Fixing the Root Problem with Alliance vs Horde

What is the point in having a war that can never have a winner?

Ion Hazzikostas, the game director of World of Warcraft, has announced that patch 9.2.5 will include an opt-in feature that allows Alliance and Horde players to play together. This means that players will be able to form cross-faction parties for dungeons, raids, and PvP.

The Underlying Problem with Alliance vs Horde

The main theme of Warcraft is the ongoing war between the Alliance and the Horde, humans and orcs. However, this theme creates a problem because the war can never truly end, and neither side can win. This can be frustrating for players who don’t want to pay a subscription to play on the losing side. It has been a challenge for Activision-Blizzard to keep both sides “balanced.” Currently, the Horde is winning, and Alliance players are having trouble finding groups to play with to complete content. Some players have resorted to creating Horde characters or paying Activision-Blizzard a fee to change their character’s faction. It is estimated that 36% of players play Alliance and 64% play Horde. However, this imbalance cannot continue indefinitely.

The Solution: Knock the Walls Down

Activision-Blizzard has been considering the decision to keep players separated and wondering what would happen if they allowed Alliance and Horde players to play together, especially since the story and lore promote working together.

“At BlizzCon in 2019, when an attendee asked about cross-faction play, we responded at the time that “Alliance and Horde separation … is a pillar of what makes Warcraft, Warcraft.” But upon reflection, that’s an oversimplification: Alliance and Horde identity is what is fundamental to Warcraft. And while at times that identity has been one of division and open conflict, we’ve seen Alliance and Horde finding common ground and working together ever since Warcraft III (notably including the last time a Warcraft chapter was named “Eternity’s End” …), and the instances of cooperation in World of Warcraft itself are too numerous to count.”

Ion Hazzikostas

There is a deeper problem from a lore perspective. As someone who has been playing the game since the beta phase (the game was launched on November 23, 2004) and enjoys the lore, I often feel a disconnect with the war. My characters were born into a war based on their race when I created them, and I have characters of both factions spread across different servers. The expansion Mists of Pandaria strengthened my desire to be neutral. After 17+ years of playing, I no longer care about the war.

Instead, I think it would be more interesting to be angry at the other side based on their current actions rather than their race. It is possible to have conflict without war. This would also open the door for new races to be neutral, allowing the player to choose their faction rather than being assigned one based on their race. They’ve started this with Mists of Pandaria, where players with Pandaren characters can pick their faction. A third neutral faction would be awesome. Continuing on this theme, what’s going on with Jaina and Thrall? Anduin and Sylvanas? Haha, I digress…

What’s Coming in Patch 9.2.5?

It’s important to note that this opt-in feature will only be available to those who choose to use it, so players who enjoy hating on the opposite faction can still do so. At this time, guilds will remain single-faction only. More from Ion Hazzikostas:

  1. Players will be able to directly invite members of the opposite faction to a party if you have a BattleTag or Real ID friendship, or if you are members of a cross-faction WoW Community.
  2. Premade Groups in the Group Finder listings for Mythic dungeons, raids, or rated arena/RBGs will be open to applicants of both factions, though the group leader may choose to restrict the listing to same-faction applicants if they so choose.
  3.  Guilds will remain single-faction, and random match made activities like Heroic dungeons, Skirmishes, or Random Battlegrounds will all remain same-faction (both because there is less faction-driven pressure around random groups, and to avoid compromising the opt-in nature of the feature by randomly placing a queuing orc in a group with a night elf).

“Once in a party together, members of the opposite faction will remain unfriendly while in the “outdoor” world (and fully hostile in War Mode!), as they do today, though they will be able to communicate through party chat. Upon entering a dungeon, raid, or rated PvP match, however, all members will be friendly and able to assist each other in combat, trade loot, earn shared achievements, and otherwise fully cooperate the same way members of the same faction have always been able to. A major goal in announcing this feature in advance is to make sure we’re capturing all the expectations and requirements for this to be a smooth experience. A group raiding, doing Mythic+ keys, or chasing higher PvP ratings should be able to operate seamlessly whether they’re a same-faction or cross-faction group.”

Ion Hazzikostas

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