Breakfast Topic: How realms evolve (or don't)

While writing a recent news post on Blizzard's decision to open free transfers to Drak'thul, I nosed around the server's forums to see what the inhabitants thought of the coming flood. As a server that was converted from a PvP to PvE realm, opened to transfers, and listed as a Recommend realm to boot, Drak'thul's undergone a fairly drastic set of changes, and all within a short period of time.

As you'd expect, player feelings on the subject were mixed, but there was one former Drak'thul player who really got my attention. Drak'thul, he/she claimed, had been home to some of "the most mean-spirited PvP (he'd) ever experienced on ANY realm." It sounded like a tall claim, but there are a lot of other threads on the forum with oblique confirmations; players recall Alliance towns and quest NPCs "being camped 24/7," and holiday events and Alliance leveling zones being swarmed by opportunistic Horde players. Drak'thul became a low-pop server with a murderous faction imbalance -- Warcraft Realms listed the server's active population as 94% Horde before transfers were opened -- and I wonder how much of that be traced to the relentless ganking and camping campaigns three years ago.

I look at realms like Cho'gall with equally crushing faction imbalances, some of which started out with fairly balanced faction ratios, and wonder -- how the hell does this happen? What spurs the departure of so many players from a specific faction? Is it really that simple as a relatively small number of players exercising such an impact on what happens to everyone on the server?

This article was originally published on WoW Insider.