Patch 7.0 included some server-side changes to the way our cross-realm and sharding technologies work. While these changes were made to improve system and server performance, they inadvertently affected Role Playing realms and communities in a way we did not intend.
We recognize the issue this has caused for the role playing community, and have been hard at work on some improvements to our tech that will allow us to disable it entirely in certain areas on RP servers. In those designated areas, players on RP realms will not be automatically mixed with players from other realms, nor will they be split into multiple “shards”. In other words, if you’re on an RP server, you won’t have trouble finding other people from your realm in these areas, and shouldn’t see very many (if any) players from other realms.
Additionally, it’s worth clarifying that our previous rules which prevented RP realms from being automatically CRZ’ed with non-RP realms have not changed, even outside of these designated areas. However, please be aware that our party-based cross-realm tech is still in place, so if someone from another realm groups up with someone on your realm, you might see them.
We’re currently applying these changes to Stormwind and Orgrimmar, and North American realms should be starting to see their effects. Realms in other regions will pick the changes up with their next restarts. Once we’ve had some time to see how these changes are working out in action, we’ll begin applying them to other common social hubs (such as other capital cities, Elwynn Forest, etc.), with the goal to eventually roll this out to the vast majority of the game world. The only exceptions will be a few very specific locations where sharding is needed to prevent major performance issues, particularly with the upcoming expansion launch.
Again, our goal was never to disrupt the role playing community, and we apologize for any distress or confusion this has caused those players.