Contemplating Rift Server TransfersMay 24, 2011
Did you hear? Rift to offer free character transfers to select servers once per week. Not that I would ever dream of leaving my home of Faeblight, but hearing this news is cause to rejoice especially when it comes on the heels of Blizzard’s recent announcement of a possible premium cross-realm dungeon feature. Yeah, at first glance, Trion’s move looked to me like a direct and rather obvious retort to that 800-pound gorilla in the room.
To Trion, I say jolly good show. Friends playing the same game but not being able to do it together because they’re on different servers has always been the downside of multi-shard MMOs, so anything that helps facilitate that is a positive move in my book. I did cheer with the masses when I heard the news, but now that a little time has passed and the celebrations are over and the dust has settled, it’s time to look at things a little more closely.
Some bloggers have already started, and I have to confess when I started mulling over the specific wording of “select servers”, my own train of thought lead me to similar speculations. The FAQ confirmed suspicions that players will only be able to use this service to move to specific shards, presumably as a way for Trion to balance populations. I joked earlier today about staying away from Faeblight, but it probably won’t matter — being one of the heavily-populated servers, I would be surprised if it even ends up being eligible for this service at all.
Weighing in on this, I can see how there might possibly be something more to the story, whether it could be motivated by server imbalances or a move to put a positive PR spin on the problem of low populations. In light of those posts I linked, my excitement has admittedly come down a notch or two, but despite the strings attached, however, I still see reasons to be optimistic.
I play on Faeblight, and it’s practically always busy, day and night. Doesn’t mean I discount the woes of others who complain about their servers being dead; it just seems to me that players are unevenly spread out. Trion’s guiding hand may help alleviate some of these distribution problems. As well, it might allow players to “test drive” servers before they choose one to put down roots, because God knows how hard it is sometimes to find a server to call home, and I’ve regretted my share of server choices in the past.
Regardless of its limitations, it is also my hope that this move by Trion will set the precedent for future MMOs. The initial wave of impressed reactions at least showed that gamers are sick of being nickel-and-dimed for what we believe are essential services, and that $25 per character transfer or paying an effing premium to play with friends might be just a tad unreasonable.