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On Pid’s Hypothetical VIP Server Question

January 18, 2011

Over on Pid’s blog, The Meat Shield, is an intriguing question that touches on a lot of points that I’d think would be quite wonderful to discuss in a rational and civil manner. I shall attempt to do so, but will most probably devolve into spouting nonsense close to the end of this write-up. You have been warned.

Pid asks,

As a mature gamer (take that for whatever it is worth) would you be willing to spend a little extra cash on subscriptions to have access to a VIP server? Not to be elitist, but rather to get away from all the tots and twits for that matter! I imagine there would be some legal ramifications, but if you could get that ironed out, would it be worth it?

There are a couple of angles to look at his multi-part question as a whole, so let’s try tackling those angles, shall we?

1. The Nature of the Server

By this, I would have to ask, what constitutes a VIP server? Does paying a little extra allow folks added perks and whatnot, or does it simply raise another one of those hypothetical barriers to entry that I keep thinking about?

If there are no added features other than the ability to weed out people with less money, then I doubt it’d be a lucrative option for a company to take up. If there are substantial perks to maintaining a higher cost subscription, then it might be interesting to some people, but not if it goes over their allotted spending limit for gaming. I mean, one can simply turn off Barrens Chat (or its equivalent) by switching to a different channel or minimizing their Chat windows altogether, so why pay to get away from all the tots and twits?

2. Perceived Elitism

One issue that may arise from having a VIP server will be the stigma behind the denizens of that VIP server. To take a sci-fi analogy, imagine a VIP server as a seeming floating utopia that people who live on the land will think is either the promised land or an airborne Sodom and Gomorrah. People from the non-VIP servers may dislike a VIP player on the basis of perceived elitism, and vice-versa.

The most probable truth will be that a VIP server may weed out people who can’t afford the cost of VIP, and not exactly maintain an atmosphere of civility and grace that a utopia would presumably offer, since people are always prone to starting shit, for lack of a better term. In a nutshell, a VIP server will simply cause people to dislike other people based not only on differing personalities but also due to creating a “haves versus have-nots” situation, whatever that may imply to gamers.

3. The Victor Stillwater Angle

Victor Stillwater + ANY GAME = Instant Awesome.

Me not being able to afford VIP status = not awesome.

My blogger backlash = the spreading of outrage over my inability to play VIP = The downfall of VIP servers.

Solution: Give me free games and unlimited access.

While this is obviously a gross overestimation of my ability to influence the public and my ability to make things awesome, there is still a significant, vocal community out there that will condemn the very idea of a VIP server based on it being either an attempt to gouge consumers out of more money or for forcing some kind of segregation in the community.

I imagine this will lead to a lot of comparisons to Nazi Germany (Godwin’s Law), eventually leading to a “Rosa Parks situation” wherein someone who cannot afford to join the VIP server will join the VIP server anyway and never pay for the sub, thus getting arrested and shot by Spanish conquistadors in an open field.

That said, it might be interesting to have a VIP server, but I have doubts as to whether or not it will take off. At the very least, I find it impossible that they will allow for talking about Rule 34 on a VIP server, which would be a big step in stemming the tide of porn in the world.

 

EDIT: Stargrace notes in the comments below that Everquest actually had a VIP server back in the day, which means this isn’t a hypothetical anymore. In addition, Zubon pointed out that this has been a long-standing question, and his post back in 2007 reflects that. Take a look. πŸ™‚

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. January 18, 2011 18:14

    It should be noted that EQ1 actually DID have a “VIP” server that players paid extra to be a part of. They received extra special GM attention with guide events and had some different loot tables. As far as I know this server isn’t running now, but it’s certainly something that’s been tried in the past.

    • January 18, 2011 19:44

      I should probably rename the title or amend the post somewhat, then. Thanks for the info. πŸ™‚

  2. January 18, 2011 20:05

    It is a long-standing question. I have been playing League of Legends, and they are figuring out how to clean up their toxic free-to-play community.

    • January 18, 2011 20:11

      Hey Zubon! πŸ˜€

      To be honest, I don’t think I was even thinking of reading blogs outside of work back in 2007. I don’t think I ever saw that post. πŸ™‚

      That said, the question is a nice one to revisit, especially in light of things like LOL’s Tribunal and the wayback machine (EQ’s progression server) and whatnot. πŸ™‚

  3. January 19, 2011 04:02

    Doh, sorry for not doing my homework properly Zubon.

    Interesting points Victor. And yes I agree, any game without Victor Stillwater = Suck!

  4. January 19, 2011 07:59

    IMO, VIP servers never will be a big hit. Especially with all the FTP going on these days. Pay a premium sub and get better support! Get VIP Status! But in all reality most developers know that it’s going to be a niche, the true VIP server. They could get far more profit from cash shops .

    EQ did have it at one time and it died out. It was the Legends (Stormhammer) server which died out in 2006. It was about 40$ a month. When the server started (2002 I think?) there were not a lot of choices for other MMO games, at that time, and it was suppose to add more of a unique experience and better customer service. I don’t think that it actually did offer anything worth the price, I could be wrong, I never had the urge to play on it back then (I loved the community on my server). I think it was widely used as a means to transfer this or that by a lot of players.

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