Daily Archives: May 23, 2011

Blizzard, Trion Worlds, and Obvious Juxtapositions

Now this made for a pair of eye opening announcements.

Last week Blizzard mentioned that it might charge a premium to allow players to group up and do instances with their Real ID friends on other servers.

Then today, Trion Worlds announced that they were going to allow free, once a week, server transfers.

On the surface, this is very easy to cast as “Trion = Good, Blizzard = Evil.”

I mean, Blizzard wants you to PAY to play with your friends!  Granted, they are such good friends you rolled up  on different servers, but they are still your friends!  And you have to use their dubious Real ID service to do it.  That is two strikes right there.

You want to shake your head in disbelief when you read this sort of thing.

Meanwhile Trion is giving us what we want, mobility amongst the many server silos.  Once a week, you can move.  Blizzard charges you $25 for the privileged, and I seem to recall that the you cannot move again for another 30 days. (And $25 seemed like a good price a couple years back, when SOE was charging $50 for character transfers.)

It is hard not to stand up and cheer for Trion Worlds.

But it makes you wonder what is really going on.

Because, almost assuredly, something other than the obvious is going on.

On the Blizzard side of things, you might wonder if they really want people to use this service.  Or if they want the overhead of server transfers.  As was pointed out over at Blessing of Kings, charging for them is a barrier that keeps only those who really want the service from using it.

The realities of having so many players means that sometimes you want to allow flexibility, but discourage it just to keep costs under control.  A certain percentage of server transfers end up in a call to customer services.  So even if the transfer is no more than a database entry, once a live human is on the line an individual transfer is probably a loss.

Not the best justification in the world, but I can’t tell you how much a customer service call really costs Blizz.

Meanwhile, here is Trion Worlds, with Rift a couple of months old now.  I have to wonder if they are being clever about dealing with a contraction of population, if the initial rush has peaked and they now have more servers running that are really viable.

Announcing server mergers is always viewed as bad news.

But announcing free server transfers, that is a huge win.  Not only will your population take care of your server mergers for you, how and when they want to (some people love to play on nearly deserted servers), but the good publicity makes Rift look like a game you really want to play.

Each announcement may be more a reflection of the situation in which the company finds itself.

Of course, this is speculation on my part, but it seems like reasonable speculation.  And it all seems like an indictment against this many separate servers architecture, which is the real problem with which both companies are attempting to deal.

What do you think is going on?

Guild Hall Obsession

I previously mentioned my quite modest goals for the double experience event.

One of the special things about the double experience week that just passed was that double guild experience was part of the package.

I wanted to get the guild to level 10, which would get us a bit more space in the guild bank, or maybe level 15, which would give us access to the first status mounts.

Gaff, however, wanted a guild hall.

A guild hall becomes available to a guild when it gets to level 30.

That seemed like quite a stretch for our cast of low level characters.

But the idea took root.  Characters were transferred from EverQuest II Live.  Writs were run.

The guild was level 20 by Friday, when the effort began to slow.

Further characters were transferred, old friends were recruited.

And, after a 7 hour triple-boxing marathon by Gaff running tier 9 writs on Sunday, we finally arrived.

Guild Level 30 - May 22, 2011

Guild level 30 in under a month.  And the game was down for two of those weeks.

Now we can get a guild hall… if we can afford one.

I think we can scrape together the 50 platinum coins to get the guild hall, but the weekly upkeep of 50 gold and 200,000 status points might be a stretch unless we really commit to the game.

And, of course, with a guild hall we would like to get some amenities.  We are allowed 5 at our level, and the trade skill related ones are very tempting.  But they cost and have upkeep as well.  In some cases the upkeep is as much as the guild hall itself.

That might be a bit tough to maintain for a guild that is still mostly at or around level 20.