Blizzard has confirmed plans to merge its less-populated World of Warcraft servers with more populated ones.
In a post on the official forums, the team said the decision to "connect the low-population realms to other existing realms" will give players more opportunities without having to shell out for server transfers.
"World of Warcraft is best when you have a community of other players around you, and while numerous ways to participate in cross-realm play have been added to the game over the years, there are still many aspects of the experience that are realm-based," wrote community manager, Kaivax (thanks, PC Gamer). "From your history with your guild to your interactions with the economy around you, a realm with a healthy population provides more opportunities, and it's been several years since we last connected some realms."
The post goes on to confirm that following a "comprehensive study of realm populations for every realm in the world", the developer will "connect the low-population realms to other existing realms" over the next two-three months "until we've connected every low-population realm in every region to a substantially larger population of players".
"As this project unfolds, we will post notices in advance of each week's connections in the appropriate regions and languages," Blizzard added. "During each maintenance period, everything will be automatically combined for the affected realms. 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."
As the changes will occur during scheduled maintenance, players should not be further inconvenienced by the mergers.
In related news, Blizzard recently banned 74,000 World of Warcraft Classic botters, but admitted it faces an uphill challenge in fending off cheaters.