Originally I intended this week’s Community column to be speculation about how Trion Worlds would handle ArcheAge’s upcoming server merge, given that the plans are still in the conceptual stage and any real action that will be taken is still months down the line. To fuel speculation, I looked at how server mergers were handled in Korea and Russia under XLGames and Mail.ru respectively, and hoped to get a comment from each party.
While Mail.ru and XLGames didn’t respond to my request, I was told by Trion Worlds that an FAQ was in the works. It isn’t out as of this publishing (approximately 2pm EST on Monday, June 1st), so I’m going ahead with my original plan.
It’s safe to say that the term “server merger” has such a negative connotation attached to it because, in the eyes of the ever-rational internet mob, developers might as well post an announcement that they’ve failed at business. Couple that with a media in love with negative headlines, and you’ve got a recipe for PR disaster. Because of this, Trion Worlds isn’t the first to treat the phrase like they’ve been accused of having lice, and have joined the growing list of developers shuffling players away from low population servers (before closing them usually) without actually using the term “merger.” Even Blizzard opted to develop its engine to support cross-realm play rather than merge its list of low population servers.
There tends to be an even more negative response to this tactic, since if there’s one thing people hate more than being lied to, it’s when companies talk to them like they are lawyers in a courtroom dodging a guilty plea by questioning the definition of the term “murder.” To go back to the previous analogy, they are the kid in school trying to explain that while their head has been buzzed and their hair smells of medical shampoo, there is no way you can prove that they were responsible for the lice sighting that the school warned about over the morning announcements.
This isn’t the first time Trion Worlds merged without ever using the term. In Rift, Trion would convert low population servers to “trial servers” in order to force players off of them without actually calling it a merger. Designating a server as “trial” would result in character creation being disabled (for subscribers) and would limit players to the two main cities, forcing players to transfer off once they had finished the content available in the free trial.
We won’t know what Trion plans on doing with ArcheAge until they release more information, but we did grab this soundbite from their latest Twitch stream:
“It’s basically taking lower population servers and then creating an entirely new server and allowing players to migrate from that server to the new evolved servers.”
If their approach to merging servers in ArcheAge is anything close to what they did in Rift, it is likely that players will be not so gently coerced into transferring over to these “evolved servers,” through various limitations on these legacy servers. This way, once the population has sufficiently dwindled, the servers can be logically shut down due to lack of activity, with any characters remaining forced to transfer off.
So the notion that the servers were never merged is technically correct, and as I have said before technically correct is my favorite kind of correct.