Today, Trion announced what they're referring to as "free server transfers", and Massively quotes Scott Hartsman in the press release as saying:
"MMOs are all about playing with your friends no matter which server they're on, and that's why we're offering this as a free service to our subscribers."No matter which server they're on, huh, guess that makes sense since MMO's are all about playing with your friends. But what is this fine print about transferring to "select shards"? The FAQ has the answer:
"We want the shard you select to provide the best experience possible. It is important that there remains a balance between Guardian and Defiant players and to that available shards do not become too over populated or unbalanced. For this reason you will only be able to move to specific shards we’ve selected to accept new transfers, please note the shards available for transfer may change over time.So, I can play with my friends so long as we all mutually agree to transfer to another server with no guarantee that we will be allowed to return to our original server. That would be the opposite of being able to play with your friends no matter what server you are on, because transferring would cut you off from the other friends who convinced you to roll on that server in the first place.
So what's really going on here? Let's ask Wilhelm:
"Announcing server mergers is always viewed as bad news.My guess is that doubling your server count in the first week is actually a very bad plan in the traditional server model. The only people who are able to change servers just because they don't like their queue times are the tourists who are arriving with no social ties, who are the most likely to leave their new servers deserted at the 30 day mark. This approach was bound to leave them with some servers that are empty, while others remain too crowded to actually allow the kinds of unrestricted transfers Scott is talking about.
But announcing free server transfers, that is a huge win. Not only will your population take care of your server mergers for you, how and when they want to (some people love to play on nearly deserted servers), but the good publicity makes Rift look like a game you really want to play."
Leave it to the clever folks at Trion's marketing department to find a way to spin population redistribution as a revolutionary new feature. That said, I wonder if they may have gone too far this time - the reality is so far from the market-speak that some players may end up feeling burned, especially if they only learn the true nature of the restrictions after unwittingly taking a one-way ticket off their home server.