The announcement that Age of Conan was merging their servers drastically was echoed all over the internet. My trusty Google alerts have held fast under the barrage of blogs, news blips, and internet posts, each attempting to slam one more nail in the coffin of a game that hasn't been live a year yet.
Why the net wide freak out?
Stating that AoC is closing out over half their servers does sound like a fairly doom and gloom sort of announcement, I'll give the naysayers that. The vast array of server choices were necessary at launch after an encouraging initial sale of the game but once the shiny newness wore off, many were headed back to older games or off to check out the new ones and this left AoC server populations looking more than just a little grim. A staggering 48 servers, spanning across regions, were all open for business and yet it seemed like no one was around and this panicked a lot of players and made the game feel a lot more isolated than it actually was. Who wants to play a massively multi-player game that no one else is playing?
Tortage is actually seeing some action again!
I haven't yet played a MMORPG that has never merged servers at some point and yet the term seems to hold a stigma that convinces us that this surely is the beginning of the end. Mythic dodged this stigma somewhat with Warhammer Online by "encouraging" free character transfers to selected servers. While the cunning herding of characters eased the fears of some players, others still saw it as a sign that WAR was also doing badly. People start hearing about declining populations and safety measures being put in place to protect what is left, and they get worried and companies frantically start reassuring.
The truth is that server merges are very common and not at all unexpected after a game launch. MMOGs generally experience a burst of excitement and high head counts at their release and for the first couple of months after. Not being overly prepared for this would be a sin in the eyes of the community so of course developers are going to make sure there is plenty of room for everyone. Inevitably, subscriptions will decline and this leaves servers with lightened loads scaring off more players who are unwilling to ride the wave of gaming ups and downs. To keep the server communities healthy for both the players and the marketplace, merges are needed.
Does this mean that Age of Conan is doomed to close soon?
I really don't think so. Age of Conan is still launching in other countries which tends to be a good sign. While it didn't hit mega success in North America, it still holds a fairly decent following world wide and the game continues to anticipate a platform launch. There have been rumors regarding the possibility that AoC will go free-to-play but these are unsubstantiated and came up recently when a bug in the subscription page was caught. With other projects on Funcom's agenda, shutting down a game that still creates revenue would just be a poor business decision.
Post merge, Age of Conan is running 20 servers across the globe (just slightly fewer than EverQuest II currently has) including the 2 new "fresh start" servers that allow for players to start over with a clean slate. Character transfers have also opened up for those who would like to make their home on other servers, further opening up opportunites for players to find where they are most comfortable.
Have the changes helped? I've personally hopped around on a few of the servers just to get a feel for what the populations are like and am very encouraged. Global chat is active, guilds are beefing up their ranks, and people are finding groups for various tiers of content. This has been the breath of fresh air that we needed while we await new free content and look forward to a future expansion!
Find Where Your Characters Landed
New server name is marked in bold followed by the list of servers that were merged into the new server.
- Set (PvE)
- Wiccana (PvE)
- Gwahlur (PvE - Oceaninc)
- Tyranny (PvP)
- Cimmeria (PvP-RP)
- Bloodspire (PvP - Oceanic)
- Crom (PVE)
- Bloodbrand (Ahriman)
- Hyrkania (PVE-RP)
- Fury (PvP)
- Aquilonia (PvP-RP)
- Mitra (PvE)
- Aries (PvP)
- Asgard (PvP-RP)
- Ishtar (PvE)
- Ferox (PvP)
- Stygia (PvP-RP)
- Zingara (PvE)
- Indomitus (PvP)