In case you are not actively following the Rift forums, you may have missed their announcement back in December that server merges were upcoming. They also reassured us that:
“The only impact to players will be collisions with player/guild names”.
At that point, we didn’t hear much else until May 10 when they told us that EU server merges would be first and happening on June 5. That’s pretty close. Unfortunately, the announcement only said that and listed the servers that would stay, but nothing else. Of course, a lot of questions came up. A week later, we finally received a FAQ. Most of the community’s questions were answered. Oddly enough, the collision of player and guild names is touched upon again in the FAQ, but there is apparently no decision yet how they will handle it. It seems likely that the characters merged from Zaviel and Gelidra to Typhiria will lose their names in case of a collision. So it is not really a merge, but a transfer to that server in my opinion.
Other than that, a few follow-up questions arose from the community, but one point in particular isn’t sitting too well with the players:
Question 3: What if people have more characters than character slots after the transfer?
Answer: The existing cap of 12 characters per shard (13 for those who purchased the Wilds Pack) will not be increased. If 12/13 characters already exist on the shard, some will need to be deleted before the transferred characters will become visible.
They are not raising the character limit! This is certainly a contradiction to December’s update saying that the only impact will be concerning your character and guild names. If you played on Gelidra, Zaviel and Typhiria and you’ve got more characters than allowed on one server after the merge, you will have to delete characters or your favourite ones may not be even visible. I would assume that you could manually transfer characters off Typhiria to the PvP, the German or the French server and keep them this way. Unless you like PvP or know German or French, playing these characters will be rather awkward, though.
What irks me most is the way this was communicated. We’re talking about players here who have most likely been around for a long time. How else could you have that many characters, and some players even wrote about a lot of level 70 (max level) characters? That is big investment, both in time and emotionally. In other words, these are Rift’s most loyal customers. The ground the community and the game stands on. And all they receive is a “Delete your characters”. Not even an explanation as to why they’re being asked to delete their characters, no apology, nothing.
World of Warcraft has also seen server merges. They changed the server character limit and increased it to the limit of characters your whole account could have which is 50. So, you can have these 50 characters spread out on different servers, or have them all on one server if you want. But nobody has to delete a character. Maybe this isn’t technically possible with the way Rift is built. But I think at the very least, the affected players should receive an explanation.
Also, while this is only for EU servers yet, the US servers will have merges as well in the nearer future. So they may have to make the same decision and delete characters as well.
I only have 12 important characters which are either actively played or hold items in their inventories and can delete my low level alts on other shards, so thankfully, I am not personally affected. But I am not comfortable supporting a company that asks its customers to delete something they have worked on for years. This is not how MMOs work. And it doesn’t show that they are willing to go the extra mile for their customers which, given how they announced they were closing Atlas Reactor, doesn’t show a too positive future for Rift either. Also, there is more than just the character that gets deleted. Some have dimensions (the game’s housing) attached to them, which means they will have to delete their characters as well as these dimensions. That’s even more work and time invested – and in some cases, real money invested in these characters.
June 5 is also the day Elder Scrolls Online officially releases its update “Elsweyr”, so I definitely know what I’ll be doing on that day…