World of Warcraft to add "connected realms," Blizzard's solution to low population servers

World of Warcraft's subscription numbers may be in decline , but it still has a population that's bigger than Bulgaria. Even so, the nature of lapsed players, roaming adventurers and server emigrants means some of the MMO's servers feel particularly sparse. Now Blizzard have revealed Connected Realms - due to be introduced in Patch 5.4 - which they hope will boost world sizes without the need for server merging.

"Building on our existing cross-realm technology, a Connected Realm is a set of two or more standard realms that have been permanently and seamless 'linked.' These linked realms will behave as if they were one cohesive realm, meaning you'll be able to join the same guilds, access a single Auction House, run the same Raids and Dungeons, and join other adventurers to complete quests."

Players will be able to group together across connected servers to take on the game's "bigger challenges". As to why Blizzard are choosing this method specifically, they say: "Other alternatives such as merging realms would require us to force character name changes if there were conflicts, and could lead to confusion for returning players who'd log in to find their realm missing from the realm list. Some players also feel strong ties to their realm's name or history, and we don't want to erase that."

For specific details on the implementation of the system, you can take a look at Blizzard's Connected Realms FAQ .

Phil Savage

Phil has been writing for PC Gamer for nearly a decade, starting out as a freelance writer covering everything from free games to MMOs. He eventually joined full-time as a news writer, before moving to the magazine to review immersive sims, RPGs and Hitman games. Now he leads PC Gamer's UK team, but still sometimes finds the time to write about his ongoing obsessions with Destiny 2, GTA Online and Apex Legends. When he's not levelling up battle passes, he's checking out the latest tactics game or dipping back into Guild Wars 2. He's largely responsible for the whole Tub Geralt thing, but still isn't sorry.