Thursday, November 13, 2008

Seamless server transition

/start of being a tight ass MMO game company

So you created a character on a different server to your friend and now you want to swap so that you can play together? I'm sorry, but that's going to cost you! Changing servers is expensive... didn't you know? At a technical level we have to change one field in the database. That's expensive work... so that will be $25.

What do you mean your server is at a low population and you want to change because it's ruining your gaming experience? $25!

You're sick of being ganked on a PvP server and now you want to swap to a PvE server?? Oh... that's too bad. $25 please...

/end of being a tight ass MMO game company

/start rant

You get my point. The greatest con job in the history of MMO gaming would have to be charging for character transfers. There is no reason why the whole process of transferring a character from one server to another can't be automated and made seamless so that a player can move from one server to the next without a cost or hassle. So why do companies like Blizzard and Mythic charge for the service? Well there are in fact a couple of reasons, but the main one is more $$. I can't actually think of any downsides to allowing players to migrate around servers freely, aside from potential overcrowding. Beats under population in my books.

I think it's funny that Mythic wants to charge for character server transfers when they are having so many server population issues. I also think it's funny that they copied the con job from Blizzard and expect to get away with it (actually they probably will). I suppose they have to earn a few extra bucks on the side...

ArenaNet have already announced that Guild Wars 2 will have seamless server transitions for characters built in as core functionality. No costs involved. It will work similar to changing district at the moment, except you will change server. There are no hassles with conflicting character names because names are unique across all of GW2. They achieve this by enforcing something called a 'last name' for your characters upon creation. Incredibly this allows for more than one person to have the same first name for their character... who would have thought it possible? Not Blizzard and not Mythic, that's for sure.

/end rant


Melf_Himself said...

When I was born it was a very long labour. Apparently my parents had to switch servers until they found one on which there were no other 'Phil's...

Server transfers are such a crock of shit, and while we're at it, so are monthly fees. If I'm paying $15 for a game, I expect $15 of content every month. It does not cost $15 per person to run a game server.

Tesh said...

I've thought this for a long time, and have written a number of articles on the subscription model and viable alternatives. I'm working on one now. WoW has been the king for a while, but discerning consumers will find other options.

mbp said...

Free easy server transfer solves so many problems automatically. Too crowded on server #1 - watch players move to server #2. Sever 5 too quiet, hard to get groups, no need to worry about it players will move to a busier server.

Thallian said...

Great points melf and mbp.

Personally I think it exists because we put up with it.

Chris F said...

Heh - wait until you see the new charge WoW is unveiling - gender and race changes for a fee. I called that one over a year ago.

I suppose the issue is magnified in WAR since you absolutely need a fair population to enjoy the game, but look at core mechanics of WAR and it is stripped straight from the WoW playbook - grinds, grinds, and more grinds. Why not strip the financial model as well?

Crimson Starfire said...

Lol. Your right. I'd like to know where my $15 a month US is going?

Free easy server transfers would solve all population problems. You'll never see it happen in WoW or WAR because money is their driving force, not player satisfaction.

When there is no other option, you just have to pay the money and deal with it. Kind of reminds of Microsoft's philosophy.

@Chris F
Totally agree. If Mythic had of actually done something different to WoW (gosh what a concept), like free server transfers, they might have actually attracted more players. It would have also put pressure on Blizzard to make their server transfers free as well. Can't see it ever happening though.

Anonymous said...

Cryptic was toying with the server transfer concept for City of Heroes/Villains and had some plans to implement that.
But if they will try that with the game under NCSoft rule is another matter.

Blizzard are not innovators, they take established features and mechanics and polishes it until it really shines. So I think there will have to be a few others to do that before they pick up the concept.

phoenixboy said...

Charged server transfers are, in the WoW case serves as a delay and avoids (mostly) people being **** and never have their character reputation tarnished (aka hiding in the vast sea of servers).

Note that im saying in the WoW case, in other games with less servers, people can be more trackable and help population issues.