The Daily Grind: Have server merges ever driven you away from an MMO for good?

When I saw Star Wars: The Old Republic’s whole promotion for Knights of the Old Republic, I was momentarily tempted to log back in and make sure I got a promotional item. Hey, promotional speeders are cool, and I can use it for… wait, they merged servers right into not having an RP server, right? Never mind, I’m not going back anyway, what do I care? Just like that, the server merge killed any and all desire I might have had to go back to the game.

Our own MJ has written recently about how the horrid handling for Aion’s server merges basically killed that game for her. I know there are people who are unwilling to go back to ArcheAge due to merges requiring new land rushes that just aren’t worth the effort. And hey, I can understand deciding that you don’t want to go back just because a merge made you lose your long-time character name. So what about you, dear readers? Have MMO server merges ever driven you away from a game for good?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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39 Comments on "The Daily Grind: Have server merges ever driven you away from an MMO for good?"

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Bryan Gregory

It’s pretty much always going to be better to do merges that to NOT do them. You’re going to affect way more people by not doing them. Most people aren’t interested in playing dead games, or games that appear dead. I mean half the point of playing an MMO is to meet and interact with other people – if a lack of server merges is keeping that from happening, why would people want to play?

Those weird creepy people who want to play alone or only want to play with their tiny group of friends and are actually on the forums opposing server merges really freak me out.

There is however always a huge issue with merges on certain games. Take Ultima Online for example… How would they ever do merges on UO without extremely affecting everyone in some way? The only way I can see it is if they merged servers but give everyone a copied version of their house (exact design and all items inside, etc), and let them place it in the new world. However I think UO is a game that could benefit from not even having traditional servers (although once again, they can’t get rid of them because of the housing system) and just convert them to “channels” instead. You can switch to another server/channel whenever you want. Any MMO with open world housing is going to suffer from this issue. It’s likely to cause open world housing to either not exist anymore or be very, very rare.

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Paul

Nope – I don’t play a game because it’s really popular – if anything that’s likely to put me off as games aiming for high populations tend not to be interesting to me by design. As long as there’s people around to play with I’m good, and merges tend to make that better if the population’s been declining a bit.

Mewmew
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Mewmew

Yes. Yes they have.

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Serrenity

ArcheAge, only because I lost my housing plot, and I wasn’t going to spend another six hours trying to beat script-kiddies to get another. I said “f*ck it, I’ve better things to do than to spend my time than being frustrated at not being able to engage in a huge part of the game because of hackers.”

I haven’t really played since.

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aleccia_rosewater

Remind me again what was the point of keeping servers seperate to begin with?

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Crowe

Because a lot of players played the game. A long, long time ago…

Nick
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Nick

No – but merges may be indicative of underlying problems. If I really love a game a merge won’t change that. And If I really love a game, I’d be paying attention to the news provided on the upcoming merge and how it will work, rather than ignore the news and complain later.

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Denice J. Cook

Yup! Rift can go kiss my butt! Their merger system sucks if you want to keep your character’s name. They announce the shuttering of servers, let you pick where you want to go, but then force you to rename your character if your name is already taken on the destination server….even if that character you’re up against is only a level 1 and you have a capped level 60 or whatever.

There’s no name priority system in place. That did it for me! Bye bye, Trion!

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Zen Dadaist

No, but I suspect that’s because of the games I’ve played in which server merges were a thing, they were handled well. I never personally lost anything.

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Pandalulz

Not really, most of them I’m not actively playing when they happen, and then when somebody like WoW did it, it appended server names to player names and moved on, leaving me unaffected. I’m not into RP or any of those specific types of servers, so no affect there, and most of the time, my character names are so weird nobody has taken them anyway.

Polyanna
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Polyanna

Doing them has not. But NOT doing them sure as hell has.

I also have a hard time taking any game seriously that launches in 2017 with any form of separate shards, instead of going with a single shard universe from the start. If you’re too dumb to learn from the lessons of the past on something that basic, I don’t have a lot of confidence in your ability to get anything else right that matters.

You also get demerits for not copying the only naming system in the world that makes any sense, like the one that STO uses, where only your account handle needs to be globally unique, and your characters only have to be uniquely named vs. each other, not anyone else.

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Alex Malone

For me, my attitude to servers is the opposite of you: I will avoid games that use mega-server / single shard technology.

But, that is because I value the massively-multiplayer aspect of the genre. I want to be interacting with 1000s of people, making connections, making friends and forming a community. It is these social connections that make the genre special, hell, massively-multiplayer is the only unique selling point!

In a single shard / mega-server environment, yes there are always lots of people but it’s rarely the same people. If you only meet someone once, you cannot form a social bond and therefore you cannot create a proper community. PvP becomes less interesting because you’re always against randoms. Grouping becomes problematic because people stop caring about their reputation. You can never create a name for yourself.

Mega-server tech also relies extremely heavily on instancing so none of the game world is actually persistent. This is a really limiting feature and I’d rather my developers were more ambitious.

So, whilst server mergers (and low pop servers) are a problem, I’d rather deal with that than play soulless games on a mega-server.

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Space Captain Zor

It sure can if I lose my character names.

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Paragon Lost

Yes.

cyclopsdoesnotcare
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cyclopsdoesnotcare

SWTOR lost me for good with the server merges. They’ve essentially held my character names hostage for money, and I don’t negotiate with terrorists.

The game is such a disappointment. If it didn’t have Star and Wars in its title it would have already been buried. Poor management and decision making have haunted the game from the start. I really wanted to love SWTOR, but eventually you have to realize that some relationships are not healthy.

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Alex Malone

SW:TOR was the “straw that broke the camels back” for me. It was so badly designed that it finally made me take a step back from both the game and the genre and question why I was playing. Turned out I’d long ago stopped playing because the games were fun and I was only playing because I had created a great guild and enjoyed spending time with them.

Since then, I’ve not committed to any MMOs, just done beta weekends and trials in the hope of finding an MMO that isn’t making the same mistakes as everyone else.

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ogged451

Sort of. When Mythic merged all the server clusters into the new Ywain cluster they disbanded all the guilds which made finding the people who only log in once every few months impossible and that killed the guild I was in so I moved from the RvR server to the PvE-only server, Gaheris.

plasmajohn
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plasmajohn

Wildstar’s merge worked out great for me as I now had access to the RP community.

Good chance I’ve lost names on SW:TOR. I have yet to log in to survey the damage. But none that really matter. Of those that were known, those players that would recognize them are pretty much all long gone.

Dunno what I’m going to do about my strongholds. While I did put a little effort into building out some on Harbinger, they were mostly done for the conquest bonus. As mentioned the guild that mattered to is long gone.

Nothing about the mechanics of the merger would have driven me away. EA’s flat out lie about the West Coast server is indicative of what did. Ultimately it was the whole Command Rank fiasco that they still cling to that I simply cannot tolerate even as a casual player. But that lie shouts louder than a Time Square announcement that SW:TOR is headed straight for maintenance mode.

Still, I’ll probably see if I can punch the card for Darth Hexid.

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Alex Js.

Not really, no. Usually the server mergers mean that there’s a massive decline in population and I usually stop being seriously invested into game long before that.

Reader
dthblayde

Yep. Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. First round of server mergers, they shut down the RP server and dumped us in with the general pop. Now.. it wasn’t that act alone that did it. It was the shady, backhanded slap to the face that preceded it. Sigil / SOE put up a poll to decide the fate of the servers. The vote to “Keep the roleplay server, despite the chance of a potentially low population” was unanimous.

The poll was a spit in the face to everyone when it was announced that despite the support, they were merging it anyway. Why even bother insulting the players with the poll in the first place? Once that was announced, I canned my sub and quit

Reader
Hirku

That’s a real low blow, you were right to quit. Sometimes I can get past a developer’s bad decisions if they’re straight with me, but when the trust is gone it’s gone for good.

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dthblayde

Pretty much. Pull a screw move but own up to it? Sure. I can tolerate that. Something like that though? No thanks. I’m out.

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Hirku

It just did.

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Armsbend

I usually leave a game before it is in it’s death throes.

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Modrain

Aion (EU) is the only game I played that underwent server merges, two times. While it didn’t drove me away, it certainly carved in me that I wasn’t ever going back to it.

The first time it was a few months after release, done by NCSoft, and it was ok-ish. I heard a few bad stories about name conflicts, but I had no issue with mines, and at the time there wasn’t housing, gear limited by ranking and such.

The second merge happened two years ago, and was done by Gameforge. At some point on one of the server that got merged, I was an invested player. I did a few firsts (full PvE gear, full PvP gear, weaponsmith master, etc), and for some time I was an asmodian Army Governor. To simply put it, my character had a name, a history, and the kind of achievements people talk about on forums. It’s the first and only time I really invested myself into an MMO community instead of just being a happy sideliner. I was proud of what I achieved. For some reason, however, Gameforge decided that name conflicts would results in the oldest character keeping the name (who apparently was a mid-level character that had been inactive for years), and that individual PvP ranking history would be reset. I have no issue with losing gear advantage, power, etc, it’s part of how most MMO work. But with that merge it’s the identity of my character within a community that disappeared. Pretty hard to go back after that.

Cyclone Jack
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Cyclone Jack

WAR. When the servers merged all of my characters were generic’d. I was already playing somewhat casually, but that pretty much ended my career in WAR.

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Veldan

Nah. I was part of some in Aion and RIFT, but they never made me quit. If the population drops and a game has an oldschool server structure, merging is the right thing to do. Who would complain about a more lively playing environment with lots of new people to play with?

There are of course a few cases where server merges have negative consequences. If a specific ruleset vanishes permanently (typically the RP server) that sucks for those who valued it. But usually, it means there were so few people left that valued it, that it didn’t make sense anymore to keep a server just for them. Can’t blame the company for doing away with the ruleset then.

The other case is if the game is ArcheAge and you own land. I’m not sure it’s a problem anymore, but back when there were fewer housing spots and a server merge meant another land rush… yeah. Angry people everywhere.

Reader
Utakata

Not yet. I am pretty sure they will if any of the horror stories I’ve been hearing about materialize with my account. And with a motorcade size flipping the bird on my way out. /grrr

Reader
Andrew Jennings

Well seeing as this has to happen, no. The fact is as technology get’s better they can put more players onto a single server. We are seeing more and more games now days moving their games into single mega servers or at least a hand full of large capacity servers that can house tens of thousands of players at a time. Why worry about managing 200 servers when you can manage 5 and do the same thing? Yeah, you might take a bigger risk with putting all your eggs into one basket but that’s a risk that’s just better financially.

As for the inconvenience of naming, well the merge just happened and out of 90 characters I had to rename one. That’s one out of 90 which I’d say I’m doing pretty damn good with those odds. As for no RP, well that’s on you to make your own RP. Sorry there isn’t a dedicated RP but that’s I think something that a smaller game like SWTOR might have to look at as a luxury item they simply don’t have the numbers to see backing. I’m not sure about it. However I would bet you could find like minded people who would love to RP with you and you can simply ignore anyone who doesn’t RP.

In the end, the mergers are good for the game because it allows for a healthy population on servers instead of a few healthy alive servers and a ton of dead servers where everyone keeps transferring out of them anyway. If you don’t like it, then don’t play and I wish you well on your adventures in what ever game you find.

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TheDonDude

Nope!

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Mailvaltar

Yes, kind of.

A couple months before the first merges I was pretty much finished with ArcheAge anyway because I didn’t want to support it’s greedy P2W design anymore. Still, I loved the game and had a hard time leaving for good.

Then along came the announcement of the merges and the notion that I should be excited for the coming landrush. Suddenly the decision to quit was incredibly easy, and I never looked back.

pepperzine
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pepperzine

Nope. Merges can sometimes be negative but it is never a factor that contributes to me leaving a game.

Reader
starbuck1771

Not going back to SWTOR I would have to rename 300 characters and that is unacceptable IMHO. I had been a member since day one of closed beta and stuck with the game until now after pouring about a hundred thousand dollars into the game since it launched via subscriptions and cartel coins. This merge just seems like a big screw you to me.

threeknee
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threeknee

Well, the one time server mergers happened to a game while I was playing it, I thought the opportunity to rename my character for free was a bonus. A feature, if you will. So, no, it didn’t drive me away.

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Veldan

I’m not sure you’re allowed to be this positive about it

:)

Reader
Schmidt.Capela

Not really.

But then, I stay away from non-instanced housing so I was never affected by post-merger land rushes, and I avoid fought-over names for my characters so I rarely lose a name. Plus, some of the MMOs I was playing when the merger (or the change to MegaServers) happened already had unique names game-wide, so the merger’s only effective consequence for me was that I suddenly had a lot more people available to play with.

quark1020
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quark1020

I have been fortunate enough not to be turned off by a game after server merges. Granted, I have quit the game for a long while before the mergers start to happen. Still, my names are unique enough that I almost never have to change them when I do return, and the one sandbox that I did have real estate in had already deleted my character (my TKM in SWG) so I had already rage quit that game for entirely different reasons.

dixa
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dixa

The first round of SWTOR mergers pushed me away.

I was early adopter if that game because i am a Star Wars nut. Beyond the movies. I own every book a lot of the old toys and every game ever made. It was important to me to secure the name Corran both in game and for my forums handle. I got both.

Then my server was merged with another and I lost that name. I still had Mirax and Jysella but corran was gone.

So yeah, pissed.

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Eliandal

Yup…it was their inept handling of the first server merge that drove me away as well. It didn’t matter that I was a CE pre-purchaser (in order to get the names I wanted), in the end, I lost 7 out of the 8 names I had at that time simply because there was someone higher levelled. In discussions with support (at that time I was a sub – and so had at least some support) I found out that shouldn’t have happened…but…oh well , too bad – they weren’t going to do anything about it. Cancelled my sub on the spot and haven’t been back in game since (which is too bad…I did enjoy the game)

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