- Give leveling bonuses to low-pop factions
- Give relevant PVP rewards that are easier to obtain on low-pop factions.
Server size and faction balance is obviously a problem in classic TBC, that is only getting worse. The obvious solutions like merging and providing free transfers have significant flaws. Free transfers may make the problem worse, and merging may disrupt communities and only delay server collapse.
Players were incentivized to leave servers (by the classic phase 2 pvp, and again by TBC condensed leveling zones), so perhaps we can use incentives to stop, and possibly reverse, this trend.
Playing on small servers has some advantages already. This includes tighter-communities, and less competition for resources. However, there are many downsides to small servers, and servers that fall below a certain population on a faction become nearly unplayable. When your faction’s active player count is below 25 total players for example (my situation), endgame content is entirely unavailable.
We need to incentivize players to roll new characters on small servers/factions, and existing players to stay on small servers. We want to keep communities relatively intact, so any solution that counts on transfers is a bad solution in my opinion. The goal here is not to flood small servers, so I would NOT make transfers to small servers free. Some players will see the incentives as enough to justify paying for a transfer, but that’s on them.
Honestly some of the smallest servers are beyond repair and should just be closed. But for the still dying servers here are some incentive ideas:
In an ideal world servers are built up of player that have invested sweat and blood leveling and social-networking on their server. But practical players have no good reason to level on a small servers currently. I think a modest XP boost, and perhaps some cool leveling items (received by mail when hitting certain landmarks) would be enough to counter-act the pains of leveling without dungeon groups and limited group-quests. If enough players are similarly enticed then you can expect a very good leveling experience. The XP boost should be sticky, meaning it’s provided based on population when you roll the character (or hit certain levels), and not lost if the server pop does grow. It might expire after some amount of inactivity if the server grows, to avoid people speculatively creating characters on a bunch of servers. Since botters can already buy level 58s, I don’t think this would make the botting situation any worse (solve that problem separately)
So classic phase 2 and TBC leveling are over, but there are still incentives that continue to push PVPers off small servers. The big one is finding Arena partners. If small servers had some PVP advantage, then players might choose them. PVP is by nature competitive, so a server-faction specific competition seems appropriate. The incentive to be on smaller servers would be smaller competitive pool (un-normalized). I.e. it’s easier to win rewards on smaller servers. The rewards shouldn’t require serious PVPers to roll on small servers, but may make it such that rolling on large servers is not the obvious choice either.
The competition should be based on PVP objectives, which could be any one of, or combination of, faction boss kills, unique opposite faction kills (bounty), weekly honor, BG wins, etc. Perhaps modest weekly arena points can be gained based on how you score relative to your faction. These points should be on-par but not above what can be gained from arenas, and should be like an additional arena team, where the highest points option is what you get in a week (not additive). You could also gain vanity items or items with minor PVP perks (not usable in arenas) that are unique to this competition.
What do you guys think. Can you think of any other incentive systems that would work?