Thoughts on Realm Consolidation

Discussion on server merges has been fairly quiet, which makes sense since all the details and destinations haven’t been announced yet and it may end up clearing up most of what I’m bringing up. However, there are still things I’d like to bring up and discuss, as well as some things that I feel are missing from the post that I think should be addressed.

Overall I feel that these server merges are well needed. The servers in question are pretty much completely dead and do not really serve any purpose anymore and just clutter up server lists. In my opinion this should have been done way sooner, and could have been useful to keep realms from dying and forcing people towards megaservers.
There is of course still some opportunity to use this system to keep more servers from dying going forward.

Note: I am assuming that these merges will be keeping to these rules wherever possible:

  • Same region
  • Same language
  • Same realm type (PvP->PvP etc.)

I am also assuming that it is desirable to merge these servers into servers that are not completely dead.

With all that out of the way, here are my loosely organized thoughts.

Low population servers not included

There are a few servers that are not included in the realm consolidation, but in my opinion probably should be. Mainly Razorgore(EU), Earthfury(US East), and Old Blanchy(US West). Arguably extends to (slightly) bigger servers like Ashbringer(EU) and Azuresong(US West).

These servers are low enough in population that they will likely be in the same position
as the other servers on the list in not too long without any help.
In my opinion they should likely be included in FCMs and these realm consolidations.

I also don’t believe that making these servers the destinations for the merge will really do much to help, since the servers being merged are pretty much completely dead.

Dead factions, splitting faction on merge

The lack of balanced realms leaves little to no destinations with a playable population on both factions. For most realms there is no similar realm (same region, language, and type) with a reasonable player base on both factions. This means that regardless of destination some characters will still be on a dead faction, even if the server is not.

I would suggest looking into merging the factions separately in cases where a server which works for both can not be found.

I also want to ask about the possibility of Free Character Migrations on one faction only in the cases where it is more or less completely dead, even if the other faction isn’t.
It seems at this point that there are plenty of players and characters stuck on dead factions, considering how many servers have trended toward a single faction.

SoM & Classic Era

SoM realistically only has a couple of active servers left, and could definitely use some merges as well.
For Classic Era merges probably make less sense, since they are already connected instead. I suppose there could still be some benefits to merging these servers over just keeping the connections.

Possibly they’re waiting to see how the merges go first, but this could be well used elsewhere. Especially in SoM.

For SoM & Classic Era specifically I think cross-region or international servers could be interesting. The overall populations are low enough that, at least in my opinion, the benefits start outweighing the issues.

It is possible that this would be useful in Retail as well, but I personally don’t have a good enough grasp on how the servers are set up there, especially in regards to realm connections.

Merging vs Connecting

Overall merging and connecting servers are fairly similar solutions to mostly the same problems. The main difference to me seems to be how names are handled. Either adding “-Server” to the name and allowing duplicates, or forcing duplicate names to be changed. Server merges also remove servers entirely, removing clutter and ending up with fewer realms. Connecting the realms leaves the realms “intact”, though practically the connected realms are the same.

I personally prefer merges to keep names unique and -Server out of names as well as ending up with only one server, but these ultimately end up doing very similar things.

(Up to) Two week character lock

This doesn’t affect many people on these dead servers, but could be an obstacle or issue if merging more active servers. Preferably this would be significantly lower to be more reasonably useful on servers that aren’t dead.

Allowing players to transfer manually in advance is somewhat of a workaround, but it is awkward and requires the players to find out about the merge in advance.

Random questions

These are just some things I’ve wondered about, or seen asked on the forums.
Most are more in the vein of a “I hope you have thought of this” type thing.

  • Will Guilds (& Guild Banks) transfer?
  • Who gets to keep duplicate names?
  • Same for Guild Names
  • What happens to Characters & Names on the Forums?
  • UI/Character settings? (Currently saved to the server, and has to be copied over when transferring)

I am very curious to see what peoples thoughts are. Especially regarding using Realm Consolidations on more than just already dead servers.

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I hope the mergers go well and the free transfers afterwards help get people who are stuck on critically-low pop realms to somewhere they feel they can actually play the game.

I also don’t think this topic is getting the credit it deserves for at least being a goodfaith effort to address the issues underlying the LFD debate, namely access to groups for dungeons and finding groups for leveling content. I imagine people are waiting to see how it pans out.


Hi Vay,

Thanks for the post, I’m going to do my best to respond to your thoughts and questions here.

There were several factors that went into the process to select which servers were going to be retired, but mostly we used data around the Daily Average World Population (DAW) that we track internally. There was a specific threshold that we looked at and if, over a certain period of time, a realm was under that that DAW threshold, we added that realm to the list of servers to be consolidated. A similar number threshold is also what we use to determine whether we should enable Free Character Moves off of a realm. Most of the realms you mentioned are on the lower end of the population spectrum, and may at times fall below that threshold, but at the time we decided on the list of servers to consolidate, they weren’t quite there.

Another factor that led to us not being super aggressive when it comes to consolidating all of the lower population realms has to do with the upcoming release of Wrath of the Lich King Classic. As was the case at the launch of Burning Crusade Classic, we expect a pretty significant increase in players joining or re-joining the game and we definitely want to make sure everyone who wants to play in Wrath Classic has a place to do so, preferably with multiple options in their chosen ruleset that aren’t experiencing heavy queues or are layered. While many players will choose to play on the busier servers, there are always actually a contingent of players who prefer smaller populations or are uncomfortable with layers and those individuals may not all want to be funneled to high, or even medium population realms. This certainly is not a majority of players (and I expect many people reading this to scoff at this notion :P) , but these players definitely exist and having a few, let’s say, “small town” options of realms to play on isn’t something we feel is a bad thing, especially going into an expansion launch where we expect to see a large spike of new and returning players of all stripes.

All that being said, I agree with you that we likely need to revisit Free Character Moves on additional realms that don’t have them or have had population changes in the very recent days or weeks. I’ll personally follow up on that and look at the numbers to see if any of these realms are consistently at the point where we should take that action.

As for the destinations themselves for the consolidation effort, we are still working through where exactly these realms’ remaining populations should end up, but I think its safe to say that we are unlikely to move these populations onto the realms you listed above, but rather onto realms with a much higher active population. I hope that we can lock in the details and provide more specific information on these destinations very soon.

Splitting factions during the realm consolidation effort is an interesting idea, but the process isn’t currently set up to do that, unfortunately. We’d like to do our best to match, say, a Horde dominated realm that is being consolidated to another horde dominated realm so as to negatively impact as few players as possible. However, in many cases the population on some of these realms is so low its hard to even categorize any of these realms as either Horde or Alliance dominated. At the end of the day, the best way to ensure that a player on one of these soon-to-be retired realms ends up on the best possible destination for them is for that individual to take advantage of the FCMs that are being offered right now and will be offered right up until August 9th when we kick off this process.

I think there’s a lot of merit to this suggestion, and allowing faction-specific FCMs is something we’d like to explore, but isn’t likely to be available in the near-term. As it stands now, Free Character Moves are sort of an all-or-nothing affair and while we’d prefer not to enable them on a realm with a healthy population on at least one side and potentially cause a cascade effect that causes damage to said healthy population, there are some people on the minority faction who feel left behind, and we should explore options to give them a way out if they don’t have one.

Due to the nature of Season of Mastery being a time-limited experience, and all SoM realms will eventually permanently close, combined with the the fact that we currently have FCMs available off of many low population realms there, its unlikely we will push too hard to consolidate these realms before the end of the season.

I do want to clarify that characters on the destination realms that we are consolidating characters onto will not experience any interruption in access to the characters at all. The only characters that might not be accessible for a short time are characters currently on the realms that are about to be retired.

To understand this better it’s helpful to look at this entire consolidation process as a mass FCM operation. We are basically transferring the entire remaining population of several unhealthy realms onto a single or few healthy destination realm, and the destination realms should not in any way see an interruption in access to characters already residing there.

Unfortunately no. As mentioned above, the characters being moved as a part of realm consolidation are in effect being FCM’d en masse. Guilds (and by extension guild banks) will not survive this process and should be emptied out well ahead of time.

The characters on the destination realm will retain their name and the incoming character from the other realm will be flagged for a rename.

See above. Guilds will not carry over.

This is essentially going to work the same as it currently behaves when a character is moved as part of a paid or free character move. The character that is moved will essentially be replaced on the forum with the new name (if it changed) and destination realm name where they end up.

This should all carry over just fine.

Whew… that was a lot of words. Hopefully that answers most of your questions fairly thoroughly. Thanks so much for taking the time to to bring forth some of these questions and give us the opportunity to provide a bit more insight into all of this. :slight_smile:


Wow, thanks for the amazingly detailed response! This is definitely the kind of response I know most of us appreciate :smiley:


Hey Aggrend,

Thanks a lot for the very thorough reply, it did indeed clear things up!

I definitely see the reasoning for having some smaller servers available, though I personally think some of these are likely a bit too small to be reasonable. Especially Earthfury.
I do see that there aren’t that many options left between these tiny servers and the very large ones at this point.
At the same time these realms do still have active players, many of which are likely not still there because they prefer tiny servers, and they should be able to reasonably play the game between now and Lich King as well.

A lot of this does depend on how many players actually do join or rejoin for Lich King, and then how many of those could end up on these realms.
Overall I think keeping the smaller servers around could make sense, provided they can stay alive until Lich King and that they will get FCMs or merges should they not receive a reasonable boost of players on launch.

Regarding this as well as all the name & guild related things, I don’t think there is much issue as long as the servers being merged are mostly dead, as they are on the current list.
If you at some point want to merge two or more somewhat active servers they could be more of an obstacle and would probably need some looking into. Or at least very careful consideration on which of the servers gets to be the destination.

Hopefully Lich King can bring some well needed players to these smaller servers, and thanks again for taking the time to write such a detailed response!

For sure, you might be right here, we’ll keep an eye on it.

Yeah definitely, and long term its definitely possible that we may want to undertake such a thing.

One thing I will say (and I might regret this later depending on how our first round of realm consolidation goes :P) is that we don’t actually think characters will be unavailable for two full weeks. That’s mostly a “worst case scenario”. If all goes to plan, most of these characters should experience little to no interruption in availability. It’s mostly just that performing database changes at this scale is a large and complex operation with a lot of moving parts, and as a result we want to ensure that players are aware that–if something unforseen does occur–there may be some impact to the availability of these characters. That’s why we felt it was also important to announce far ahead of time and remind players that all of these realms do have FCMs enabled to other active, healthy realms. It’s definitely preferable that players take advantage of those free moves before August 9th in order to have the most agency over where their character ends up and to avoid potential interruptions, even if the chance of that actually happening is small.