Single Realm Play? Heck yeah….

The shared topic suggestion from Blog Azeroth this week is single realm play. The question, quoted verbatim from there, is:

If it were possible, would you want Blizzard to put all characters in a single realm/game world by realm type — PvP vs PvE vs RP? Why or why not?
My answer: heck yeah. I think the only downside to this is the possible lag and various technical hurdles that Blizzard has to address, but that’s not the spirit of the question. There are so many good things about single realm play that I can think of right off the bat:
  • Price uniformity. Right now, when you look at the price of, say, a certain enchant in AH in a realm, it varies wildly between servers. It is affected by several factors: the number of enchanters that have the recipe, the cost of mats (which in turn is influenced by supply and demand of mats, which also depend on other professions like tailoring etc), the demand of said enchant (which depends on the raiders and their progression level). For higher end enchants, the supply is often controlled by a handful of toons who HAVE killed the boss and have gotten the drop. You get the idea. WoW economy is a massive complex beast where if I were to draw a dependency graph, it would look so tangled that you can hide Waldo in there and can never find it. As a result, for each realm, the prices of commodities and trade goods vary wildly depending on the percentage of that realm’s population who want / have this and that material. Combining all the servers would only serve (HA!) to pool all the supply and demand forces and come up with a single point of equilibrium. Not only that, the price itself will be more uniform across time of the day. Right now there is a not-so-subtle pattern of price fluctuations from the morning till evening, and a sharp trader can actually make a lot of money off that fluctuation. But if everyone plays on the same realm, there’s gotta be someone selling and someone buying at any given time. This alone makes planning your crafting profession much easier and reliable, instead of relying blindly on the whim of the small market.
  • Economic health and stability. As an added plus, when you have such a massive market, a lot of the existing maneuvers done by AH tycoons such as price control and cartels would disappear, or at least harder to pull off. Right now it’s easy for someone with a few hundred grands to choose a commodity and corner that market. But if the market size is combined, good luck cornering that!! Everyone will be forced to compete healthily in the open market and colluding with your fellow crafters would be much harder to pull off.
  • Reputation. Right now, LFD and LFR are full of jerks. I’m one of them. When the realms are combined, you have to be careful with acting like a jerk, lest your name gets mentioned in Trade Chat for doing whatever it is that you did. There’s a reason that people actually tried hard and stayed after wipes in heroics in the days of BC and early days of Wrath. People want to be known as a good player, and they want to gain realm reputation. They want the invites, and they want to be able to apply to guilds without being turned down because “one of our officers played with you on heroics and….”
  • Speaking of which, guild recruitment and raiding PUGs will be healthier. There will be more of them, and each one would progress better. There’s a larger pool of players to recruit from, and each player can find the guilds that fit them the best. No more of “I play here because of friends but what I really want is that guild in that server”
  • Which, in turn, would mean less alts for people on average. There will always be altoholics like myself, but some people I know create alts on different servers just to be able to play with their RL friends. If they can play with friends and keep that one character, that character will be much more progressed. This issue partly has been addressed by the ability to group and LFD with cross-realm battle net friends. Note to self: write something about cross-faction grouping.

Now, I lied when I said that there’s no downside to single realm play. There are, of course, but they are pretty minor in my opinion. I’ll mention some of the big ones:

  • No more cornering of markets. For some of us, this is how we make a living.
  • Trade Chat. Actually, Barrens Chat. No scratch that. All zones will be like Barrens Chat if this were to happen. The combined power of the trolls would so dominate the chat channels all around Azeroth. But really, do we need trade chat anymore now that the AH is stable?
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