WoW Premium Servers
There’s been a lot of discussion on blogs lately about the state of the Warcraft community and even some articles asking what developers could do to improve it and any other down-turning MMO communities in general. It’s a tough topic and the idea of maintaining orders and manners in a very accessible and popular game seems like an almost impossible task. However, in a comment on my ‘terrible community’ article, fellow blogger Mycroft suggested a beautifully simple solution: premium servers.
The mechanics of premium servers would be simple enough. They would be inaccessible to trial and normal accounts and restricted to those players that have a premium subscription, perhaps costing twice as much as the normal monthly subscription. Initial migrations to the server might be free of charge or charged at a discount to guilds and all of them would exist in their own battlegroup to prevent any intermingling with non-premium subscribers. The extra money would be used by Blizzard to offer premium subscribers additional features, potentially like early access to content, special items and additional web-services like unique guild micro-sites. They could employ more GMs to activitely run in-game events every month and monitor the server to reduce gold-spamming and gold-farming. Everything about this service would be designed to keep away the riff raff. Think of it as flying First Class.
Although some people may loathe the idea of segragating players based on wealth, the structure of the service would be designed to enhance the playtime experience of those that wished it. The sheer fact that the subscription would cost twice as much would immediately out-price a lot of undesirable accounts such as gold spammers because, in theory, it would be financially impractical for them to pay the increased amount. The whole idea behind the Premium Servers is that as people are paying more then it’s more likely to attract mature, well-mannered and serious players.
It’s actually not a new idea and SoE implemented the concept many years ago in Everquest when they introduced the Legends server back in 2002. The increased subscription fee covered early access to additional content, special gear and privileges and GM run events. Eventually the service shut down in 2006 due to a declining population but whether that was because of a lack of interest, poor value for money or simply because SOE were charging too much (4x the normal subscription fee), I couldn’t say.
A lot of people criticised the EQ premium service claiming that it took away too many resources (such as GMs) from the normal servers. Obviously if Blizzard were to implement a premium subscription in WoW then they’d have to do the math right and make sure the normal servers weren’t neglected as a result. WoW does have a big advantage over Everquest in terms of population though and I reckon it would be able to much better sustain a handful of premium servers in their own battlegroup, especially if they priced it all at a more sensible rate.
To me, the idea of premium servers in WoW would be very appealing so long as it was around a reasonable price point (I’m thinking $30 a month). Would you pay for it?