Server Side Economics

July 19, 2012 at 9:31 pm | Posted in Guild Wars 2, mmorpg | 5 Comments
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Arenanet put up the list of servers for this weekends beta yesterday and it was actually kind of surprising. The first beta weekend event had 24 servers each for North America and Europe. That doubled for the second beta weekend at 48 each, on account of the massive lag during the first BWE. This weekend we’ll have 18 for North America, and 24 for Europe. Less overall servers.

They mention in the blog post that this is a result of some technical changes. For one, all the servers from the second weekend being put towards the stability of the rest. Otherwise it’s likely that they’ve reduced the number of skill animations and effects that are displayed to players.

They say they’re doing this because fully populated servers are more fun, and that’s true. However as anyone who follows MMOs will know there are likely some secondary considerations.

On launch a lot of games have a great demand for servers so they add dozens within the first few days. In the long run though, they won’t be needed. Too many MMO players play for a few months and then try out other games. The result is big population drops and server mergers. They’re always deemed a bad omen and some games never seem to recover from the bad publicity and hysterics players go through when they’re announced. Studios will jump through hoops to disguise and dissuade from the idea that the game is faltering.

So what happens if you never need to merge servers? What if you find a way to keep the initial number of servers small? That seems to be what Arenanet is working on. Keeping the total number of servers needed low, yes to keep that feeling of a well populated world, but also to avoid the negativity surrounding server mergers.

World vs World makes their efforts here rather important. There always needs to be 3 servers in a match, so if you have one under populated server you’ve got trouble. Keeping each server full is pretty much the only way to guarantee that WvW for the most part is a successful, busy, alive part of the world. If you don’t have to worry about inactivity, population, or fresh meat because there has always been and will always be a limited number of servers, you’re already on track to defeat age old problems of stagnation in WvW.

Another thing they’re doing to combat lopsided server battles are the prices on server transfers. They just announced on their forums that transfers to highly populated worlds will cost 1800 gems, more than 3 times what it costs to transfer to a low populated world.

I suppose I should mention that I’m not altogether optimistic about lag this weekend. I think perhaps they’ve underestimated the sheer number of people who will be crammed into the 2 or 3 zones of the asura and sylvari areas. There is a definite possibility, if they’ve been over-confident, of some serious issues.

But that is what testing is for.

And I’m not such a fool to think that there will never be server mergers in Guild Wars 2, but, if Arenanet can pull off such a low number of servers, maybe they can keep them at bay for a while.

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5 Comments

  1. After the doubled the servers for BW2, I was worried that they’d end up doing what so many other games had done — launched with tons of servers and then be forced to make the humiliating choice to start merging a few months after release (which, let’s be honest, is terrible PR to have to announce).

    I’m glad they came to their senses and realized stuffing as many people into overflows on fewer servers would be a better idea longterm.

    • It’s ambitious but I hope the end result isn’t just a bunch of overflow servers.

  2. […] Hunter’s Insight — Server Side Economics. “Arenanet put up the list of servers for this weekends beta yesterday and it was actually kind of surprising. The first beta weekend event had 24 servers each for North America and Europe. That doubled for the second beta weekend at 48 each, on account of the massive lag during the first BWE. This weekend we’ll have 18 for North America, and 24 for Europe. Less overall servers.” […]

  3. All indicators point to the use of virtual machines by Arenanet (transferring resources from discontinued servers). The question then becomes, why not a single virtual server a la EVE, STO, and most recently TSW? Then you don’t have the problem of consolidating servers later, with the accompanying bad publicity. Hardware could be added or removed based on player population, but it would be transparent to individual players. Probably too late to implement that in GW2 now, but future games really should be developed with single virtual servers as part of the plan.

    • Oh TSW has that? I didn’t know, interesting. Yeah, in Guild Wars itself, all you need to do to find someone is look through a district list. I think the only reason they didn’t go with that model is they had WvW in mind from the beginning and they didn’t want people switching to other servers quite so easily.


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