MMORPG.com Age of Conan Reporter John Humphrey writes this multi-part article detailing Age of Conan's 2009 progress toward being named MMORPG.com's Most Improved MMO. In today's addition, he discusses changes and events for the game from January to March.
Part of Age of Conan’s recovery involved server merges, and there was much controversy as a result of it. On January 9, 2009, FunCom merged their host down to eight North American Servers and twelve European servers of various languages from the 49 originally populated servers. In truth, this event was inevitable. FunCom had set up a substantial number of servers believing that their game would rival WoW. When the dust settled in 2008 and 1.2 million boxes sold turned into 400,000 (or less) subscriptions, it turned out to be a business decision to maintain the game by reducing the maintenance on servers and the number of support personnel needed for technology and customer service, not to mention having players on the same servers.
The publicity surrounding this act was a two-edged sword. While many players now found a lot of new players to associate with, other veterans lost favorite player names and guild names, and the healthy RPG servers had to adjust to a large number on non-RP gamers being thrust into their previously large and happy populations. Opponents of Age of Conan had a field day, announcing that this event signaled the demise of the game, and it was only a matter of time before the plug was pulled on the remaining servers. Looking at this event a year later, I can say that though unwelcome by some players, the merges did more good than harm, and healthier populations can be found on each remaining server, evidence that the game is not yet dead.