Server Mergers? Calm down interwebs. It’s not the end of the world…

Posted: May 10, 2012 in Gaming, SWTOR
Tags: , , , , , ,

So the internet exploded and overreacted to the release of the subscription numbers for Star Wars The Old republic. People on the internet freaking out over nothing? What a surprise. So the numbers released last week we learned that the subscription numbers for SWTOR are down from 1.7 million to 1.3. Pretty big drop but still… 1.3 million subs? Game’s doing fine. Because of the drop there are obviously some servers for the game that are barren even during peak times. Figured I’d throw in my two cents about it.

The sever that my guild and I were placed on during early access is a medium-ish pop server. During peak times the PvP queues aren’t that bad and a decent amount of people can be seen roaming around on the Fleet. I don’t mind the lower population on my server but when I play in the off-peak times the queues can take literally over an hour to get into a Warzone. I tend to play in off-peak times mostly. My biggest gripe about the server that I play on is constantly seeing the same pr-emade groups in PvP for hours on end. There have been periods of time when I hit the same pre-made group for 3-4 hours and sometimes couldn’t finish my daily PvP quest. It can be very frustrating. What I decided to do recently is roll characters on a west coast server with a higher population. I am east coast myself but I tend to play late most of the time so hopping on to a west coast server is better for me. I’m very much looking forward to the upcoming server transfers. Once they become available I will be moving four or five of my characters over. The population on my server seems to have dipped recently. I think other people have had the same idea to test the waters on some of the other servers and transfer over in early summer when that feature becomes available. When this does happen what will become of those left behind on those medium/low populated servers?

In the world of MMOs server merging always get bad press. Usually it happens to games that are struggling to hold people and they combine servers together to make fewer, but higher populated servers. Now SWTOR is not struggling by any means. 1.3 million subs is great. What they should do with the lower populated servers is merge them together so those players who don’t want, or can’t afford to ship their characters off to another server, get a better experience. More players means faster PvP queues, a better economy and a much livelier world to play in.

The bad stigma around server mergers for MMOs is pretty ridiculous. Games gain and lose players all the time. It happens. I think that deciding not to merge servers to simply save face and avoid bad press can potentially be more damaging because those people left on those extremely low pop servers really don’t get a good experience. Therefore keeping them subscribed to the game becomes a lot less likely. The bad press and internet explosion that will take place if they merge servers will be a tough pill to swallow. On the other hand having people quit the game because of, or constantly hearing about barren servers isn’t a good thing either. I think that if Bioware does decide to merge some of the lower populated servers that it will be better for the games community in the long run.

A lot of MMOs out there get a big influx of people who play as soon as the game launches and then that number often drops. Sometimes it steadies out. For some games it goes up again. Others manage to scrape by with their loyal player base. Some game developers switch business models from a subscription to free to play. Those games that make the switch can occasionally end up becoming very profitable and carry on for much longer than people thought they would. I think that this drop off in SWTOR subs is just a normal happening in the world of MMOs that is being blown wildly out of proportion. It’s got a larger than usual spotlight on it because it’s a Star Wars game and EA/Bioware spent a lot of money developing it. I feel that the game does have a lot of great aspects to it. I agree that there are some things that need to be fixed and added to the game. I am still having so much fun with it and plan on sticking with it. I’m eagerly waiting to see what the great folks at Bioware have in store for us.

I’ve spent the last few days trudging through hundreds of pages of forums to look and see some of the reasons that people have left the game. I was looking through the posts, ignoring ones that were nothing more than – “This game sucks so I quit.” or “SWTOR is dead”, in an attempt to find intelligent responses. Posts where people explained what they didn’t like and why they left. There’s quite a few valid well thought out posts among the arguing and trolling. Some left because they just felt that this isn’t the game for them. Others enjoyed the game but felt that there were key features missing and until SWTOR had them they would not be playing. Others are interested in upcoming games and wouldn’t have time. There are plenty of reasons why they left and some pointed out features that would bring them back. I think two of the features that I saw mentioned the most were the Ranked Warzones and the Group Finder. Both are features that are coming soon. Group Finder is slotted to be in the upcoming Patch 1.3. Ranked Warzones got pulled from 1.2 partially because of the feedback they were getting on the test server about how the queues worked. I gotta admit the way the queues worked with putting ranked in with unranked if it couldn’t find enough people was… For lack of a better word, wrong? I’m glad they decided to hold off until they can work with it a bit more and perhaps get cross server queuing in so they can avoid the mixed queues.

Server mergers aren’t always a bad thing. I think that if they decided to go this route with some of the servers that it would be better for the game in the long run. Perhaps once they get the cross server queuing in, it will solve a lot of the problems that the lower populated servers are facing. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

What are your thoughts? If you’re a SWTOR player how is your server doing? Still a busting population or are you stuck dancing by the PvP mission terminal with the same 10 people every single day? What are you feelings about server mergers in general? Are they a good thing if they can potentially make the community stronger or just the last fleeting breaths of a dying MMO? Let me know what you think in the comments here on the blog or over on the FMG Facebook or G+ page.

Thanks for reading!
-FMG-

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Comments
  1. taugrim says:

    There are 2 ways to deal with servers that lack a critical mass in terms of population:
    1. support transfers
    2. merge servers

    The issue with #2, aside from it supporting the perception that a game is dying, is that some players on Server A don’t want to be merged with the players on Server B, and vice versa. Also, if the merged server population doesn’t gel, the players will blame the game dev for merging them together and creating a negative community.

    It’s better IMO to empower players with choice, so that they can transfer where they want and deal with the consequences.

    • crabbyjedi says:

      I have recently started playing SWTOR and I must admit I think it’s far better than WoW and I have been playing WoW for the past 6+ years. I plan on sticking with SWTOR till it ends and will most likely be the final MMO that I play once I eventually quit hopefully in like 6+ years.

    • @Taugrim Yeah I agree that there can be some backlash if the two server pops don’t gel together. I think we will have a better picture of what should happen once they reveal the targeted transfers that they were talking about. I’m hoping that I luck out and get a free transfer from my server to the one I want. If not then I am willing to pay for the transfers I want. It just irks me that server merging is taken as such a negative thing when it could potentially strengthen the game community. I really love the game and would like to see them take a drastic step towards making it even better if that’s what it takes.

      @crabbyjedi I’ve played WoW for many years and still enjoy it. The main game that I am playing atm is SWTOR. It really is a lot of fun. Despite that I agree there are some features that are lacking I just have so much fun with it. Still love my WoW. Not planning on stopping my SWTOR sub any time soon tho.

      • crabbyjedi says:

        I would like to see them do something along the lines of Rift and give each account 5 free server transfers a month.

  2. That would be cool but I think they’ve already said that the targeted transfers will be free but then afterwards if you want to move to specific ones that it will cost money. Hopefully not too much because I told my guild that I will pay for people to transfer at least their mains over at first. haha could get a bit costly…

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