Divide And Enjoy: is IP Blocking And Localizing Necessary?
By Kei Beneza (dividelife), OnRPG Journalist
One of the biggest problems interfering in the life of MMO gamers worldwide is the games ability to block players from certain countries. In a way, the implementation of IP or region locking can be a big help to MMO players everywhere (will be discussed later). One simple reason would be the lag, as servers are most likely to lose their stability once the population exceeds its saturation point. Another thing would be to support their franchisers. Surely there would be no point in establishing local servers if players can still play on international ones, yes?
In terms of games like Mabinogi, a great fantasy anime themed MMO game, its availability to tons of gamers may already be too much for the server to handle. The population isn’t exactly diminishing by the minute; in fact, it’s still hard to play during peak hours. When you think about it, adding more players may greatly affect the experience of existing players. For those who are unable to play the game (like myself), lets hope they host this somewhere near us soon. Not all games are blessed with high-end servers that can fit ten thousand players without issuing the invisible bug that is ‘lag’.
People overload, lagtastic!
I know it’s annoying, especially when the IP banning is implemented after a player spends a gratuitous amount of cash on his/her account, but note that things are definitely for the better (at least for the others <_<). They aren’t really doing this to mess with their unfortunate users, but rather to eliminate those that hinder them from providing a more optimized experience.
Sales And Franchising
As for franchisers, it would be quite unfair for them if the locals were still playing on the international server. Let’s link this with current events like the Runes of Magic conspiracy. For those who are unaware, the game was recently hosted (locally) in Turkey. Now due to the establishing of this franchise, existing Turkish Players were banned from the international server and are forced to play on their local servers. It’s good for business, really. Have you ever played on a ghost town server? You wouldn’t want the Turkish server to end up like our Lineage 2 Server here (sad sad story… really). It’s really sad that they decided to ban existing players without plans for a character transfer. Believe me, I do understand the difficulty of having to transfer empty-handed, but it’s really for the best.
For some games that require subscription, the idea of localizing would be a welcomed system. One good claim would be that not everyone is capable of using credit cards to pay for games, let alone PayPal. Some countries (especially the third world ones) even prefer using prepaid cards. The economic crisis isn’t really getting better by the minute, to be honest. Some players find it extremely hard to dish out 14 bucks a month for a continuous experience. To tell you the truth, the item mall here is tons cheaper than the international ones (hope you guys don’t jump into our servers in a flash LOL). Maybe it’s because of the money aspect as not all countries find stuff tagged with $$ cheap. In Allods Online’s case, some western players rebelled against the system for issuing items that are quite pricey compared to their eastern market. I guess you could say that this is how things are balanced, as the prices in the other market aren’t exactly that cheap for the locals. So how do we do this?
Not that it’s that much of a problem, but advertising the said game in different countries may be quite troublesome for some companies. Once hosted locally, the franchised game can effectively capture their respective local audiences to experience the game. Unless they feature outdated content, I don’t think there’s that much of a difference between the two servers. Press conferences can also benefit from this aspect as players and local journalists can freely attend and cover the event without further delays. If you think about it, at least they wont have to supply one thousand PCs for the game testers.
“Hi! How Are You?” “ummffhjulgrrrr” “WHAT?!”
The bright side about dividing servers is that players can finally enjoy the game with other players who speak the same language, not to mention people who share the same culture. There are times when gamers experience culture shock upon logging into a game with different nationalities. The best example would be the KSers here in my country. After our servers were populated by foreign players, I’ve seen nothing but complaints in the GM section. Yeah, KSing (Kill Stealing) is LEGAL (please don’t rub it in T_T) in our country. I, being an international player, hate this part about our local servers, but it’s not like they know it’s wrong so we can’t really blame anyone for it. This form of division works well for communities as well, having an online forum especially for the locals.
In terms of events, not everyone can fly somewhere for a PVP tournament. It’s certain that MMO games will gather players once hosted locally, and of course hosting game-oriented events would be much easier for the company if the players didn’t have to take a 15 hr flight to participate. Though smaller than a big international community, the local community isn’t really that bad. Look at the bright side, you won’t have to encounter “ullfurglurka” when you randomly ask that Elf a question LOL.
Stand On IP Banning
Quite painful, if I may say so myself, but it’s really necessary for the game to improve further. Unfair as it is, it’s just business, and we definitely can’t do anything about it. I know I can’t erase the fact that some players ended up playing for nothing, but I hope I managed to state some reasons for you to continue playing on your local servers.