The Daily Grind: Should international MMOs have global servers or regional servers?

    
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Kerspear.

My first experience with MMOs was Final Fantasy XI, and so it was weird to me when I started getting some experience in the wider MMO world and realized that the game’s global servers were not the norm. Indeed, most of the time a game from another part of the world will have locally configured servers for each reason, complete with its own localized times for server maintenance and the like. Square-Enix’s global option is actually the exception rather than the rule.

Of course, the benefit of regional servers is that you can tailor your maintenance around regional prime times and focus on a very specific section of your customer base. On the other hand, considering how often international games have wildly different timing on updates and improvements across different regions, sometimes it feels to me like having just one version worldwide has its own advantages in terms of general uniformity of experience. What do you think? Should international MMOs have global servers or separate regional servers?

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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Jack Pipsam

Regional options are always best if the game is split into servers. I believe if given the chance to choose what server you play on should always be there, however regional players can suffer ping which can make some games almost unplayable.

Ultima Online still to this day has had a dedicated Australian server since the early 2000s, yet Star Wars: The Old Republic when Bioware mused if to merge the three Australian servers into one or just force everyone to move to US West, decided they had no interest in providing decent ping to paying customers and shifted everyone across, now SWTOR is basically unplayable as far as I’m concerned with US East servers being the only option now. They lost a paying customer and I was far from the only one.
Bioware later admitted on the forum shutting ANZ servers was a mistake, but one which was too late to fix.

Some games suffer worse than others, Guild Wars 2 and Rift (which I believe had no excuse not to provide a local server at launch) for some reason actually runs pretty smoothly despite the ping, I’m not sure if it was just intense optimisation or a specific direct route used but that game doesn’t seem to suffer.

Funnily enough back when Pirates of the Burning Sea was an SOE game, they payed to use a special routing to Australia to give a better line of connection for local customers to make up for a lack of local server because of how many Australians were in the beta.

Elder Scrolls Online is a mess, that game you can feel it, oh you can feel it. On the offical Facebook of the ANZ account every comment every post is asking for a dedicated server, so much so that Zenimax did make an offical post saying basically “thanks for the interest, but it’s too late”, and they had a point in that it would be in some ways too late now, people have their characters, guilds etc on a NA server of which pulling away from to start anew would be hard ask. But, they should have provided it at launch. The routing is awful and everyone else in the world got a taste of it thanks to a glitch which once sent everyone’s traffic through Australia regardless where they lived. Zenimax Online has been pretty bad at providing a good route.

Tera for some reason was, alright? Not great, but it was hard to tell how much was the ping and how much was just Tera itself back when it was stuck on the 32 bit client.
And this is where it can be hard, is Lord of the Rings Online laggy because I’m connecting from Australia, or is the game just that laggy? I hear it’s bad no matter where you live, so it’s hard to say. Same with say DCUO and EQ2, are they just bad for me or are they just bad?

World of Warcraft, despite it’s many problems provides Australian servers, dedicated Australian servers. I get 15-2o ping, when in ESO I’d get 300+. The glitch however with WoW is while Classic is great, Retail has suffered for years because of Blizzard’s stupid CRZ, the day-night cycle was ruined because it now syncs the day-night to US time, even though it’s an actual locally hosted Australian server. Fucking idiots. The thread about this is so large on WoW’s forum that Blizzard has had to lock it and start a new one themselves just so it won’t crash their forum software.
They’ve never addressed this apart from giving folk an ingame toy which can force a change of day, wow, thanks! Ugh.

Planetside 2 had an Australian server for years and why was why I was paying for Daybreak All Access, because I had a great time on it. But then they shut it down, not even a message on their website, but rather instead a post on their forum, thanks lads.
That said they shut down the server only a couple months before Planetside 2 had it its massive renewed spike in interest and players, which I’m naturally very salty about because despite a couple attempts, I have no interest in playing an FPS at 150+ ping, not when I used to get 12 ping from them. So despite years of support, I never got to experience the renewed Planetside 2 with the intense player support. It’s funny looking at the reddit seeing semi regular posts from new players asking why there’s no Australian server.

Once again RuneScape is the best MMORPG ever made and has provided local servers pretty much this entire time and has never stopped or played funny buggers.

This isn’t 2003 anymore, getting servers in Australia is not difficult. For non-MMOs both in the live-service and normal multiplayer sense Australian servers are the norm, everything from The Division to Team Fortress 2. It’s just the “mmo” which refuses and then it becomes a chicken and egg. They’re like “there’s not enough player to support it”, but then why would we support it if you expect us to play on 300 ping?
It’s why despite having no real interest in New World, I am expecting that to have local servers because Amazon servers are all over Australia, including controversially used by some government agencies.

We have every other option under the sun to play a game on local servers, why should we play yours if you don’t provide the same?

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MolleaFauss

I’d like accounts to be global but play areas/instances/whatever to be regional, ping is important in many cases so can’t be helped. Would be nice anyway to be able to “jump across” servers if one has friends in far places.

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Jack Pipsam

Runescape always did this well, you can choose and hop servers across the globe at whim.

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SmiteDoctor

Regional to help with ping

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Jon Wax

Exosolar servers

Pc master race my ass

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Bryan Correll

I like mega servers, but I don’t want my gamer siblings in the Upside Down to be forced to deal with the high ping that is so often their fate. So I will defer to the opinions of those who tend to get the short end of the stick when it comes to servers.

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Jon Wax

Australia having demigorgon wouldn’t surprise anybody at this point

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Jack Pipsam

This is pretty much the feeling.

It’s not as if I don’t want to play with you folks (because aside from like wow I have no choice), but if I had to choose to play on a server with Aussie/Kiwis and VPN using Chinese players (yes that’s a thing) where I can have 10-20 ping, verses playing on North American servers where the ping can be anywhere from 150-300+ depending on how the routing/location is, then it’s not even a choice which one I’d go for if given the option.

Plus it’s also just nice knowing who’d be on at what time, understanding each-other’s timezones, weather, holidays, etc.
And while we’re used to it and admittedly often encourage it, it’s also kinda nice not having to deal with folk who actually believe we all live in tin sheds in the outback or fight spiders everyday. It was funny when I was 13, but now it’s really hard to tell who’s just joking verses people who really believe this shit.

But it really does all come down to ping, because some games are almost unbearable to play, which is depressing if you want to play them, like ESO.

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Schmidt.Capela

My big issue with regional servers is that when they exist the game often uses geoblocking to force players into the “correct” regional server; I’m not really into limiting who I can play with, so if there is geoblocking, I tend to avoid the game.

Also, sometimes regional servers will only accept the regional version of the client, only available in the country’s official language in an often shoddy translation, which is often a deal-breaker for me.

So, if regional servers come with that baggage, then I’m flat out against them. But if the game still allows me to connect to whichever server I want (without paying extra for the privilege), and to use any language of the client with any of the servers, then I welcome regional servers.

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Vanquesse V

What really frustrates me is when the client and/or account can’t be used to play in whatever region I should prefer.
Ideally I’d prefer a global megaserver, but obviously there are unsolved technical hurdles before that would be a great solution for every game.

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Thoroughmas

As an Australian, I know all too well that I’d much rather play a low population MMO with a local server, than a high population one with a ping of 300ms+.
However the correct answer is of course dynamically linked regional servers. So that you can play on your local server for the most part, but “hop over” to one of the others for activities with international mates.

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wratts

Given the varying regional content & monetization restrictions, as well as varying global service requirements and expectations, if I were creating/publishing an MMO I’d almost certainly go regional.

Understand that for some players it may be a drag to not be able to play with your friend on the other side of the world (at least without VPN or something), but that’s by far the minority case relative to a China/US/EU player who doesn’t want maintenance in the middle of the day for example

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Bruno Brito

Honestly, after Guild Wars 2, i’m of the opinion that “regional megaservers” are the healthier way of going about. I’m still really bummed out that both LoTRO and DDO are not using megaservers, considering how sparse the population is between all the servers.