Looks like Blizzard is doing some server splitting to deal with overpopulation problems on various servers. It also seems like a lot of people are upset at the idea and don’t think it’ll work.
This particular set of splits seems to be a sort of test run to see what happens when they do so. They’re not targetting the most populous realms yet, they’re targeting some of the high population ones that have fewer problems. If it goes well I think they’ll start doing more of it, effectively doubling the number of server they have.
Now I do play on the Kirin Tor server, which is one of the servers that has free character transfers available and is a canidate for splitting if not enough people move to the Farstrider server. Of course it’s likely people won’t do that so I’m pretty sure we’ll be getting split into two servers. Blizzard is being real nice about how they handle it too, guild members will stay together. If you’re unguilded you could get split from your friends if you don’t choose your server. So as far as I can figure you should join a guild with your friends if at all possible.
Yes you could get cut off from your friends who aren’t in your guild. It sucks but consider the problems Blizzard is trying to solve.
- Server Overpopulation. Too many people playing on a server causes lag. This is not to say there are two many characters on a server, deleting unused characters will not help, it means there are too many accounts logged into a server.
- “Gregarious Clumping”. Part of the reason servers are overcrowded is because people wish to play with their friends. People tend to clump together in most cases, picking comfortable places with people they know as opposed to say a large group of strangers. That’s why some servers have huge populations, and some have basically no one on them. Most people find it hard to make new friends, especially if they don’t have old friends in a particular group. Consider the story of the Tower of Babel for a good example of this and the problems it can cause.
- Server Underpopulation. There are a lot of perfectly good servers out there that have no one on them because of the clumping issue, they want to see more people play on those and alleviate some strain on the over populated ones.
I’ve seen several options given for solving this problem. One being preventing new characters from being made on a server. There are a few reasons why this is a bad idea. The most obvious is new players being recruited by a friend. If you recruit a friend to play and your main is on a server where new character creation isn’t allowed he’s not going to get to play with you. Your only option is, should you want to play with him is make a new character on another server. Obviously people don’t like that idea.
Another option is let older members of a server stay and move some newer ones. See above for why this is a bad idea.
Increasing server capacity is also an option, but the biggest problem here is you’re just delaying the inevitable. Technology does have limits. Eventually they’d have to do it again, and again and again. At some point it is probable growth would outpace technology.
It has been said that Blizzard has eight million active subscribers which puts their monthly income at a minimum of $119,920,000 just from the $14.99 monthly fee to play their game. Since Blizzard is a subsidiary of another company that means they don’t get to keep all that. Add to the fact that they have employees to pay, a lot of equipment to maintain all over the world, taxes in various countries, advertising, operating expenses (electricity, natural gas, legal fees, banking fees, credit card payment surcharges, rent, and tons of other stuff), and any little ‘trade fees’ that various countries require for you to do business in their borders, and you have a lot of bills every month. They probably get to keep less then half that amount as profit for themselves, and most if not all of that goes to their parent company. So no they likely don’t have the money to constantly upgrade their stuff.
What they do have the ability to do is add more servers, and find ways to make it attractive for people to move. One of the most effective ways is by force honestly. People just won’t move away from their comfort zones for any other reason. They’ve tried free character moves, releasing more servers for people to play on, adding capacity, and even offering paid character moves so people can playwith their friends on most any server.
There are in fact no solutions that will make everyone happy. In fact the solutions available are so against normal human nature most people will be so stubborn as not to take those options. It is possible there will be people writing hate mail threatening to cancel their accounts. The thing is if most people would stop a second and think about it they’d realize that their minor sacrifice will actually prevent more drastic measures from being taken to keep the game running.
Now personally I wish they’d be ‘more forceful’ and just lay it on the table for everyone. People will probably not quit playing because they lost contact with a couple of people on their friends list that they only talk to on raids. Honestly I’d have a great time making NEW acquaintences.
Some kind of reward system for moving would also be really nice. A lot of companies that used to be on the ‘penalty system’ for their clients are moving to a ‘rewards system’ instead. You do good, pay your bill, return your stuff on time and they give you some sort of reward. Maybe they’ll look the other way if you miss a payment, maybe they’ll reduce your fees, maybe they’ll send you free stuff every year, or give you credit for late. Of course if you don’t do that stuff they have penalty fees and cancellations of your account. Personally I think it’d be great if Blizzard did this too.
You move your level 60 character like they ask, move your guild and maybe they give you some kind of present or maybe cut a dollar off your next billing cycle. Maybe they send you a coupon code for some cool pet or something. What if they gave your guild some more advantages or something? Then I think people would be more willing to take the risk of losing contact with a few friends.
Of course, there is a solution that no one has mentioned that we subscribers have total control over. There are tons of underpopulated servers hanging around that are in no danger at all of a split, probably ever. Why not take all your friends, in your guild or not, and make characters on one of those servers? Make a real name for yourself instead of competing with stupidly huge guilds that have been around since release. If you don’t all want to be in the same guild, make a few of them, ally with each other and start a whole Guild Portal community. Sure you lose your level 60 and uber gear, but it takes what three months to make 60 if you are serious about getting there. Five days if you’re a mage and have no job or need for sleep? Maybe you’ll find even better gear if the competition isn’t so harsh. There’s no reason you couldn’t transfer your 60 over later if you move from a normal server to a normal, or a pvp to an rppvp.
Just my thoughts,