No, It Isn’t April Fools – This is July
It has finally happened, people. The planets have aligned, pigs are flying, and Columbus just came back from the dead and changed his mind – the Earth is, in fact, now flat.
In all seriousness, though, did you ever think you would see the day? It may just be coming in our WoW-lifetimes. Still don’t know what I’m talking about? Read the title again. Yup, it still says the same thing. World of Warcraft Faction Change Feature Announced. I still remember back when paid server transfers were opened up, all those years ago. We thought it was a miracle, then, too. More recently the option to change the gender of your WoW character was implemented, along with the in-game barbershop to alter certain physical characteristics. And, even with all of these stepping stones being layed down, most of us never expected it to eventually bridge the gap to allow players to actually switch their faction.
Regardless of we all thought, and in fact, against everything we’ve been told for years, this really is happening. Horde players are going to be able to change their character into an Alliance one. Alliance players are going to be able to change their character into a Horde one. No longer will you have decked out toons sitting idle because you happened to switch factions. For myself, with three 80’s on Alliance and two on Horde, this will be a dream come true.
Or Will It?
Skipping the fact that implementing this feature is going to be incredibly complex, do "we", the WoW community, really want it? On the plus side, it’s going to provide us with the opportunity to play currently dormant characters, or to reunite with friends who happen to be sitting on the other side of the faction gap. But what about the down side? As an example, a server I used to play on is currently sporting an 80% Horde population because of paid server transfers. Because it just so happens to be a haven for Horde PvE progression every Horde player wants to migrate there. Because it happens to be a horrible place to try to play, or level, an Alliance character (being a PvP server where Alliance is outnumbered 5:1) all of the Alliance players are gradually migrating off. Is Blizzard doing anything to solve this relatively simple problem? No, because as long as you pay your $25 they’re happy.
It worries me that with more "paid" player freedoms being implemented that server balances are going to become even more skewed. While "they" claim they’re going to do everything in their power to prevent those kinds of situations, I’m pretty sure I heard the same promise back when paid transfers were first implemented. I’m not sure I want to play on a server where I’m outnumbered 5:1 again, or worse yet, one where I’m part of the 5, and not the 1.
Enough of Your Opinion, Get to the Details
The fact is not a whole lot has been divulged about how, or when, all this is going to take place. Here is the official communique from Nethaera. In it she openly acknowledges that this is an "early heads up" – meaning we may not see this implemented for awhile. She also tries to assure us that it "won’t disrupt the gameplay experience on the realms" – though I am not so convinced.
A lot of players responded to the initial message – some positive, some negative. Others simply had questions – which were answered in an addendum a few days later. Some of these questions are:
Will this service include the opportunity for players to change the race of their existing character, but within the same faction?
Going hand in hand with that question was this:
If someone switches to Horde, then switches back to Alliance, will they be able to select a different race than they’re original Alliance character?
Much to the dismay of hundreds of players, self included, the answer to both questions was a resounding "No". In response to other questions, like how much it will cost, how they will maintain faction balance, how often you’ll be able to change, etc, their only comment was that more details would be released at a later date – One that we are anxiously awaiting.