The Daily Grind: Do server merges make you worried about an MMO’s health?

    
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The Daily Grind: Do server merges make you worried about an MMO’s health?

I’ve been covering the MMORPG genre professionally for well over 10 years now, and a whole lot has changed in that timespan, including the way people react to server merges.

A decade ago, just uttering the word “merge” was enough to send a playerbase into a swirl of panic. Articles covering merges always got plenty of people gnashing their teeth about the supposed death of a game. It got so bad for a while that studios started trying inventing new terms so they wouldn’t have to actually use “merge.” Heck, some studios are still doing that to this day.

And yet I’m not sure they need to anymore because it seems to me that people no longer look at merges as doom. When even games like World of Warcraft have had de facto merges and kept right on living, it starts to seem a lot less scary. Plus, I suspect players have seen enough games that have actually benefited from their merges – I’m thinking most especially of Lord of the Rings Online – that we would almost rather see a merge than a malingering.

Do server merges make you worried about an MMO’s health?

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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Turing fail
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Turing fail

Hmm… if EVE Online merges the People’s Republic of China server with the one for the rest of the planet (Russia included), my eyebrows will likely arch beyond repair…

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Franklin Adams

Not anymore. However most of the MMOs I play (ESO, STO, The Division 2) use a megaserver or regionalized server paradigm so the back end isn’t something that’s ever visible to the user. To be honest I think that WoW was the last MMOG that I played which had split servers. Anymore it’s like a throwback to hear that a game’s infrastructure requires a user to pick a server, it reminds me of UO 20+ years ago.

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Rolan Storm

Not always, but sure as hell show game is in trouble. Most of the time server merge means less players – yeah, obvious – so. Still depends on a game and the age of said game.

Reader
donvweel

In an ideal world there would only be one server, maybe two or three to include RP and hard core PVP. Multi server just segregates the community. I suppose it is a hardware limitation. Although Eve seems to have a handle on it?

Reader
treehuggerhannah

That alone? No.

Population drops are a natural part of any game’s lifestyle as it ceases to be the new big thing.

Also, sometimes newer/better servers can handle more population, so it may even indicate they upgraded their hardware.

I would only worry if it were combined with other signs that the game is in poor health.

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Leiloni

Not really. A game can still have a healthy community on less servers for years. What dooms a games population more than anything are the developer/publisher and how they run the game. They can either ensure a smaller game succeeds for years with a healthy couple of servers, or dies a slow, painful death.

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Anstalt

In a competitive market, games built with the themepark model will inevitably experience a population decline. So, server merges are a natural part of the products evolution and are generally a good thing from a gameplay point-of-view: more people on the merged servers means more groups, more socialising and more fun.

The business side of things comes in with the scale of the mergers. If they went from 20 to 15 servers, not much of a problem. If they went from 20 to 4, then yeh, game is clearly struggling.

But, I don’t care as long as the game is still fun to play.

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Arktouros

I don’t worry about MMOs/businesses, I don’t have stock, if they flop oh well.

I do see mergers as a sign of failure or of a failing game. There’s exception to that of course, WOW merging one of it’s bojillion server groups I’m probably not going to think the game is in trouble. However if a game starts merging servers it’s usually because they’ve lost enough people it makes sense to start merging servers together. It’s not a good look even if it’s done with the best intentions or goals.

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Toy Clown

Depends on the MMO and the powers that have the final say in its production. Some games will always remain alive and server merges are a way to cut costs. Usually, the games that remain alive after server merges are managed by in-house people, where other games that I would worry about shutdown are backed by huge corporations that are getting rid of games not making enough profit for a huge portfolio or are in a battle over IP rights.

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Bruno Brito

Not really. I find that Megaservers should be the way to go, always. Games who keep servers split are the ones who actually worry me ( LoTRO, DDO ).