What a strange article. MMORPG.com, as with virtually any other MMO news site, does not allow the discussion of private servers and actively suspends/bans anyone who merely mentions the idea of their existence. I can’t blame them for this, after all I do it too. When you’re in a business where you’d like to get developers to respond to you every now and then, allowing your users to discuss how to play their game for free or on hacked servers is generally seen as no bueno. Again, entirely reasonable from everyone’s perspective. What I did find interesting is that MMORPG’s Garret Fuller published an editorial not only discussing how much he enjoys a particular private free shard for Ultima Online, but using it as an example of why people enjoy the classic shards and how today’s MMOs can learn from them.
It is the old version of the game and simply gives players the sandbox they have been looking for. The rules for most free shards allow players to buy into some stats and such, but the shard I play on is by the book for Ultima’s Second Age. After playing now for two weeks and using Razor’s Interface there are some valuable lessons I have learned about why players go back to sandbox games and why they stay active.
What is even more interesting, if not a bit humorous, is that the article does indeed violate MMORPG.com’s rules on discussing private servers, and Community Manager Mike B quickly showed up to lock the discussion thread for the article:
We’re going to be locking up the comments on this thread as this is a one-off piece by Garrett. As you all know, we do not allow the discussion of free/private/emulated etc. servers on our forums. We appreciate your understanding. Thanks!
The double standard is rather blatant on MMORPG’s part for publishing the article and then trying to dismiss any feedback or conversation about it by deleting threads and banning users, especially when the header for the article says “come discuss it on the forums.” If you can’t open a topic to feedback, it might be a sign that you know that the discussion will either not go in your favor, or you shouldn’t be talking about the subject to begin with. To openly invite people to discuss it, and then start deleting threads and banning accounts, well that’s just poor journalism.