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Opinion: The Upcoming Asia Server Could Damage Albion Online

Nick Shively Posted:
Editorials 0

Almost as soon as I finished writing about how 2023 is the best year to start and/or continue playing Albion Online, Sandbox Interactive dropped a massive bomb. Scheduled for release in March 2023, Albion Online will be getting a brand new server dedicated to the Asia-Pacific Region.

Normally, adding servers to new regions for an MMORPG is a good thing. It opens up the game to players who were previously region locked or simply couldn’t play the game due to bad ping. Also, this usually has very little impact on the players who are already playing the game because most MMORPGs are already spread across multiple servers per region.

However, Albion Online is unique in that it currently has a single server across the entire world. Players from every region come together in a single game instance on PC and mobile to play the exact same game simultaneously. This is an incredibly important facet of Albion Online because nearly all meaningful content is derived from other players. After the tutorial, there are literally no quests or stories to follow. You simply go out into the world and interact with other players.

Sandbox Interactive has done a great job of interconnecting the three main types of gameplay: PvP, PvE, and crafting. Each of these game modes relies on players from the other. PvE players farm mobs and sell items to crafters who in turn make equipment that PvP players lose in combat. It’s a cycle that keeps most content relevant while minimizing inflation.

The higher player population the more efficient that cycle and the in-game economy become, which makes the game overall more enjoyable for everyone. If there’s a migration from the game and there’s a shortage of PvP, PvE, or crafting players, the game becomes imbalanced. If there aren’t enough enemies to fight for territories or castles, PvP players will get bored and move on to a different game. Same thing if PvE players can’t fill dungeon groups or if crafters can’t move their items. Additionally, if players aren’t losing gear to PvP fights or being ganked, gear value with decrease because it will flood the market.

This is where the problem with Albion East comes in. The current Albion Online server is located in Washington DC. Obviously, this gives North American players a fairly decent advantage when it comes to ping, however, this location was chosen to attempt to provide a playable ping for Europe and Russia as well. Additionally, Albion Online can be played relatively well with a higher ping than most other games due to its combat design. At the time of Albion’s early development, Asia was clearly not a major factor in deciding the server location.

Depending on the exact location of the Albion East server, it could draw in players from Eastern Europe, Russia, China, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East, which combined make up a significant portion of Albion Online’s current population. As a member of a top guild in Albion Online, I’ve already seen the announcement have drastic effects. Specifically, many Chinese guilds have slowed activity and reduced or even completely stopped large-scale mass-ups. Other players have specifically told me they will only login for certain content until the new server launches, which they’ll move to.

There are two likely scenarios once Albion East comes online and neither are good for the game. The first would be the most devastating and see a large migration of players from the aforementioned regions to the new server. This move would likely set off a chain reaction of events that could permanently damage the original server for multiple reasons.

Albion Online

The first reason would be the most obvious. There would be fewer players overall and because nearly all of the content is player created the quantity and quality of the content would suffer. There would be fewer people and enemies to show up for territory fights in the black zone. If there are fewer fights, PvPers get bored, login less, and possibly move to another game altogether. Less PvP means fewer people buying the items from crafters and PvE players, which means these players either need to slow production or massive inflation hits the game and this creates less incentive to craft new items.

A secondary effect of this migration would likely involve a mass dumping of items by players who are moving to the new server. Historically, gold in Albion Online has only gone up. In order to retain as much account value as possible, and potentially even make money, it’s likely that players moving to the new server would sell off most of their items and buy gold. This would essentially earn them interest while not playing and provide a decent nest egg to return to if the new server doesn’t pan out.

However, a mass selling of items would crash the economy while a rush on gold would increase the price of gold while deflating the value of silver. This would hurt nearly everyone in the game and make it even more difficult for players to pay for premium subscriptions with silver earned in the game. Players who are used to paying for the premium subscription with silver earned in-game but suddenly can’t afford have an increased chance of leaving the game due to the huge benefits premium provides.

The alternate scenario is that Albion East has a flash-in-the-pan success but quickly fizzles out and most players return to the original server. In my opinion, this would be the best-case scenario for the game. Maybe a small but dedicated group stays on the East server indefinitely, but the major Asian guilds return to the original Albion Online server. This would likely be a blow to SBI for the expenses of setting up and maintaining new server infrastructure, but it wouldn’t have the long-term effects of a permanent migration of players.

Albion Online

There are a few reasons this scenario could play out. The first is that Albion East is a completely fresh server, which means brand new characters and essentially no economy. Many players have spent years leveling up their characters and even with knowledge from the original server there won’t immediately be items available to farm high-level areas. Initially, new servers can be exciting, but over time as they become closer to the original in terms of progression that feeling of nostalgia or specialness can wear out. Also, it could take years for certain types of content, such as black zone PvP, to replicate what is available on the current server, which could disappoint players specifically looking for that content.

Additionally, with the player base spread thin, it’s possible that large guilds would want to migrate back to get the PvP content that they previously had. If we look at the game closest to Albion Online, Eve Online, we can see that a Chinese server did not work out very well. Eve Online is also a full-loot, PvP MMORPG (although it’s set in space), it and has a single main server located in London.

Even though the game’s main server Tranquility has been slowly losing players over time, it’s still relatively healthy with an average of 25,000 players online in a 24-hour period. The Chinese server Serenity in comparison is essentially dead with 7,000 players online in the same period and less than 3,000 active at any given time. Apparently, many large Chinese alliances moved back to Tranquility a few years back and the server has been relatively inactive since.

Either way, Albion East will set the groundwork for the future of Albion Online. If East is successful and doesn’t tear apart the original server, it could lay the foundation for multiple servers across various regions but likely at the cost of degrading the original. If East fails then SBI is unlikely to launch additional servers and the original will continue to be the dominant force. Obviously, I believe the latter is the best for the survival and future of the game, but regardless of what actually happens I hope that Albion Online becomes better for it.


Nick Shively