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?