I have joked, not entirely without seriousness, that part of what I like about being on an underpopulated server in Final Fantasy XI is the simple fact that it destroys any temptation I might have to get involved in the serious endgame. There’s no doubt that I do not need to get involved with it, obviously, but it’s very easy to get my attention by waving a pretty piece of armor or two in front of me. But without the crucial number of people around to make getting into it easy, I lose momentum and go back to focusing on other things. A bullet dodged, there.
Of course, the other side of things is that a smaller server can feel more empty, more barren, and generally lacking in several of the aspects which make a massively multiplayer game… both of those things. I play on one of the largest North American servers for Final Fantasy XIV, so I get all of those advantages there… along with server queues, crowding, and all of the downsides of having tons of people in a contained space. Both variants have positives and negatives, in other words. Which strikes you as better, dear readers? Do you prefer smaller or larger servers, and why? (If your answer is “I prefer no servers,” that counts as a vote for larger servers, since you can’t get much bigger than 100% of the game’s population.)