When a game you love begins to wane, it's a huge let down. If a game is lucky to last long enough, the production schedule of new content and bug fixes slows down. The servers begin to look a little empty, and the auction houses offer nothing of value collapsing the economy.
Lord of the Rings online launched in April of 2007. It was after the highly successful Lord of the Rings movies and before the Hobbit movies really got going. The game rode the tide of Tolkien mania. People who had never gamed before gave it a whirl. Originally launched with a subscription model, it followed in the steps of the Dungeon and Dragons online, and went free to play in 2010. As always such decisions turn people towards the game or push them to something else. By the time another five years passes the graphics have aged, the movies have stopped, momentum has faded, and the game has been suffering a downturn in the number of players.
The server merge announcement seemed to be a shock, but really it wasn't. Turbine had been teasing with dropped hints about new server architecture in New Jersey. Over the summer they solidified the rumor's and let everyone know which servers would be killed.
My static group still plays LOTRO once a week on Wednesday's. As the six of us have leveled, I've run to the Auction House to buy new things. On our server, the offerings have been abysmal. It seems most of the people are leveling upper characters, leaving anyone just joining the game out of luck for crafted or looted items for sale.
I wasn't terribly surprised when I saw our server on the list for execution.
Zeff and I both belong to a Founder's guild outside of our static group. The reaction of the 15 or so core players in our guild has reminded me how important pixelated content can become in a person's life. I have never seen our guild really have any drama. Well ok, there was this one thing really really long ago, but that's dust bunnies under the couch.
This server merge has caused angst and discontent in way's I didn't know our guild was capable of. We had a meeting and discussed our options. Our facebook page has blown up with comments on not being able to get their names on certain servers, being angry about being so far down on the transfer list, and untold venom when the 5 remaining worlds were allowed to transfer for free before the closing worlds.
It's been pretty intense.
I've been through a few of these, and I remember how upset was I the first time or so the announcement went out. At this point, I like to think I am not as attached as I used to be. Except, I have a thing for housing. In LOTRO, it took me a couple of weeks to pick out a plot. It's up on a hill, overlooking the water. AND IT IS MINE! With this server merge business, I will lose my plot I've tended for seven years. I am sad about it. Not angry though. Just wistful to know this adventure might be coming to a final end.
My guild suffers from first time guild merge fears. They are afraid we won't get on a nice server, friends from our alliance won't go to the same server, housing will be unavailable, housing and bank items won't transfer correctly, so on and so forth. There can be a lot to worry about, but mostly, I think there is a bunch of scary thoughts going on in everyone's head. They feed each other. It's like a fear feeding frenzy at the moment.
Our static group hasn't decided where to go yet. Heck, Zeff and I are still mulling through our choices for our regular characters. Turbine is still working out kinks in the plan. In the end, it's all going to be ok. I just don't know how to convince some people...
So how do you feel about the server merges? Is LOTRO dying? Is this the first or second nail in the coffin?