It's no secret that World of Warcraft has lost almost half of its peak subscriber base, now sitting below 8 million active accounts. It is a surprise that there's yet to be an outcry for server mergers in the playerbase. Nevertheless, it's high time for some server consolidation. Blizzard, however, recognizes just how much of a bad word server mergers are and so they've created something better, something with positive spin: Connected Realms.
Essentially, Connected Realms works like the existing dungeon cross-realm tech except for full servers:
"In Patch 5.4, we’re looking to address this with a new feature called Connected Realms. 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."
What does this mean for the average player? Don't worry too much, as Connected Realms will still be matched in theme -- PvP, PvE, etc -- and will be entirely seamless. There may even be more than two Realms connected, though Blizzard is still in the process of deciding which Realms need to be connected. The goal is to improve activity on all servers, so that should be good for everyone!
What does this really mean? It means Blizzard is consolidating servers without having to actually get rid of any servers or transfer portions of their playerbase. Technically, this is probably a more complicated and server intensive way of doing it, but it will hopefully result in a better experience overall. Think about it, you get to stay on your home server, but suddenly there's people around to do things with. All without any effort on your part.
World of Warcraft isn't going anywhere. Anyone who smirks at 8 million subscribers is a silly goose. Silly goose! Here Blizzard is continuing to make all the right moves, even in the shadow of their game's lifeline.