Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Connected Realms: Is Blizzard "Illidan" Prepared?

Yesterday, in a discussion amongst my fellow Feathermooninites about Blizzard's upcoming Connected Realms feature and what it means for our realm, my friend and former raid leader linked to the Realm Pop website that gathers and analyzes data to attempt to create a census of the various different World of Warcraft realms. It's a pretty nifty site, and it starkly shows why a feature such as Connected Realms is so desperately needed when you compare the most character-heavy realm in the North American server set (Tichondrius, which has ~235,000 characters) to the least populated one (Chromaggus, which has only ~16,000 characters).

Judging by population numbers alone, it seems unlikely that my realm of Feathermoon will undergo connection to another realm, since it's solidly a medium-population realm that is within the top 20% of realms in terms of character population. However, realm population isn't necessarily the only consideration for Connected Realms. According to Blizzard's mini-FAQ (underline mine):

Q. Which realms will be connected as Connected Realms?
A. We haven’t decided yet which realms will be made part of a Connected Realm, or which other realms they’ll be connected to, though realms will only be connected to other realms of the same type (e.g. PvE to PvE, PvP to PvP, RP to RP). In the end, we’re considering a number of factors, including Battlegroup, population, and faction balance.

The faction balance portion of that statement is relevant, because it brings up the Illidan problem. Illidan is the second most populous realm with ~213,000 characters, but is also the second most faction-skewed realm with Horde characters comprising a full ~200,000 of that ~213,000 total (a ~15 Horde : 1 Alliance character ratio). So, what does Blizzard do in this case? Does Blizzard decide to ignore Illidan's extreme faction imbalance when it comes to connecting realms, or does Blizzard connect Illidan to one (or, likely, more) Alliance-heavy realms to mitigate the difference?

If Blizzard decides to use this opportunity of creating Connected Realms to try to solve Illidan's faction woes, then I'd expect Blizzard to aim for at least ~350,000 characters or so for Illidan's Connected Realm cluster, which is significantly larger than the previously-mentioned Tichondrius' ~235,000 characters. In such a scenario, this would mean that if Connected Realms are to be made roughly similar in size, then every realm will have to be a part of a Connected Realm.

I'm interested in seeing how Blizzard will decide to handle the Illidan issue - and if Illidan players will bombard Blizzard with "You were not prepared!" memes if Blizzard chooses not to address the faction imbalance with Connected Realms.


  1. I bet if they do use Connected Realms to address population imbalance, they'll see a lot of people complaining about how they liked outnumbering the other faction 3 to 1 because it let them gank without being ganked back.

    1. Oh, I don't doubt at all that that complaint will inevitably crop up. However, there's still a pretty major gap between a 3:1 advantage and some of the more skewed realms. Illidan's 15:1 ratio or Mal'Ganis' 20:1 ratio (both Horde-favored; for Alliance there's Stormrage with a 12:1 ratio) are just absurd.

      That said, I also recognize that the actual ratios of players are probably a lot closer than the ratio of characters. I get the feeling that Horde players on Illidan and Mal'Ganis (both PvP realms) can roll alts with impunity whereas Alliance players on those realms probably aren't so enthused about the prospect.

      Besides, given all the complaints made to Blizzard about how Mists of Pandaria's "go out into the world" philosophy has undesirably caused PvP to happen on PvP realms (/boggle), and how Cross-Realm Zones have taken away the "advantage" of low population realms (no competition for rare spawns), I don't think Blizzard will find the ganking argument too compelling.