Blizzard has announced plans to close all low-population World of Warcraft realms ahead of the impending Shadowlands release later this year. All servers on the chopping block will be “fused” with more popular realms, the developers have confirmed.
The WoW developers revealed on a post in the game’s official forums that they had made the decision to “connect low-population realms to other existing realms.” The aim, they said, was to keep populations “healthy” ahead of Shadowlands.
“World of Warcraft is best when you have a community of other players,” community manager Kaivax wrote in the dev post on July 4. "While numerous ways to participate in cross-realm play have been added over the years, there are still many aspects of the experience that are realm-based."
Blizzard confirmed they would be undertaking a “comprehensive study” of all server player counts. After that, they would begin connecting the “low-pop” worlds to existing, bigger realms. The rollout is planned for the next two to three months.
For players still hard on the grind ahead of the huge Shadowlands release at the end of the year, there’s no need to worry. Blizzard is planning to make these server switches during the usual maintenance periods, they said.
“As this project unfolds, we will post notices in advance of each week's connections in appropriate regions and languages. During each maintenance period, everything will be automatically combined for the affected realms,” the devs confirmed.
“When maintenance is complete, players on affected realms will log into Battle for Azeroth and find that they're now part of a larger connected-realm community. At the same time, we'll merge the appropriate realm discussion forums.”
These Battle for Azeroth server switches should, fingers crossed, be all finished by the end of September. That means there should be a short period of stability before Shadowlands lands in World of Warcraft.
The eighth WoW expansion is currently slated to release in November this year, though at the moment it's still running in its development cycle. Blizzard confirmed it would drop in the “holiday season” during a Q1 conference call.
There’s still very little known about the next expansion; Blizzard’s reveal stream, which was set to air on June 9, was delayed until July 8 early last month. Here’s everything we already know about Shadowlands so far.