It's quiet... oh so quiet...

One of the things I've found the most striking since returning to WoW is how extremely quiet the game feels. The server we rolled on is consistently marked as having a medium population, one that's supposedly heavily lopsided in favour of our chosen faction, but I'm just not seeing it.

And no, I'm not saying that the game is dying - save your breath. Subscriptions have dropped by several million since I last played, which most certainly had an impact on how busy the in-game world appears, but there is more to it.

The Old Republic has probably spoiled me for what I consider a high population. Ever since they consolidated everything into a handful of "mega servers", there isn't an area in game that's completely quiet, ever. Each faction's fleet (the major hub) consistently has 300+ players puttering around at any time of day. Doesn't matter which planet you go to (except Quesh maybe, since it's so small...), at least on my home server there'll always be between 100 and 200 people out and about on each.

Meanwhile, in WoW I do a /who in Stormwind and it shows that aside from me, there are only seven other people online in my faction's capital. Ho hum. If that's a medium population, I'm not sure I want to know what a low pop server is like! It shows on the auction house as well, where even cheaply priced staples like herbs or cloth expire without anyone buying them every so often, and prices bounce like ping pong balls because supply and demand are extremely inconsistent and easily thrown out of whack by a single guy levelling a new profession (or that's what it feels like anyway).

Things aren't that much better out in the open world. Thanks to cross-realm zones, we do see other players about, but not that many. No two of them seem to share the same realm tag either, indicating that a lot of different servers have to be squished together this way to create the impression of any kind of activity. It also feels like the number of player characters that we run into (regardless of server) keeps dropping the further we advance in levels, CRZ or no CRZ.

I reckon that the active players that are out there are all hidden well out of sight of our lowbie characters, presumably chilling around some new portal hub in Pandaland (feel free to enlighten me). Flying mounts are also good at making people invisible to those who are ground-bound, and it's only every now and then when someone suddenly swoops out of the sky in front of you to "ninja" a gathering node you were making your way towards that you realise that there's potential for a whole additional layer of players traversing the skies above you and never interacting with you in any way.

It's certainly a far cry from the bustling MMO world that welcomed me with people all around me seven years ago (and back then the game actually had fewer subs than it does now).


  1. The main Ally server I'm on has taken a tremendous hit over the past few years, and the population dropped from A-52 levels down to about 5000 accounts or so.

    Almost everyone is at max level on an individual server too, which makes the server population seem even worse. And, given WoD's "instant L90" when the expac drops, anybody actually leveling out in the field is going to be even rarer.

  2. What you're seeing is pretty typical on a Med pop server in my experience... maybe a bit slower but in the ballpark.

    Once that realm gets merged with others (and down the road once all the merges are done) it should be different, the busy servers in the game are arguably TOO busy. If you're bored some day create a toon on one of the Full servers (if you can) and check out the main faction city, you'll probably see more players running around than you've ever seen even in the good old days. In most cases I actually prefer my quiet Med-pop server over the busy one.

    And yes, the Pandaria city and new 5.4 Island are both still popular spots for players to hang for various reasons so that's likely where the bulk of the active players on your current server are vs being in Stormwind.

    1. For the record, the new Alliance portal hub in Pandaria is the Shrine of Seven Stars. (The Horde equivalent is the Shrine of Two Moons.)

  3. It is quiet indeed (was levelling skinning in the old world myself on your server the other day), but I also heard that the server mergers in WoW (even if the technical solution isn't a literal merger) solve that problem. Too well, for the mini pet hunters!