Today Carbine announced that players would no longer be restricted to server transfers and that they had in fact permanently opened up server transfers. Previously there were strict restrictions preventing those who leveled on PvE servers switching to PvP servers (though PvP players can switch to any they like). The reason why they’ve done this is because they’ve acknowledged that the server population on Luminai isn’t as high as they’d like. You can view the full details of this change by ThaCheeze here, but I’ve picked out the main point below.
We’ve been listening to your feedback and understand there have been some concerns for the health of PvP servers following the PvP to PvE transfers we enabled for a short time after the MegaServer deployment.
When we looked at our data, the PvP Realms (mainly Luminai for our EU players) seemed healthy, but we understand this wasn’t what players were seeing or feeling in-game. As such, we sat down and discussed how to ensure all the megaserver realms would continue to be healthy and sustain an active and positive community.
As a result of these discussions, we have decided to move forward with the following;
As of 10/28/14, once NA servers come back online, we will enable free PvP to PvE and PvE to PvP realm transfers. You will be able to transfer from PvP to PvE servers and vice-versa, for free, for your games account region. Normal realm transfer rules will still apply, for more information on server transfer restrictions please see this Support article.
What frustrates me about this change isn’t the fact they’ve made it, but the fact that it’s far too late. Almost a month ago I wrote an editorial called The WildStar Ghost Town. In it I discussed the fact that the server I was on (Hazak) was empty and that I wasn’t entirely satisfied that MegaServers would fix the core problem (a fundamental lack of players to fill PvE and PvP servers). When MegaServers did arrive Luminai, as it became known, was now the only EU PvP realm and was still empty. The reason why it was empty was because everyone, prior to the merge, jumped ship to Jabbit. They jumped ship because Carbine were refusing to open up PvE to PvP realm transfers. As a result and for players fearing they would get left behind on an empty server, everyone made the switch from a PvP server to a PvE one (myself included). The end result of this mass exodus was that Luminai was even emptier than before MegaServers were introduced.
Unfortunately for Carbine this change to server transfers isn’t likely to save Luminai, primarily because all the large guilds have already moved and I very much doubt would be willing to move back. They won’t be willing to move back not only because of the headache that it will cause, but also because there’s no guarantee that Luminai will once again prosper. New players coming into the game who have a love for PvP will join Luminai, see how empty it is and transfer to Jabbit while any existing players (convincing themselves the population is fine) will likely follow suit when activity on the server dries up even further.
I absolutely loathed the fact that I was forced to move to Jabbit because I’m a huge supporter of World PvP and I’ve some of my fondest gaming memories because of it. The fact that Carbine took this long to make this decision is baffling when players have been asking for it since launch. I’ve never truly understood the reasoning behind restricting PvE to PvP transfers, with the main argument being it’s more difficult to level on a PvP server so therefore PvE players shouldn’t have it easy. I think it’s nonsense and having leveled on PvE and PvP servers, neither are difficult even with the potential deaths a PvP server attracts.
What this scenario makes me think is that far too many developers aren’t playing their own game to the level and standard of its playerbase. If they did and truly engrained themselves in their characters and their servers, they’d have identified this problem early (amongst many others). Instead we now find ourselves in a no-win situation where everyone loses out and unless there’s a huge influx of players, I fear that Luminai will forever be a near empty server. Regardless of Carbine’s data, I’ve played on the server and at a grass-roots level, it’s empty. No amount of transfers will fix that.
Moving forward, I think it's really important that Carbine disclose how much they play their game on live servers, who plays what class and what their hours invested are. At the moment, I'm not entirely convinced it's enough for them to experience their own game as a player.