AoC Server Merges - When Worlds Collide
When it comes to MMOs, it is the nature of the beast that a strong population is critical to the survival of a game. So what happens when the massively multiplayer turns out to be not so massive? Developers often have to make the hard decision and start offering transfers, which ultimately gets followed up with server merges.
There is no denying that Funcom's Age of Conan has had a rough going during the course of the 6 months it has been released. Funcom and their stockholders watched with horror as roughly half of their subscribers jumped ship in the first 90 days. Now after server transfers, Funcom has now entered the server merging phase to help sure up the population levels for their remaining players. Controversy is starting to brew regarding their decision to merge 2 servers of different rule-sets, the normal PvP server "Bloodspire" and an RP-PvP (Role Playing) server "Hyperborea" are about to collide into what looks to be a very interesting situation.
Now I'll be the first to admit that I have never played on an RP server in any of the MMORPG's I have played, but I do respect the option to have that playstyle choice. Now I will also be the first to admit that I have played on non-RP PvP servers in Age of Conan, and I have witnessed first hand the "culture" of these servers. It could be that some on these servers are role-playing as a mentally-unstable sociopathic teenager, but one has to wonder how the role-players will react to their new friends.
So what happens now? To the best of my knowledge, I can't recall seeing a situation like this in an MMO and we can't blame Funcom for trying foster a healthy environment for the players in terms of population. What is about to unfold will be a very interesting social experiment. I decided to take a look at some of the server forums to see the reaction from the communities, and so far it looks like a mixed bag. I don't believe that both cultures will be able to survive personally, so the question will be to see who folds.
One possible scenario is that the non-RP types might be willing to give role-playing a shot, although I suspect that this is probably not going to be the case. The other scenario could be that this officially ends the culture of role-playing in this community, and the disgruntled RP crowd tries to proceed to the nearest exit by seeking a transfer or opting out all together. Funcom has made their choice and now it is up to the players of these servers to make their own. Let's see if the players be willing to give up the RP in RPG for the MM in MMO. I am interested to hear player's predictions on how you think this will play out.
Co-leader of Inquisition