A further thought or three on server segregation and walled communities:
Also, tangentially, last time, Dblade noted (rightly, I think) that Role Playing servers are particularly susceptible to an influx of unwashed heathens. Would those who are really concerned about their little corner of the RP world be happier if they could just keep everyone out who didn’t have a club card? I mean, there are weirdos all over the place in these MMO things, you can never count on those other people doing things the right way. (Syp had me at “Sliders”. I loved that show’s early seasons…)
Of course, I must point out that with private servers, the sub model makes less sense once again. One may as well play with some mates over a LAN or just use someone’s spare desktop as a server. I’m sure many of those people already do so.
Would there be a market for legitimizing that segment of the player base? Or maybe, just maybe… sell the game like Guild Wars and let people play locally with friends (even solo… gasp!) without an internet tether to the mothership? Blizzard already subcontracts players as torrent bots for their download service, why not subcontract servers?
Sure, there will be layers of verification if someone plays “off the grid” and then wants to jack back into the matrix, but they could either just say “once on a private server, you stay there” or set up verification code in the private server sale package. (I know, I know, that’s not a trivial problem to solve… but hey, if you’re charging for the privilege of playing privately, there’s some money in the offering to pay for solving it, methinketh. I know we’ve blown the whole “cost-value” thing out of the water in MMOs, but still, using money to make the product itself better has a bit of history in commercial ventures.)
It is impractical, perhaps, for LOTRO or WoW to change that significantly… but might we see something like that in a future MMO? Really, if players are going to complain about those other players, the much-ballyhooed M for Massive in the acronym is already more like MIWFYQ rather than any sort of truly open, massively accessible world. (Maybe If We Feel You Qualify)
Maybe it should be My Multiplayer Online game.