You may have heard that Blizzard planned to roll out some changes to the Real ID system to allow you to group with your friends from other servers. Ignoring the whole debate about whether this should be a paid service or not – I am so freaking happy about these changes! I can’t even tell you.
Since beginning to blog in late 2009, I’ve met a number of folks I’d love to play with – always on other servers, of course. Sometimes I even went so far as to roll alts on their servers to hang out, and I’ve moved characters too (especially Horde). In the time that I’ve been playing, I:
-Made my draenei shaman a troll shaman
-Moved her to a friend’s server
-Made my troll shaman a draenei again
-Moved her back to my server
-Leveled a troll mage on a friend’s server
-Made my troll mage a draenei
-Moved her to another friend’s server
-Took a spare Horde shaman I had and made her a draenei
-Moved her to a friend’s server
Do you see a trend here? By the way, if anyone adds up the total cost of those transfers and changes and posts it in the comments I will be miffed at you. I live in a blissfully happy world where I don’t think about how much money I’ve spent on this kind of thing. La la la la I can’t hear you…
Actually, no. Let’s do it. Let’s face that number. That’s nine changes, I think they all cost $25 USD. That’s two hundred and twenty-five dollars I have basically wasted with my indecisive attempts to spend time with friends. It’s a lot of money! But let’s take a closer look at my reasons for doing it. I wanted to have a Horde character. I wanted to have a Horde character on a friend’s server (two different friends, one of whom stopped playing, thus the extra transfer). Then I wanted to have an Alliance character to help out some other friends, on another server. That’s a pretty strong trend here. I wasn’t just doing this on a whim, it was because I wanted to hang out with people who don’t live on my server.
The problems I encountered while leveling alts on other servers are numerous. When my friends weren’t around I was bored or lonely because I didn’t know enough people there. LFD was demoralizing. I couldn’t manage to make money (some servers have an odd economy). I didn’t have access to the resources I ordinarily would and so everything was a struggle. Sometimes that kind of adversity can be fun, but mostly it’s frustrating to me. I don’t want to make a huge venture out of becoming self-sufficient on a secondary server when I spend plenty of time playing and working on my main characters already. We all have a limited amount of WoW time.
So I look at it this way. Should the Real ID grouping feature be a premium, paid service? Obviously, I’d like it if it wasn’t. It’d be nice if it was just included with your subscription. But even if it costs $5 a month (and I think they’re talking about more $3-$4), it would take 45 months of paying for it before I’d equal the amount I’ve spent on server and faction changes. That’s almost four years worth of premium subscription. What is my time worth to me? Because this way, to hang out with Horde friends and run a dungeon, I can level a character on my home server. With access to heirloom items from head-to-toe, the time commitment is much less. I can run a leisurely dungeon with my Horde friends if I feel like doing that.
Or like we did last night, I can invite a friend from another server to finish off a five-man. That screenshot above is from a ZG I ran with three guildies and my good paladin friend, Walks. I know he thinks I’m crazy because I kept enthusing the whole time. “I’m so happy about doing this! I’m so happy you’re here!” I’m serious, too! It’s as if we were “meeting” for the first time. We’ve chatted and been friends for ages but we’ve never once been able to do anything together other than chat. This new feature changes that completely. It basically means the end of LFD for me if I can help it. All of the awesome WoW folks I’ve gotten to know can now get together and do a dungeon together! (If they happen to be playing the right faction, anyhow, but “cross faction Real ID grouping” is a whole other can of worms).
This basically makes it so that all of our guilds suddenly got a bit larger, a bit more flexible. Server-transferring to join another guild? You can still hang out with your friends from your old guild and run a five-man from time-to-time and keep in touch. Don’t want to deal with LFD? Perhaps you have a friend on another server who is just farming herbs and would love to join you and your guildies. Or maybe they need one more person for their own run! Whichever way you look at it, if you use Real ID and have any friends on your list, the Warcraft universe just got a bit smaller (or larger). In case this wasn’t clear, I’m thrilled about it, and it’s a fantastic change for me. Being in a smaller guild, there aren’t always a ton of people online depending on the day and time of day. Sometimes I play at odd hours and would still like to run a dungeon. This is going to be game-changing as far as I’m concerned. I’m also of the opinion that Real ID raid grouping isn’t too far behind, but I could be wrong, hopefully BGs too! If the social aspect of Warcraft is what keeps you playing, make no mistake – this is huge for you.
It’s a feature that is worth its weight in gold to me, too. I’ll happily pay $5 a month to spend time with my friends from different servers. It’s much better than $225, and getting to play with folks I’ve never been able to really play with before? You can’t put a price on that as far as I’m concerned!