I was looking at the front page of the EverQuest site to see if there was any news worth knowing and I was struck/amused that the two most recent items involve progression servers, with the vote to unlock the Planes of Power expansion hitting the Ragefire server and the Lost Dungeons of Norrath expansion opening up on the Phinigel server.
Playing the nostalgia card has worked out pretty well for EverQuest and I am glad to see they are taking it more seriously than they did in the past, where such servers were launched with fanfare, only to be mostly ignored thereafter.
On the other hand, I do wonder when we might hit the “too much of a good thing” margin when it comes to nostalgia. Yes, the latest progression server, Phinigel, remains the most popular server for the game most hours of the day. On the flip side, such servers now represent almost 25% of the total EverQuest server base and, according to the recent Producer’s Letter, Daybreak plans to launch a new one this summer called Agnarr with its own special twist.
What should become of progression servers that are past their prime? The original pair, The Combine and The Sleeper, which launched a decade back… can you have nostalgia for nostalgia… were eventually rolled into standard servers when they had caught up. That was back in 2009, so they didn’t linger on for long on their own.
But Fippy Darkpaw and Vulak’Aerr launched back in February of 2011 and, last I saw of them, the vote for the Underfoot expansion was going on… that was in 2014… and I haven’t heard much about it since.
That was followed up six months later by the current reigning champion nostalgia server, Phinigel, which took all the zone instancing and server queue lessons Daybreak learned and rolled in some features to keep people from multi-boxing.
Now, about a year and a half down the road from the Phinigel launch, Agnarr looms. While Agnarr has a different formula than Phinigel, it will still likely steal some of the players from the older server, just the way Phingel denuded the populations of Ragefire and Lockjaw.
Meanwhile, Fippy Darkpaw and Vulak’Aerr linger on… are they effectively live servers at this point? You need All Access to log in, but if they’re done progressing on their own maybe that shouldn’t be the case. And is there too much capacity in the EverQuest nostalgia department at this point? Should some of these servers get merged in or have they spawned resilient (and paying) communities worth keeping the servers up?