Updated Thu, Jun 28, 2012 by Mem
One of the biggest problems World of Warcraft has faced over the years is low-population realms. No matter if the realm just never managed to take off population wise or if it died a slow death and players simply moved on to other more engaging realms, low-population realms are something that Blizzard just can’t seem to get rid of. To solve the problem of these low-population realms Blizzard has thrown a variety of solutions in the mix, even going as far as offering free server transfers. Mists of Pandaria will offer a brand new solution to this problem that will change the way we play.
The new solution to the problem of low-population realms mentioned above is called Cross-Realm play. Cross-Realm play will take the idea of Real ID and cross-realm raiding to the next level and will allow certain low-populated zones to exist across several realms. Players in these areas can group and trade freely with players from other realms who are also in these zones. Cross-Realm Play will not only solve the woes of low-population servers, but will also answer the prayers of low level players wishing for a partner in their adventures across Azeroth.
Now you might be thinking that Cross-Realm play isn’t that different from cross-realm raiding and you would be absolutely correct. Cross-realm raiding is just one of the many innovations in World of Warcraft that has lead us to this point and the blurring of the lines between realms may not end here. With Real ID, Battletags, cross-realm raiding and now allowing zones to stretch over several realms, it leads us to wonder what is next.
One of the most feasible next steps if Blizzard further pushes the envelope in the cross-realm envelope is the implementation of cross-realm guilds. Much like low-population servers, guilds today are struggling. With players hesitant to join up and preferring to take on the Dungeon and Raid Finder rather than spend the cash to transfer, guild leaders are desperate for fresh meat. What better way to help solve this problem than to allow players to remain on their current servers, but still play with a guild on another realm with all the benefits.
Pretty exciting stuff right? No matter how good Cross-Realm play and all its potential offspring may sound, remember, there is always some bad that goes along with the good.
It is easy to focus on only the good when it comes to something as thrilling as Cross-Realm Play, especially when considering the potential. However, Cross-Realm Play is sure to introduce some big headaches for the servers involved. For example, remember the slew of complaints over the loss of manners and overall tact we experienced when the Dungeon Finder finally spanned multiple realms? With Cross-Realm Play in Mists of Pandaria we can likely expect more of the same. As the number of players increases, the potential for some seriously bad apples increases with it.
Typically a troublesome player would be revealed to the community through public chat and or the servers forums. This player then would find themselves ostracized from the community at large. As seen when using the Dungeon and Raid Finder, things don’t work as nicely when presented with a rather nasty player. In fact in this situation your only option is to either vote to kick, ignore, or drop the group entirely. Many people have even resorted to using various mods to extend their ignore lists which of course only solves half the problem.
With Cross-Realm play being introduced we once again find ourselves in a setting where there is little to no recourse for those players determined to ruin the fun of those around them. Even worse, unlike in the Dungeon and Raid Finder you will likely see this player over and over again during your journey through the zone and even if you don’t choose to group with them you may find yourself subject to some of their unsavory antics.
While cross-realm play has a few kinks to be worked out, it is certainly a step in the right direction, especially when it comes to solving the problem of low-population servers. What cross-realm play will mean for the future of World of Warcraft remains to be seen, however, after its introduction in Mists of Pandaria, it is likely we will never think of realms and servers in the same way again. Want to know more about Cross-Realm Play in Mists of Pandaria? Be sure to check out Blizzard’s FAQ on the topic!
How do you feel about Cross-Realm Play in Mists of Pandaria? Is this but a stepping stone further blurring the lines of realms? What problems could this create? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!