After becoming available to North American and European players, Lost Ark, the hot new MMO, suffered massive server congestions, preventing players from entering the game. Those lucky enough didn’t suffer any stability issues, but those unlucky would have suffered their game disconnecting. They then would have had to wait in incredibly long queues to re-log into Lost Ark to resume their gameplay. Though the game launched more than ten days ago, on February 11, the issues with congested servers remain, with no clear resolution in sight.
In fact, it would seem that the game’s developer, Smilegate, has no intentions of increasing server capacity. According to Game Rant, Smilegate has acknowledged the problem and stated that there would likely not be a fix for the issues with congested servers any time soon. The game’s “western” publisher, Amazon, already offered players three free days of Crystalline Aura, granting them 7,000 free experience points (needed for gaining levels and progression) per minute, a companion pet that can repair and store items, and a 10% faster Life Energy regeneration. With that said, the Lost Ark servers are still congested, especially for European players.
Admittedly, Amazon and Smilegate already attempted to fix the issue by launching Europe West Region servers, which would alleviate some of the traffic from the existing servers. However, they didn’t offer free character transfers to current players, meaning those wanting to transfer would have to start the game from scratch. And considering how massive Lost Ark is, that might be an exceptionally tall order. It’s also worth noting that the game’s official Twitter page stated that increasing the server capacity isn’t currently possible and is not likely in the near future due to the game’s complexity.
With that said, we’d have to question the legitimacy of those claims. For example, Final Fantasy XIV also suffered massive server congestions, prompting Square Enix to pull the game from sales. The company managed to resolve the bulk of the congestions and reinstate the game for sale within 60 days of its removal from digital storefronts. Opening new servers for Lost Ark would require more money, and comparing Amazon’s net revenue to Square Enix’s, the advantage is clearly on Amazon’s side. So, if it’s not the question of money, what is it?
Well, Lost Ark had 1.32 million concurrent players, as counted by Steam, which is most likely a number inflated by the fact that the game is a novelty on the western market. So it wouldn’t be economically viable for Amazon and Smilegate to open new servers to accommodate all players, only to possibly see 20-30% of its player base leave the game after three to six months. This is purely speculative, of course, and doesn’t reflect the company’s lack of intention to expand server capacity. Perhaps it’s really a matter of limitations within the game’s systems. But Amazon could’ve at least offered free transfers for eligible players.
Well-established MMOs with massive server and realm counts, such as World of Warcraft, have previously offered free character transfers to eligible players. Players would be able to apply for a transfer from a congested, high-population realm to a low-population realm, which would balance the gaming population across regional servers, preventing congestions. It’s in Amazon and Smilegate’s best interest to fix the issues with congested servers in Europe and occasionally the US if they want to witness the prolonged success of Lost Ark, which is now available on PC.