The TERA F2P conversion is coming on February 16th, and the game has seen a huge influx of players over the past week as En Masse gave previous subscription seven days of game time to get back into the groove. Having gotten back into the game during this time (and subbed for its final P2P month), I can’t help but be a little apprehensive about the free to play conversion.
Ever since the announcement (and the addition of seven days of free game time), TERA‘s three servers have been at medium to high at all times. Mount Tyrannas (PVP) and Tempest Reach (PVE) are at high capacity 24 hours a day. Celestial Hills, the game’s sole RP server, sits at a steady medium. To say that the game’s population has been given a significant boost would be understating the amount of players who have flocked back since the announcement.
En Masse assures that a fourth server will be added when the game finally goes F2P. That much is a relief — no one wants to go back to the queues TERA players had to sit through during beta and on launch less than a year ago. Even so, I question whether or not a single server would be enough. The people who are logging in now are those that were already subscribed, who had subscribed in the past, and those testing the game out on a Discovery Edition account. I can only imagine the game’s population once it finally goes free to play.
The Korean version saw a 300% increase in player population for the first week after its free to play announcement. They also added a single new server to cope with the surge of new players.
I have no doubt that North American TERA is going to need another server to manage the incoming playerbase, but is it going to be enough? More European players are making the switch to NA with the conversion, and South American gamers are already trickling in. These new additions on top of the new North American players may create a need for a second new server.
Community Rest? Unrest? PK-fest?
I, for one, would be happy if the brand new F2P members got herded to other servers. That’s terrible to say, I know. But the TERA community isn’t known for being welcoming to newcomers. You’re not going to get a lot of chances to do endgame content without some connections, and leveling through your 20’s and 30’s can be torture as it stands because of the community’s backlash against the free to play conversion:
Some players are choosing to hunt down newbies to make them quit before they even get really started. I’m not talking about your typical camping outside of Lumbertown stuff (though that is being done, of course), but hunting them down in lowbie zones if they can’t immediately be recognized as a P2P player.
GM joining in what TERA players do best: Camping the Lumbertown bridge
One way or another, the TERA community is in for a bumpy ride. While many players are enjoying their time getting in touch with people they’d lost touch with months ago, the playerbase is soon going to be given an injection of new blood that might not take.
At the very least, we’re going to be bothered with long queues in just a month’s time. At most, there is going to be a huge community rift between pure F2P players and Founders. I really don’t want TERA’s community to degrade into Aion’s, where new players are all but ignored by those who have stuck with it for a long time. Don’t get me wrong, I love Aion — but there’s no denying that Aion’s community is absolutely awful.
The Free to Play Tradeoff
The jump in player numbers is nice to see, especially as a player coming back myself. It’s clear that many people enjoyed the game but felt it didn’t warrant the monthly subscription fee. I, too, was in that boat.
Then I came back and jumped off the edge of the world. (Don’t do it, trust me.)
As sad as it is to say, the game is going to have to give up that sense of community it has in order to survive. The switch has the risk of a pay to win model, as En Masse has yet to comment on what exactly is going to go in the cash shop aside from Master Alkahests. That’s already pretty bad, to be honest. We’ll have to see what else they choose to put on the cash shop.
I trust EME, to a point. We’ve seen how they run under a pay to play business model, let’s see how TERA with a free to play business model survives under En Masse’s watch.