Update: Clarification about realm grouping, initial zones, and zone splitting added.

Cross-Realm Zones Coming to Beta
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
In the World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria beta, we’re introducing a new technology that will enable players to meet up and group with other players in under populated areas of the world such as low level zones or areas that other players may have outleveled or moved on from. This technology will allow players to form a group with other players from within a select pool of realms in order to quest just like they normally would while still allowing the social structures of their home realms to remain intact.

During the initial phase of testing we will be sharing the following zones between the available beta realms: Northern Barrens, Ashenvale, Azshara, Darkshore, Westfall, and Silithus. We are also able to split over-populated zones and will be testing this new technology on the Pandaren starting area (turtle zone).

For beta testing purposes, we will be matching up all realm types whether they are PvP or PvE. This is different than what we plan to do for the live realms, however. For the live realms we will be matching realm types: PvP with PvP, PvE with PvE, RP-PvP with RP-PvP, and RP-PvE with RP-PvE. As always, we plan to keep an eye on constructive feedback while in testing of this new technology.


Q. Why cross-realm zones?
For many years now, the significant majority of the player population online at any given time has consisted mostly of characters at or near the level cap. This has resulted in an environment where characters that are leveling up experience a world that has fewer other players to interact with than what the world was designed for. Cross-realm zones give us the capability to ensure that level-up zones retain a population size that feels more like the high level areas of the game, leading to a more fun play experience for characters of all levels.

Q. How do cross-realm zones work?
When you’re in a zone that is set as a ‘cross-realm zone’ you’ll notice that in addition to the players you’d ordinarily see from your realm, you’ll also see (and be able to play with) players from other realms. This will happen seamlessly, and players will be able to group and quest as they normally would with players from their own realm.

Q. How will this work on boats or zeppelins?

Usually transitions will occur on area boundaries (think moving from Darkshore to Ashenvale).

Q. Can I form groups with the people I meet in the zone?
Yes! You can group and talk to others within the cross-server zone normally though trading will be restricted much as it is within raids, dungeons, or battlegrounds.

Q. Will my cross-realm group be disbanded if we move on to an adjacent zone together, like from Goldshire to Westfall or from Thousand Needles to Feralas?
Much like how cross-realm groups currently work, your party won’t be disbanded when you move through different zones, though if you’re not in the same home realm, you won’t be able to see each other if you’re in separate zone instances.

Q. Will I be able to group with my friends?
Yes, you will be able to group with your Real ID friends, provided they are within the same faction. The functionality works the same as it does for cross-realm dungeons, raids, or Battlegrounds.

Q. What level range do my friends and I have to be within in order to group?
There is no restriction on level ranges. You’ll be able to group with anyone you would normally be able to.

Q. Can I go into main capital cities while grouped with others?
Capital cities and areas with regularly high populations will not be set as cross-server areas/zones so you will not be able to enter into the same instance of a city as someone who is from a different realm.

Q. Will I be able to trade with others I meet?
Trading restrictions are in place much the same as they are in cross-realm dungeons, raids, and battlegrounds.

Q. How is group loot handled?
Group looting will function the same as it would with any group you would create through normal play.

Q. Who will I be playing with?
You’ll be able to interact with players from within a select pool of realms which will make it possible to run into a player in Redridge that you already ran into within Westfall.

Q. What areas will be shared?
This can vary from realm to realm and relies on how densely populated (or underpopulated) an area is. Capital cities and areas with regularly high populations will not be eligible for area sharing.

Q. What about resources or gathering nodes, will those be shared too?
Resources and nodes will be available to all parties within the shared area the same as always. We will be keeping a close eye on the impact of area sharing and should an area become too populated, we are capable of adjusting how many realms are able to connect to a shared area.

Q. Does this mean that Auction Houses will be merged?

No, when any player access an Auction House, they will be only able to access their home realm’s Auction House.

Q. What about zones that are already overpopulated, like new race starting zones?

With this technology, we can also flag zones to allow for more than one copy of that zone per realm. Players on that realm will be split among those copies in order to alleviate problems due to overpopulation. Players won’t normally see or interact with those on a different instance of their zone, although joining a party will relocate all party members to a single instance of that zone.

Q. How will this work for PvP vs. PvE realms? Will these realm types be shared?
No. Realm types will be matched with like realm types. So if you’re on a PvE realm, you’ll only be matched with other PvE realms. The same rules will apply for matching RP realm types and will be restricted to matching RP-PvP with RP-PvP and RP-PvE with RP-PvE. We plan to keep an eye on constructive feedback while testing this new technology.

Q. How will RID groups work? Which realm type would we play on?
If you group up with somebody from a different rule type (via RealID for example) and go into a cross-realm zone you’ll be on the ruleset for that player’s realm type. So, if you’re on a PvP realm and a friend joins your group from a PvE realm and enters a cross-realm zone, the group will be in one of the PvP realm clusters and will use the PvP realm ruleset.

Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Q: I really don't see any reason to group with others when everything is so easy to do at the lower levels. All these other people will be doing is killing my mobs and taking my resources.
The game is specifically designed with variable respawns, and huge influxes of players on launches. Having very few people in a zone is actually not what the game is supposed to be.

Q: Will be have to zone to every zone from now on then?
No, it's as seamless as it is today.
This article was originally published in forum thread: Cross-Realm Zones Coming to Beta started by chaud View original post
Comments 597 Comments
  1. MasterYi's Avatar
    I don't know if this has been asked already but...

    Can we GANK cross-realm enemy faction players? If so, time to level up my rogue!
  1. Rukh's Avatar
    But they're totally not merging servers in any way.
  1. Masterpd85's Avatar
    I feel sorry for the cross-realm zones that will be 90% horde/alliance and 10% the other... as well as the zones with lvl 90s "helping" their friends lvl.
  1. Mister K's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Masterpd85 View Post
    I feel sorry for the cross-realm zones that will be 90% horde/alliance and 10% the other... as well as the zones with lvl 90s "helping" their friends lvl.
    There may be systems to prevent this, its called phasing.
  1. shell's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by kays View Post
    oh god terrible idea is terrible, this should be called you'll never finish a kill quest again!
    I don't understand this comment or the similar ones that have popped up throughout this thread. I can personally tell you from playing on Tichondrius and Proudmoore (two of the most populated servers in the US) that I've NEVER had an issue killing anything because there were too many other players around. Tens of thousands of players play on these servers and its never been an issue. It's because we're all spread out doing our own thing in different parts of the world. There's not, for example, a thousand of us in Hellfire Peninsula trying to gather up all the tainted hellboar meat we can get our hands on. It doesn't work that way.
  1. Atomisk's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Masterpd85 View Post
    I feel sorry for the cross-realm zones that will be 90% horde/alliance and 10% the other... as well as the zones with lvl 90s "helping" their friends lvl.
    Sounds like the exciting MMO i grew up with 7 years ago. Im all for this.
  1. huldu's Avatar
    Well you will be able to play on "your" server zone if you select it, but by default everyone will play in the new cross-realm zone. If you're getting ganked or whatever just select your own server zone in the drop-down and enjoy being alone in the zone.
  1. Befizzled's Avatar
    Who asked these questions? they are so dumb
  1. Kickbuttmario's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Rorcanna View Post
    Tons of games do some stuff better than Blizzard's games tbf, so people angry over that can be put in the same box as the GW2 ravers ;d.
    Not necessarily, I only brought it up because people thought it was a revolution, or it was the other mmos that copied wow first. So their ignorance taught me off and I had to tell them that GW2 probably thought of this first (never heard of any other mmo doing this).
  1. Draknalor186's Avatar
    so does this mean that there could be 10+ 90's per zone just waiting too gank?
  1. Dyptheria's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by kazso View Post
    I guess you missed the point. If the low level zones will be instanced, then ALL players in that instance will share the resources (ores, herbs, loots), thus it will be more time consuming to actually farm anything. Naturally the prices will go higher because of this.
    To solve this problem, Blizzard should do one of these 2 things:
    1. Players should be able to manually exit/enter these instanced zones.
    2. AH's should be cross-realm as well.
    Ahh, I see what you're saying. You may be right, but don't forget that not every zone will be instanced, only the empty ones (which basically means the lowbie ones). I wouldn't be too concerned about escalated copper ore prices.

    As for merging the Auction Houses...that would be an instant disaster. Prices would drop through the floor. Merging the neutral AHs might work though...
  1. Mazaxist's Avatar
    duel cross realms? this is epic ;D
  1. Mephismo's Avatar
    Great idea
  1. Insanoflex's Avatar
    so if someone is ganking low lvl people, and one of them gets fed up and switches to their main.. they might not be able to get into that "zone" and even if they try and create a party with someone from that "zone" they will probably go to some neutral area.. Really hope this wont be the case.
  1. xensorlol's Avatar
    Total bullshit.
    They are just fucking up this game one change after another.
    Don't get me wrong; I absolutely LOVE WoW. It's my favourite thing. Unfortunately, I will never play this game any more, as Blizzard is slowly just destroying it.
    Correction: I won't actually PLAY this game like this. No, I play on a Private Vanilla WoW server. At least I actually have to work for my shit. At least Blizzard's making a game perfect for all those seven-year-old QQers out there.
  1. sethman75's Avatar
    What a retarded idea.

    I'm on a low-mid server for a reason and that is because i like to quest solo and enjoy the experience.

    What's going to happen when 100 people want to do the same solo quest?? A waiting line for a respawn, bloody brilliant Blizz because i love to wait in my very limited game time.

    This also makes professions far more annoying. What happens with all the gathering nodes?? Is it open season for all servers??

    All i see is FAR more negatives the positives. Stupid move
  1. Cows For Life's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by beanman12345 View Post
    How will it make leveling "cooler?" grouping for quests severly gimps xp gains, and makes quests take longer because more people need drops from mobs. And it'll make leveling a gathering profession near impossible.
    Details, details.

    ---------- Post added 2012-05-22 at 05:44 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by gurv View Post
    Fortunately I'm not on a low pop realm, but I can understand him.
    I have all ten classes at level 80+ (6 at 85) and I'd never pay Blizzard 200 € to fix something that's their responsibility.
    Nor would I want to level all these characters again.
    Eventually they'll have to do something about those low pop servers or it will come bite them.
    I think from the perspective of that guy who says its the other guys own fault for not transferring thinks dropping $150-200 is nothing.

    ---------- Post added 2012-05-22 at 05:54 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Herecius View Post
    Remember it would go both ways, though; there might be more of an opposite faction in a zone, but there will also be more of your faction.
    Hahaha. Good one. Let's see if they even bother balancing anything at all.

    ---------- Post added 2012-05-22 at 05:58 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Atrea View Post
    It's essentially load-balancing; so that overpopulated areas, even on the same server, can spawn multiple 'instances' of themselves.
    So if you are on a high-pop server, and you are trying to create a Pandaren on MoP launch day, you won't have to contend with your entire server all at once.

    This is sheer genius, and it has a lot of plus sides.

    It'll revitalize world PvP, because people from other servers can all get together seamlessly. On a PvP server, this will serve to populate areas that might otherwise not have much traffic.
    It'd be so like Blizzard to "spawn" an instance of a zone with 100 Alliance and 20 Horde (example numbers) and then the zone reaches its "limit" then spawns a new instance with 100 Horde and 20 Alliance.

    ---------- Post added 2012-05-22 at 06:05 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Iceleaf View Post
    2) All I ever gotten from people in same area was f****** stupid general chat, mob stealing and people who decided to farm nodes under my nose with 310 when I was lvl 12 =P

    3) They are not going to talk to you anyway. People generally are very anti-social or silent. You could either spend time asking for help on dailies for hour or just do the damn dailies in hour ;P
    Regarding #2 I noticed channels in Outlands were strictly limited to requests for group quest help. Barrens chat is not something I think many sane people would want returning.

    ---------- Post added 2012-05-22 at 06:18 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Simca View Post
    Their options are really something like this:
    4. Prevent new Horde characters and/or accounts from creating characters (not possible because of the qq it will cause by separating people from their friends)
    They should have from the start. Remove any incentives for going to a realm strictly for a faction numbers advantage. But Blizzard has been screwing this up for at least 3 years.

    ---------- Post added 2012-05-22 at 06:35 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by ganush View Post
    However, this does little to address the bigger issue of dying realms, which there are lots of. Players on those realms will eventually be forced into a decision between realm transfer fees or just quitting if Blizzard doesn't find a solution for them. I'm on a dying server myself and if it comes down to transferring being the only way I'll be able to enjoy the full game the way I want, I will quit rather than send Blizzard the transfer fee.
    I made that decision at the end of WOTLK. I chose to quit.

    I understand the server is much worse off today. What was 1.5:1 in the middle of last expansion has turned into almost 6:1 (from 3:1 just 6 months ago).

    I have no confidence in their server management.

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