Server and faction transfers are two of the worse things that ever happened to WoW. Why? Because if you’re on the low population side of a server, things have only gotten worse since those features were implemented, not better.
I play Alliance on a server called Thrall, so of course I was setting myself up to fail from the start. Still, while it was a Horde heavy server, it wasn’t all that bad until faction transfers went live. Suddenly, quite a few people I knew went Horde. The leadership of one of the most progressed Alliance guilds (which wouldn’t even be top 5 Horde side) crossed over. On the Alliance, we never saw the inside of the Vault of Archavon again.
There is currently zero incentive to roll on/transfer to the low population side of a server. Why go somewhere that never holds Wintergrasp (except at 5 am on a Thursday) or is severely outclassed in endgame progression? This is something that should change.
Blizzard would never do it, but a solution I have is simple: supply and demand pricing for server transfers and faction changes. When they want to populate a server, they offer free transfers off of the source servers to the destination server. This seems like something that could easily be implemented.
Using Thrall as an example, which, according to Warcraft Realms, is 80% Horde and 20% Alliance.
Let’s say you’re a Blood Elf on a server who has found a raiding guild on Thrall that suits them. Because Thrall is heavily Horde, the normal $25 transfer fee would be increased to, say, $40, due to the Horde population already being high. The max cost would be $50 for a server transfer for those who want to transfer to the high pop side of the servers with the most extreme imbalances (ohai Mal’Ganis.
On the other hand, if you’re an Alliance player who would like to come to Thrall (and, really, you should. The water’s fine. And Brade Frurry is recruiting!), the cost would be reduced to $10 or $15 due to the Alliance population being so low.
Now, say you’re a Blood Elf paladin already on Thrall who has seen the light and realized that Blood Elves are terrible and you’d much rather be a Draenei. The normal $30 faction change cost would be reduced to $15, as incentive to join the low population side. The minimum cost for a faction change would be $5, for the servers with the largest imbalances (again, see Mal’Ganis).
Would this solve the problem completely? No, of course not. But what it would definitely do is reduce the bleeding. Faction imbalances are bad for PVE progression and server economies. You’d still see people gladly pay $50 to transfer their toon to the high pop side for a top progression raid guild, so I think it would be a complete wash as far as Blizzard’s bottom line was concerned. And if you don’t like it, you’re always welcome to reroll via heirlooms.