So unless you live under a rock or completely avoid WoW news like the plague, you’ve no doubt heard by now that Blizzard is working on a service to switch your faction. You’ll only be able to switch to a race that can be your existing class, but it’s still huge as it’s something that’s been asked for for a long time by a portion of the population who wishes that they had chosen Horde the first time through (I’m confident that no one wishes they had chosen Alliance). Though I’m sure that there are some crazy Horde traitors out there that will pay the fee and presumably will log on one day to find an unfamiliar mug leering at them with that creepy come-hither stare that all the Alliance seem to have.
But heavy breathing and overbites aside, I’m beginning to wonder on the feasibility of this plan that Blizzard has for multiple reasons, not the least of which is the logistics of it all. Some things will most likely be easy, such as having your reputation switched to their comparable Alliance counterparts. Others I seem to wonder at, such as vanity pets, tabards, achievements and the sheer number of little nuances that give away your faction. Will the new switchers get to keep the vanity pets that are only available to the old faction, causing shouts of “unfair!” from the collectors who have spent an inordinate amount of time running around to collect them all?
And of course, you have the tabards that are only available to Blood Elf paladins and the one that’s for Draenei only, both introduced in BC. Will those tabards be switched to something similar on the opposite side or do these new converts get to keep them and fulfill their collection, which can only happen if one switches faction at some point? Or will you simply lose faction specific items, never to be seen again unless you switch back, at witch point you’ll lose a whole other swath of pets, items or mounts that you spent time working on. Either way, you’ll either upset those who do switch or those who don’t, making the whole thing a double edged sword.
But aside from the complexities and politics of switching faction specific items and achievements, there’s also the possibility of further unbalancing servers that have a heavy population leaning in one direction or the other. Imagine a PvP server where the ratio of Alliance v Horde is about 3 to 1, a not so unusual happenstance. Once faction transfers go live, you start to see people on Horde side bleed off because they’re just getting sick to death of being ganked a jillion times while running through anywhere that’s not a city or backwater. This will slowly cause Horde ranks to shrink, further diminishing any tiny advantage or hope the Horde may have on that server, such as owning Wintergrasp and being able to farm Vault.
So what’s the solution in that case? Do you offer free switches back? Maybe free server transfers for one faction only would be more in line? Or will it just have to be that the server population is irrevocably broken on that particular server, effectively owned by one side or the other? When you’re in a situation like that, there is no effective quick fix and the fact is that Blizzard’s whole game almost relies on there being an opposite faction. World and battleground PvP, which are two huge parts of the game for casuals who like to raise some dust, would become non-existent or a hassle if one side had such a huge advantage. Imagine waiting an hour plus for AV, it’d be like when PvP first came out all over again!
So is it feasible? Most definitely. But is it a good idea? Well, that’s where things begin to blur. This service would definitely be a boon to some for all sorts of different reasons. People who didn’t much know about the game may have made a character way back in the beginning whom they absolutely love, but are now on the opposite side of the fence from. Others may have less innocent intentions however, clearing out a guild bank or achieving an epic ninja then transferring server, faction and name, never to be heard from again. And still others may simply be curious about the how the other side lives, but not wanting to level all the way to 80 again.
Honestly, I’ll wager dollars to doughnuts that this will end in either one of two ways: Blizzard will continue to make periodic, small announcements on it, mainly when asked, letting people know that it’s still coming, but not yet ready. It will then either be implemented poorly, have a huge amount of bugs or so many restrictions that it will almost never be used, or will simply fade away, never to be talked about again except in passing reference of dropped plans (Power Word: Barrier, anyone?). Either way, I will most likely not being using the service. Blood Elf for life, bitches!