The Daily Grind: Do promotional server rulesets hurt or help MMO communities?


I was reading some interesting chatter on the Lord of the Rings Online forums following last week’s announcement that SSG is rolling out two new progression servers (after closing an old one down). Some players are predictably excited about starting over and experiencing these faster and slower progression shards, but there was a bit of pushback as well.

“You can’t build community by opening and closing servers. All that does is drive people away. Servers ‘dying out’ will only make people gun shy about legendary servers, as who wants to play on a server knowing the population will dwindle and die? You’ll get that first week rush but then what?” one player said.

I’d like to toss this topic to our esteemed readers and ask if promotional server rulesets are a net positive for an MMO and its community or ultimately hurt it. What do you think?

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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It’s fine if they don’t lock it behind a paywall (sub fee)

Jim Bergevin Jr

I personally don’t get the appeal of separate progression servers, whether they are time limited or not. I guess they are more for the Server First and/or Content Locust type of player.

Regardless, I think the idea of Server Communities itself is an antiquated notion that people just can’t seem to let go of. It meant something back in the old days when you had more sandboxy games with open PvP. In the modern era, most players just want to play through the content and aren’t concerned about the people around them. And that’s perfectly acceptable. In all reality, how many people do you actually know and interact with in your home town outside of your immediate neighbors? Heck, most people don’t even interact with the other people on their own street. So we really need to divest ourselves that Server Community should hold any significance in modern MMOs.

Stormsong Minstrel
Stormsong Minstrel

Not hurt if done right. Slow xp server, for example – perfect for those who want everything really, really slow, like dying slug reaching Alpha Centauri. Server that is deemed to self-destruct within 5 months (if it is clearly explained): how would *you* act in the face of Apocalypse? Make friends? Become serial murderer? Scam everyone? Help everyone?
But that does not explaining. Openly and clearly, like “Moomba-Yoomba server is for paying customers only and after 3 motnhs, 3 weeks and 3 days server would be viped out. No transfers from/to this server”.


If everything is upfront and clearly explained… I’m not sure I see the problem? I mean, *I* would not create a character on a server designed to self-destruct in a few months. But I’m weird, and I’m not most people. Many people are completely fine with deleting characters, even ones they’ve spent significant amounts of time playing.


Not sure if it actually hurts the games’ overall communities. Special ruleset servers create a lot of attention and some of the new/returning players will, after a while or even right from the start, decide to roll a character on one of the ordinary, long-term servers.

However, I think there would be a much better solution: simply create those special rulesets as options on the ordinary servers you can commit to when creating a new character. Since most progression servers are implemented lazily by just using the current engine and content and simply deactivating some features and locking off higher level zones (and also reducing XP a bit), this should be fairly straightforward to implement. At least for LOTRO this would be the better way of doing it, imo (not so sure about EQ1, though).


I don’t think it hurts. I find it highly doubtful that someone who jumps between special servers as they become available would settle down for a “regular” server if the special, time-limited ones weren’t available. Not everyone cares enough for the server community that they would remain in their old server (and game) when there’s something more exciting to be found out there.

In fact, I believe those special servers do more good than harm in that they allow players that would otherwise be leaving for greener pastures to remain in the old game, and likely even still actively participate in the larger game-wide community.


Its not just SSG’s problem to be fair, but yes it does and almost all experienced devs are well aware of it, but its also a high influx of money for them for a few months(by increase of subs, purchases etc – its money “imjection” to them) so they do it anyway for the short term profit. All progression servers are for printing money really, regardless if we like them or not, so I guess this will continue.

I dont agree however that their popularity is dropping – in fact there are games people jump from progression to progression server as they get released, so its highly unlikely to stop soon as its a trend now.

It will only stop when new servers will stop being profitable

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Paragon Lost

Yup, I’ve always felt it hurt the development of a community along with a few other items like phasing and LFG over multiple servers.