Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Changing Factions in World of Warcraft

Well, it is finally in the works. Yesterday, Blizzard announced that a system which would allow players to switch from Alliance to Horde and vice-versa is in the works. Though it was made clear that this change was still early in the development cycle, that has not stopped an explosive response from the Warcraft player base. Check out the official announcement thread here.

From the sound of things, this will be a for cash service similar to server transfers rather than an in game mechanic like the Barber Shop. Though I understand Blizzard's desire to accommodate players who are isolated from their friends dueo to poor faction planning, I believe this change will do more harm than good.

Many servers currently suffer severe faction imbalances not only in terms total of population, but also in terms of the active raiding population. Though paid faction changes may not appreciably contribute to general population imbalance, it will almost certainly add to differences in active raiding populations. Currently, many hardcore players use paid server transfers to escape a server where there faction is inferior. Those who stay either simply do not want to pay for a character transfer or have no desire to abandon their server. Paid faction changes will add the latter to an already marked faction based skilled player exodus being experienced on many imbalanced servers.

Obviously there is plenty of time for Blizzard to craft its new feature to combat this unfortunate effect, but considering the transfers will be paid there is little incentive for Blizzard to burden its use. As a faction on a particular server falls further into the gutter, more players will pay for transfers which increases the profitability of the new system. With the world PvP currently being nearly non-existent and instance based PvP being based on Battle Groups, players on the overwhelmingly powerful server will have little to complain about. Hopefully this service gets canned before it is released, but considering it has already been announced I am far from optimistic.

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