WoW Premium Servers

Just think - one of these servers could have a gold star sticker on it.

Just think - one of these servers could have a gold star sticker on it.

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?


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  1. Stabs says:

    I don’t think I’d pay for this service. And I very much doubt I’d play WoW on Economy.

    I think it would be the final nail in the coffin for me if they did this.

  2. Yogi says:

    It would be for me as well. I cant afford a sub that is much higher than it is now. My lack of work just won’t allow it. This has a negative feeling all over it for me. Ya you are paying for the additional attention, much like first class, but the other servers would seem to ’suffer’ for not being able to afford first class. This kinda idea is dangerous in that it will promote yet another way for a company to skimp on full development and allow premium users to pay for the final product. Steps like these are becoming too common and while introducing 25 dollar mounts bothers me, premium service offers will absolutely have me taking my money elsewhere. I’m not paying to be a second class player in the eyes of a company. Never.

    • Gordon says:

      Thing is, unless Blizzard really screwed it up, absolutely nothing would change about the normal subscription or content or anything so it really only seems less “good” in comparison to the premium subscription.

  3. E3Jeremey says:

    I can’t say that I would bite at this as a service either. It’s a unique idea Gordon but to be honest I dong see the majority. Of players going for it. The real world economy and the fact that a lot of WoW gamers have to deal with it means their pockets wouldn’t be ready for it. Not to mention free 2 play and micro payment based mmo’s are making enrodes in Blizzards big player bases which means a price increase for extras may cause a revolt instead. Ask Atari and Cryptic how screwing with service and prices effects the player base

  4. Klepsacovc says:

    The premium servers could work, but it would create a terrible Experience on the regular servers, concentrated problems.

    • Lujanera says:

      Prior to coming to WoW, I played another game (called Dragonrealms) that went from a one-size-fits-all model to having three kinds of servers: normal, no rules, and premium. The price for normal remained the same, but no rules and premium cost more to play. It worked out terribly. Many of the good players migrated to the premium server and were not seen again. The bad players, by contrast, went to the no rules server, developed bad habits and eventually came back to the normal servers to be bothersome. I quit the game shortly thereafter because, as you say, it concentrated problems. I really hope Blizzard does not follow a similar path, but I fear that the profit motive is too strong to be resisted for long.

  5. Anonymouse says:

    I’d pay extra to leave behind the gold spammers and idiots. 2x or 3x the regular charge isn’t really an issue.

  6. Tesh says:

    Can I play the F2P version on different servers, then? I know how to turn the chat channels off.

    By all means, make a Lexus server… but why not go the other way, too? I’ll pay for my WoW with the inconvenience of ignoring idiots. I’ll even profit from their obvious mental incompetence by playing the Auction House game. “Fools and their money” and all that…

  7. Larísa says:

    I wrote about my views on this in a post a month ago:

    For my own part: yeah: I’d probably be prepared to pay more for a higher level of GM attendance. I’m not sure if I’d be ready to pay double the price though. I might think it’s worth it but I think my family might have some objections…

    • Gordon says:

      Maybe they could just increase the price for everyone and hire more GMs? :) I know price and all that but I’d really like to see more GM presence in the game to help maintain order.

      Thanks for the link to your post. I missed it first time round!

  8. Adam says:

    I’d be prepared to pay more to get on a server and battlegroup with overall serious players as opposed to drooling retards and penis drawing 13 year olds. But Blizzard will never do this as they need the serious players to offset the droolers for the experience of the average player.

  9. Drakenrahl says:

    Posting this on a mobile right now so I really can’t go in to detail, but when a game changes one of it’s core mechanics people leave. When people can’t play with the same peope for some reason out of there control they leave. When people can’t do what they’re used to because they can’t find enough people to do something, they leave. When people need to pay more money to stay competative, they leave. When Blizzard can’t make enough money to support it’s servers… They decided that they really should have launched scII sooner… and also close the offical WoW servers, and to be honest I would pay to have a private server purged from my computer.

  10. Passionario says:

    If I really wanted to exclude all strangers and undesirables from my playing environment, I’d make a private server. I don’t, because I want to play with other people. Even if I don’t want to directly participate in group activities with them, it’s still nice to have them around.

  11. Jeremy S. says:

    I don’t fully understand the math, but wouldn’t gold-sellers be just as likely in the premium servers as any other servers?

    For starters I would hazard the guess that even if it cost them more, they’d still turn a profit and any profit for a gold-seller is worthwhile. I don’t see them having to worry to much about overhead and the like. I think it’s strictly profit or don’t profit, and if they are profiting – it’s worth it to them. They just profit in areas, because they found ways and can do it. If they can’t find better ways on premium servers but can still profit, they’ll do it.

    On a side note: I would love to see WoW go entirely Free-to-Play. The many thoughts what that would do and mean sound so awesome in my head.

    • Gordon says:

      The theory I had was that if people paid more for their subscription then they would take the game more seriously and be less interested in cheating. Plus it would cost the gold sellers more for every account and thus cut into their profit margins.

  12. Silvermute says:

    A horrible idea in my opinion. I am another player who is without work at the moment, and going from £8.99 to £17.98 pcm would take the game from being an affordable luxury to being an unjustifiable expense. And as the immediate effect of such a change would be the ghettoisation (neologism ftw) of all the tards to the servers I could afford, it would probably make the game unplayable.

    The only way I could see this working for Blizzard would be if the increased margin from the premium servers offset the loss of all the players from the tourist-class servers. This doesn’t seem likely.

    Great blog by the way. Long time reader, first time commenter etc.

  13. gevlon says:

    I can’t believe, I agree with Klepsacovic.

    With serious part of non-retarded players leaving normal servers, these turn into retard-ghettos. Soon the non-retarded players who can’t afford the higher subscription fees would quit wow. Without people to boost the retards, they would quit too.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Paying 4x doesn’t segregate the best players – it just segregates who can pay more. Many of tradechat-analspammers will be glad to get the super elite premium status and will continue to analspam for 4x subscription.
    Goldsellers will actually prefer to work on premium severs, because if people are willing to spend that much on subscription alone, they are more likely to buy cheap gold to skip all the gold-earning nonsence like farming, dailies, crafting, AH etc.

    • Klepsacovic says:

      The fee isn’t what pushes out the retards, but the GM moderation. The anal spammers would be caught and banned. Or they’d just never go to the servers where they’d be at risk. Criminals avoid the police and gather where they are not.

      • Tesh says:

        One reason why it might be wise to set up more automated moderation. If you can be autobanned for spouting words marked as offensive, or if enough players /complain about you in a short enough time (much like how Puzzle Pirates autobans players who receive a couple of black spots in short order; it’s later reviewed by GMs, but the autoban gives players a lot of power to self-police the community), the society starts looking a little more unwelcome for abusers.

        • Gordon says:

          Autobanning on certain words may work but via reporting by other players is tricky as it can be abused easily. Imagine whole guilds clubbing together and maliciously reporting someone just to get them autobanned :( What they should do though is put a time delay restriction on how often you post in global chat or something or stop the horrific constant flood of gold adverts. Perhaps even set the time limit dependent on account age.

      • Gordon says:

        Yeah, another reason as to why I though premium servers would be an attractive concept. Maybe Blizzard should just the bullet and hire more GMs for every server :D

    • Gordon says:

      Perhaps yeah. I’d like to find out more about the EQ premium server to see how it worked there. I remember it being a big hit when it launched but apparently it ended up not doing well at all after a couple of a years and just became the hangout for the GMs themselves.

  15. [...] does best by asking thoughtful questions that provoke a lot of response. This time he is looking at premium servers as a method to improve communities in MMORPGs. His article is quite good and well reasoned. He [...]

  16. Gerald says:

    I think you miss the point when it comes to gold sellers. They don’t make accounts and pay for them Gordon, they steal peoples accounts and sell all of their gear and gold, and then use the remaining subscription on the account to advertise their gold through a level 1 that they make on the account. So all this means is people are going to be more annoyed by the fact that they’re paying let’s say $30 a month and then getting their accounts stolen.

    • Gordon says:

      That’s a good point. Maybe with the extra cash Blizzard could up their security a bit? ;)

      • adgamorix says:

        It’s got nothing to do with Blizzard’s security. Keyloggers and account theft come from 3rd party applications that you get from visiting naughty sites on the internet (and I don’t mean just porn) or from untrusted 3rd party addons. Clicking on fake links, etc. I’d be willing to bet that at least half of the compromised accounts come from Social Engineering “Click here to get into the Beta!” type mails.

        • Gordon says:

          True but that doesn’t mean Blizzard couldn’t increase their security if they wanted to. What about requiring a random question like your mother’s maiden name or place of birth or first pet’s name? Banks do that all of the time. Plus, couldn’t they immediately highlight and notify me when someone logs into my account from a different country? It’s unlikely that I’ll decide to play from Russia or China if I always play from the UK for instance. At least that way we could spot hackers more quickly.

          Fact is, Blizzard have created their authenticator tool and no longer restore accounts fully (they just give you a ‘first aid package of gear’) and no longer want to invest time or resources trying to stop the problem any more.

  17. zaozao2010 says:

    So according to you, players who pay more real life money deserve to be better than those ones who spend more time, in online games? WTF?!

    The koreans MMORPGs have been gone to the wrong direction because they offer tons of cash items that makes players who pay become always the strongest in game.
    But players who play better, that spend more time exploring the game’s content will always be 1 step behind those noobs that become strong by buying craps with real money.

    The real world money should not affect in anyway a virtual game, that’s how a game should be supposed to be: equality between players.
    If you are a rich in real life you already conquered your real money and now you guys wanna be rewarded in online games too? WTF!?

    “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.”
    Serious players or smart players who wanna get unfair advantage over others by spending money and not enjoying and playing the game as the real gamers do?
    Nice joke, gold buyers!

    I hope you are just another Tobold, fake gamer that buys lots of golds to become strong in the game easier.

  18. [...] hey, it’s a free world, right?  If people want gated communities, they should be free to pay for them, right? Let the market decide, perhaps.  There’s money to be made making people feel special… [...]

  19. SPIKE says:

    Gold farming aside, because i think blizzard supports it. Instead of premium servers just offer different account types. for 5.00USD a month ya get what we have now, for 15.00USD ya get everything now, but with x% less in debuffs, and x% more in drops rates and rep gains and leveling experience bonuses, and finally for 20.00USD ya get y% less debuffs, y% more in drops rates and rep gains, leveling experience bonuses, and priorty in all queues. also, each month ya can change subscriptions so ya can farm for a month or level.

    this way people can segregate in guilds but retards are still everyone’s problem. as for severs i really think blizzard should hire about 20000 more GMs for faction balances.

  20. Aaron says:

    I would absolutely not pay for premium, I would stop paying all together. Premium service would be a real douchebag manouver, and I really doubt Blizzard would consider it for a second. They only ever allowed for $ to affect cosmetic things like pets and mounts. Even buying a collectors edition doesn’t get you anything that will affect gameplay.

  21. GVNR says:

    Can’t say that I think this would work. I would however like to see a 18+ server or even 25+ server. Then again most of the asshats in the game are probably in these age brackets too.

    Personally, I think the way forward for Blizzard is by taking a leaf out of EvE Online’s book and make it possible to pay for the subscription with in-game gold. It’s worked for EvE and their MMO has been going strong since 2003.

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