What with all the fuss over LOTRO’s impending renaissance (or doom, depending on your crystal ball), I’ve been idly wondering what server segregation might do to assuage the fears of the fans of gated communities (M.o.B. is asking for some civility there; he’s not one of the snoots). <snooty>One must keep the heathens out, after all; imagine what it might be like if they outnumbered the veteran “real players”. They don’t even play the right way. Maybe we should just autodelete all the noobs every week. At the very least, we should tell them to go home.</snooty>
Puzzle Pirates has separate “subscription” and “microtransaction” servers, for instance, and it seems to serve them well enough. Each server has its own community, politics and economy, though there is certainly cross-pollination on the master forums and players who play on multiple servers. Incidentally, the microtransaction servers have been most profitable for Three Rings, though they happily maintain both flavors. Players play on servers that match their finances; happy customers are a valuable asset. Even if they aren’t subscribers.
On another hand, you could go with a “scarlet letter” approach, as I noted over at KTR, if you’re working with an integrated community, and make it visible to one and all how players are paying for their gaming. Maybe that would make the Old Guard feel better, as they get their warm fuzzies by denigrating the little people. <snooty>Sit in the back of the boat, you, you… casuals and tourists! Respect my subscription-granted Authority!</snooty> I mean, we already have GearScore and Achievement segregation in WoW and other pecking order mechanics in other MMOs (“I can’t believe she’s wearing that gear, what a noob”), what’s the difference, right?
It really is interesting how these MMO things tinker with sociality.
Some also bemoan the rise of soloability, occasionally with similar utopian fervor. In my mind, though, the continuing democratization of the business models and game designs of these MMOs is a Good Thing. That’s how the free market works, ideally; innovation and experimentation provide for variety, and the most profitable ideas rise to the top. Sometimes, they even prove to be the best ideas, too. We’re not quite a meritocracy, but a varied market does tend to work better than One Size Fits All economic theory… ditto for game design. I mean, Turbine couldn’t possibly be paying attention to the industry, could they?
But 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… especially if those people will pay handsomely (through the nose) for prestige (For the Horde!). Conspicuous consumption, indeed; <snooty>what good are expensive toys if you can’t show them off and make other people feel inferior? What good is it to be a member of the subscription elite if you can’t lord it over the inbred masses of free to play tourists?
Why play with other people if you can’t be better than them? Even segregation only matters inasmuch as players know that there are other places they could be, but they don’t qualify because they aren’t as good as someone else because of how they pay for the game.</snooty>
Pfeh. Lovely post-prejudice society we live in, eh? It’s very interesting to see long-held but long-repressed opinions come out of the woodwork. Funny how time and stress do that to people; candid opinions are far more informative than processed ones. It’s especially curious to me that the prejudicial cancer of the LOTRO community is based on things that haven’t even happened yet. As such, the real problem for the community isn’t really an undefined nonpresent boogeyman, but the attitudes already held by those already in the community.
It almost makes me wonder what the response would be to a zombie apocalypse. Sometimes, it’s the survivors that are the monsters…