The last Community Blog Topic discussed what features we wish WoW had. Many people had wishes that would be solutions for the current low population server problem. Mine was to have one free character transfer per month. Others suggested that realms be merged and there was also much talk about making WoW one giant server.
Many pointed out that my idea of free transfers would help people leave low pop realms, but everyone might move to the same popular realms that already have queues. Leaving it up to each individual player might be too haphazard a way to handle it. But there is a certain appeal to letting people chose where they want to move their characters. Perhaps the highest population servers would not be available for free transfers.
What about merging servers? One of the main problems is perception. If Blizzard decides to save low pop servers by merging them, they will be admitting two things: that Cross Realm Zones aren't working for what they're trying to do and that subscriptions are so low they have to adjust the realms accordingly. Merging servers would definitely hype up "the sky is falling" mentality.
What if Blizzard put us all together on one big server? This would be a major change, but wouldn't necessarily mean that WoW's decline is inevitable. It would mean a new direction for how they view massively multiplayer. Of course, we all couldn't be in the same zone at the same time, but games like City of Heroes and Star Wars: The Old Republic instanced zones just for that purpose.
The way it would work, if done the same way as those games, is that once too many people fill Orgrimmar-1, Orgrimmar-2 through whatever would be created. You could still talk to your friends in another instance, but you couldn't see them unless one of you requested to change instances from a simple drop-down menu option. It worked well for the populations on those game's servers, but World of Warcraft's millions might be too much for that to work. I really don't know.
A problem with both merging servers and having just one enormous server would be names. We get very attached to our character names and would like to keep them even when moving. One way that this could be accomplished would be the addition of surnames. So my goblin mage could be Tizzi Sparklepants and therefore be able to keep her name even if there are many other Tizzis out there.
I like CRZ because I do feel like I'm in a multiplayer game when I'm having to fight for the same quest mobs while leveling instead of being all by my lonesome. But it doesn't solve poor local economies and it doesn't promote local communities. Merging servers, if done properly, would help both. But what about CRZ AHs and/or CRZ guilds. Perhaps that would solve low pop problems without having to lose server identity and still have room for returning subscribers.
Should Blizzard merge servers in order to get rid of empty servers? Or is there another solution? Would it be better to merge them all into one big server? How should that be handled? Or should servers just be left as they are and let CRZ work its magic -- if you can call it that?
Blog about your answer and post a link in the comments below. Or if you don't have a WoW-related blog, just leave a comment with your response.