt to complain about loosing a character name, especially for those folks who sub/unsub in predictable cycles.

      Also, I wonder if people view Classic servers as having 'limited shelf life' and just figured merges with other Classic servers was going to happen eventually. Or even with Retail, though that's a huge can of worms Blizzard probably doesn't want to open.