Community vs. Population – Are you a Number?

Lately I’ve seen a trend with the older (and even newer) online games where the population is either scattered or decreased and they are forced to make some harsh decisions. What do you do when your game relies on other people playing with you?

There is no easy solution. None.

Does population rank higher on the list than community?

How many players is a “healthy and thriving” population?

As most of us who are online gamers know – most games have multiple servers (there are a few exceptions) and each of those servers have their own personality and “ways.” There is a general feel, if it’s an established game and it’s been around awhile, everyone knows each other. Or at least of each other. Oh sure it take awhile, but folks do see familiar avatars with names every once and awhile. As the population grows smaller, the community becomes a tight knit sweater that sometimes pulls apart or is tied together a bit too tight.

I’m generally an “established” player. I choose my game and I stick with it for years if it’s worthy of my time. So for me, I do not “uproot” easily. I get comfortable and I’m happy even if I’m one of 3 people logged in. (Yes that has happened, what can I say? I’m dedicated.)

I know there are many people who change games as quickly as they change channels on the TV, but I’m not one of them. Is the gain of these game surfers for a month or two worth punishing the die hard fans who login every night and kept the game going while it was running low?

Are the players that have remained on a server for years who do not complain often but still pay their monthly fees without much upheaval more important than those who are vocal but play one month here or there? How about vice versa?

There is no quick and easy answer.

However as one person who likes to stick to one game at a time for the long haul, I ask all developers to please consider the long term players. The ones that have stuck it out since the first days, essentially your greatest and most dedicated fans.

I know that I have stopped playing online MMOs after server merges or forced moves.  However the one caveat – I was currently playing them at the time.   Hold on – wait a minute don’t get all huffy on me.  I know it takes population to bring in population and when a server becomes a wasteland folks will lose interest and will return with the lure of more people to meet, kill or complain about.

So should a tight knit community on a low server population be forced to merge with others of the same?

I’m old school and have to say I don’t like the idea, BUT can certainly understand the business decisions behind it.

Oh and hi, I’m back! :)

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