When Wildstar first launched there were originally three PvP servers scheduled: Pago, Pergo and Widow. However, because of the massive influx of players, like there generally is with any big MMO launch, there were many complaints about long queue times and other issues from overloaded servers. In an attempt to comply with what the community wanted, Carbine added three additional PvP servers to Wildstar: Rowsdower, Warbringer, and Bloodsworn. Unfortunately, this immediate fix was shortsighted by Carbine and has caused incredibly unbalanced server populations, which has lead to more than a couple of servers essentially dying off.
From launch until early this week I had been playing on one of the original PvP servers, Pago, and have spent some time on Bloodsworn with alternate characters. Initially Pago seemed to be teeming with life. There was a sizable battleground population, queues were relatively short, PvE was progressing at a steady pace and there were even world PvP raids. This has all changed since player population has dwindled, in the past couple of months, and server transfers were introduced to Wildstar, which has caused massive evacuations from withering servers.
FIRST WORLD LAUNCH PROBLEMS
MMORPG launches are a magical thing; they show less of how many people are actually interested in the game and more so how many people are just bored with everything else on the market. The first 2-3 weeks of any launch are just insane, and that includes pre-launch events. Servers are literally bursting at the seams and developers are doing whatever is in their realm of control to keep players online. It’s too bad that this amount of life doesn’t ever stay with a game in the months that follow. Once the immediate “awe factor” dies down a bit, many servers lose generous portions of their player base to attrition. Either more exciting games come out, players decide they don’t want to pay a subscription fee, or their friends have decided to go back to League of Legends.
Generally this isn’t that big of an issue because most companies don’t overreact in the first few weeks and let communities settle in. What Carbine did was make the generally obvious mistake of listening to the players’ complaints and open up twice the amount of servers originally planned. So instead of three servers that were packed on launch, we had six that were relatively full but not excessively so. What normally happens for an MMORPG is that in the months following launch the population declines until it hits a stable point for the game, however, the unequal distribution of players in Wildstar caused even more people to leave due to barren servers, PvP issues, and a lack of raid progress on many servers.
What’s the first thing players want when servers start to die? Well it seems they want server transfers. No one likes to be forced to ride on a sinking ship and they shouldn’t have to. So what did Carbine do? They gave us server transfers. This was the second time they listened to the players, regarding server issues, and it was the second major mistake they made. Instead of taking 2-3 dying servers and merging their populations, there have been huge exoduses from nearly every other PvP server to Pergo. Instead of a few decently populated servers there’s now one to rule them all. There are now barely a handful of raiding guilds left on Pago and they’ve just started Genetic Archives while many guilds on Pergo are ramping up for Datascape.
After the initial wave of transfers left Pago, the server became a literal guild battlefield with a mad scramble to absorb players without a home and fragmented guilds. It was mostly guild leaders and core raiders that left first, leaving behind those that were still becoming raid attuned or didn’t want to pay the transfer fee. Most of the Illium chat turned from the usual capital city chat to nothing but recruitment spam and guilds trash talking each other. I’ve seen players join a guild only to become attuned and jump ship when a sweeter offer was extended.
The sad truth is that without a guild, these forgotten servers became the loneliest places on Earth. There were no public “looking for group” messages anymore or ragtag raiding groups. Either you’re in a guild or stuck queuing with random players for dungeons and battlegrounds. I literally spent a week trying to kill Kythira, the optional boss in the Ruins of Kel Voreth, with groups of random players that always ended in failure. It’s really not a difficult boss, but when you’re pulling from the bottom of the barrel it’s still a struggle.
It’s going to be an uphill battle for any guilds that stay on these servers because it’s unlikely that a large influx of decent players is ever going to emerge. As players transfer off server, quit the game altogether, or hop to more successful guilds it’s likely that these servers will eventually turn into a one-guild show. I wish the best of luck to these courageous players, and guild leaders, that are going to brave the storm, but that’s not where my place is right now.
Wildstar itself seems to be doing fine. Pergo is flourishing on the Dominion side and Exiles are doing well pretty much everywhere else. The game peaked early and there was a bit of a drop off, but now there’s a good amount of established guilds and a solid number of attuned players. This means that more people will get a chance to see endgame content and that new content should be released in a timely fashion. This is how things have been done before and probably how they will continue in the MMORPG genre for quite some time. People forget that even World of Warcraft used to be challenging and attunement was a difficult process, but getting to see Kel’Thuzad or Illidan fall for the first time was worth it. I’m sure we’ll feel the same way at the end of Genetic Archives, Datascape, and whatever else the world of Wildstar has to throw at us.Related: Carbine Studios, Column, MMORPG, Servers, The Nexus Times, Wildstar