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. Slowpoke is a Gamer's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Singularity View Post
    Perhaps RP realms will only phase with other RP-realms?
    Indeed. We must note they only said this is being rolled out on beta servers. Not that it's going live yet. This is a test, if the system works then we'll see information about how it'll work on live.
  1. Vook's Avatar

  1. Horrid Crow's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Greenboat View Post
    This will be terrible for RP realms. Rp outside of cities will dissapear.
    Are you serious? Or you simply didn't think 1 second before posting?
  1. Zaelsino's Avatar
    Cautiously optimistic about this. It sounds very promising, and the perfect way to breathe life into otherwise abandoned zones.
  1. Oell's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by dokhidamo View Post
    Because the complaint of people on low pop servers is "we can never find people to do things with." not "the AH is too empty."

    This makes it feasable to play a low pop server now. Plus you can make friends cross-server for your 90 content.

    And LFR 2.0? You're not forced to interact with these people. Turn off general, and don't accept group quests. Better yet, go back to your single-player RPG.
    I dont want to make friends x-realm. I want to make friends on my own server, form a community etc. Clearly you didnt play in vanilla or TBC when community actually mattered? This feature is Blizzards way to get out of a problem they put themself into, w/o even fixing it. Struggling to keep up a 10m guild on my server due the lack of people, and less then 40 people online during peak hours. And no, im not gonna pay 200 euro to move my characters, specially cause its not my fault that this happen in the first please!

    And please stop being this arrogant fan boy cause you've clearly no clue on what you're talking about!
  1. susaku's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Singularity View Post
    Perhaps RP realms will only phase with other RP-realms?
    I do hope so, I can't imagine how bad it might be if it's not done, and equally, I can't imagine how awesome it will be done like that.
  1. Ignominious's Avatar
    Holy shit, I'm genuinely surprised! and positively so, I think...!
  1. Supeer's Avatar
    I don't have social life so... I don't like it
  1. Satori's Avatar
    Sounds cool.
  1. Kelathos's Avatar
    Mind = blown

    Don't know what else to say... world PvP... yeah, that'll be something.
  1. Verain's Avatar
    1)- I'm from a pvp realm. Will I have to encounter people from pve realms who are unflagged?
    2)- I like to gank. Can I actually gank people from other servers now? Gods that would be fantastic.

    I'm assuming that the grouping will happen along server type. Auto-flagging pve realm players would be ludicrous, as would me and all my alts being perma-flagged while some dumb blueflagged orc dances around me.

    I'm hoping this isn't a zoned or level restricted thing. I definitely want to do the thing where I open on a level 30 or something with that talent that makes me not destealth, one shot him, and then vanish so I'm never even visible on his screen.

    Presumably this is what Blizzard was saying when they said they had something for low-pop realms. That's a pretty great start, but I'm definitely concerned about resources in high level zones, and I remain concerned about the VERY serious issues we have as a low pop realm finding raiders.
  1. Flimsy's Avatar
    It's amazing how the core of the game handles these new changes, the game is getting on for 8 years old yet such changed can be made, pretty incredible really.
  1. Bisso's Avatar
    Can't wait for tonight's legendary! ALOT of Tinfoil hats my friends!

    And I dare to say this is just the 1st step to a global server for each region, with every zone dynamicly instancing people in and out to have virtualy no empty or full server, just different phases with about the same amount of people on all of them. The near future is going to be awesome for WoW, that's for sure.
  1. Peeb's Avatar
    Holy shit this sounds amazing.
  1. genericsmurf's Avatar
    Coming from a technical background i'm impressed, but not surprised. When i logged into beta after the first annual pass invite wave, my first thought was: Wtf have they done to their server architecture to support that many toons in one subarea? Seems they are switching to a highly scalable cloud architecture - and one performing really well for that matter.

    This also kind of validates that MoP Beta was first and foremost a stress test for their new server-tech and was planned as such from the very beginning.

    I just don't know if i like the implications that this technology shift is giving me for the future of the game itself. On one side - it would allow to do away with sperate servers alltogether several years down the road and could potentially enable feature like housing. On the other side the concept of confinement to a certain group of people on your server to play with will be gone for good and players will need to rely on meta-systems (like facebook, real life acquaintences, etc.) to organize groups.

    For me, personally, a guy that has no facebook account and is generally pretty sensitive about his privacy on the net that's no good omen. And the oldschool-mmorpg player inside me weeps silently, too. Well at least the tech-guy-me is impressed ^^.

    Still - considering RMAH for Diablo 3, massively scalable server architecture for WoW, Bnet 2.0 features (especially connectability) and progressively advancing automation in support tasks ... my thoughs wander towards Titan, and i guess ... it won't be a game for me. *sigh* I gues i'm getting old
  1. Silvator's Avatar
    my guess would be, this is applied to all zones from levelranges 20 to 85 with realmpools similar to the battlegrounds etc.

    i dont think it will be handled dynamically.

    on a sidenote, i dont like this change. i prefer underpopulated realms for several reaons, for example you actually encounter rares regularly, you have the feeling of being THE hero and it feels more like an accomplishment to do something hard alone instead of in a group.
  1. Kaleb2482's Avatar
    this looks to me like the beginnings of moving to a mass-server where you don't chose a realm/shard/etc but get put into rooms, think champions online, DDO, star trek online, etc... (notice a trend in those games? it's comming)
  1. Farora's Avatar
    Needed change, but the nail in the coffin for realm communities.
  1. Ascius's Avatar
    Oh boy this sounds great, even if it will be something like 20 players increase in zone, I will be happy. Also this could hold a lot of potential for world PvP! Cant wait to know more about it.
  1. Ellixen's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Oell View Post
    how can you even compare this to a server merge? the auction house will still be seperate, you cant enter cities on other servers,etc. This will turn out as LFR 2.0 aka, more people acting like kids, emo raging and whining about everything. If this is the only thing that's being done with low pop realms, im quitting. CBA this anymore. I play a ORPG, not an MMORPG!

    please **** off blizzard!
    (Original statement has been rescinded because I deemed it too rude and would probably receive an infraction for it so pm me if you want to know my harsh words.)

    This is by far one of the greatest things blizz has decided to do. Will there be people who abuse the system? Of course, there are people like that already (gold spammers ect...) but as another post said, you have ways to avoid situations of people going crazy spamming general and being overall stupid.

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