11. May 2012 14:24
Recent announcements from Blizzard and ArenaNet have me thinking about the future of separate servers in MMOs. This week we found out that Guild Wars 2 will support something called “guesting”. Friends on different servers will be able to becoming a temporary guest on their friend’s realm, allowing people on different servers to play together. We also know that GW2 will offer a single cross server auction house as well as cross server guilds.
Also this week we heard that World of Warcraft’s Mists of Pandaria expansion will feature cross-realm zones, allow players from different realms (servers) to quest together in lower level zones that are currently mostly empty. On top of this WoW already allows cross-server dungeons and raiding.
S how long before the artificial server divide is a thing of the past, and we are all playing our favorite MMO in a same server?
Now don’t get me wrong MMOs will probably always require multiple hardware servers. A single server is not powerful enough to host 10 million World of Warcraft players. However these servers do not have to represent a different world/realm in your MMO. Server load can be managed behind the scenes as you are entering a zone or instance. Technically speaking separate in-game servers/realms/shards do not need to exist.
Not everyone is happy about these changes, some players are adamant that separate servers create server communities. Many WoW players complain that the cross server Looking for Group (LFG) tool has ruined the game for them because there are no consequences to your actions when in a cross server group. I remember seeing the LFG tool discussion in SWTOR where the majority of posts spoke against a cross server LFG tool. It’s hard to tell if this is just a vocal minority.
I personally applaud and like the new server-less reality of MMO gaming. I want to play with my friends regardless of what server they are in and that creates community to me.