I’m sure I’m missing something obvious, but I don’t see a better way to respond to State of TBC Servers than to just create my own topic.
When the linked topic was created, I was really hopeful. I posted some thoughts on reddit, but figured it might be better to put them here, and revise them a tad.
As I see it, there are 3 main issues with an imbalanced population:
- World interactions (farming, PvP, etc.)
One main theme I see from Blizzard over the years is allowing players to have a choice. Whenever someone brings up a solution, or a problem for a solution (like naming issues when merging servers), I see many argue that ‘no one cares about names’ or the same about wPvP, or whatnot. The truth is, many do care. It is not a good idea to remove the option from those that do care. So the best solution will probably involve the most reasonable amount of freedom/choice for the player. I don’t see a singular solution solving all the issues players are having with the current state of things. So, I have a 3-part solution.
The first part is Free Character Moves (FCM) with little to no limitations. Aggrend mentioned that according to data, moves generally occur with players going to the majority side of a server, not leaving a majority and going to a minority. There are a number of reasons for this, one of which is that free transfers are rare and restricted enough that a player likely won’t risk going to the minority faction. If the FCMs were only limited to a week cooldown, for example, then I imagine you’d see more people willing to give it a shot. Still, not enough to solve the issue in and of itself. In fact, this solution by itself would likely cause servers to become one-sided within a week. But, this solution, along with the next two, allows players an option to try out different environments. Aggrend’s point about the 60%-40% imbalance, allowing the 20% to leave hurts the rest of the server - it’s likely that the 20% will pay to transfer or stop playing, hurting the server anyway. FCM would just make the process faster, but less damaging in that the rest of the server isn’t stuck there either.
The second part is to allow cross server groups in instances only. Full cross servers could be good, but some like quiet servers. Also, FCM allow people to go to a full server if they want it. But even those that like a quiet leveling experience, will generally want to find groups for instances. The LFG tool could have an additional option to list all players, or just those on your server. This way, server communities will be there for those that prefer it (more or less), but those that want to actually do dungeons while leveling can as well. Perhaps summons would be a little wonky, that would be something to figure out.
And the third part is cross server AH. The economy of a server is tied to a number of things, but what if size of a server did not have such a large impact? Smaller servers would become better for farming, larger servers perhaps would be better for GDKP runs (though a good implementation of cross server groups would negate this). A cross server AH could cause issues with farmers invading smaller servers just for farming, which would negatively impact those that choose to reside on small servers. However, with FCMs enabled, server economies could be quite impacted anyway. Better bot detection would be very needed, even more than it is currently.
Every solution will impact these three aspects of the game differently. I feel that having all three of these solutions would eventually result in the best outcome. There will still be some that won’t be satisfied, but I think the increase in satisfaction due to freedom/choice would be more than the dissatisfaction with the changes to server communities (especially since server communities are already being negatively affected due to paid character transfers). I’ve been on two servers that have ‘died’ thus far, having leveled on both during high and low population times. I hope my thoughts are helpful.