With the all-but-confirmed US-1 (or NA-1) server being geared up for release, many in the DarkFall (and ForumFall) community are wondering if the player base can support two separate servers, using the current in-game population as a barometer. The all too common “if Aventurine can’t fill EU-1, what will happen with the US-1 split?” argument often finds its way into any thread on the topic.
What I don’t see mentioned often is the current state of DarkFall in terms of availability, advertising, and overall ‘buzz’ generated by Aventurine. For starters, it’s only very recently that DarkFall has become available 24/7 at the online store; previously all buyers had to play ‘is the shop up?’ and hope they were lucky enough to have the shop load for them during the availability window. While that release strategy worked well to keep the in-game population under control and prevent first-month flooding, it also kept a lot of potential buyers out, as not everyone is going to be crazy enough to camp a website for a chance to buy a game. Yes the fanatics did it, but even in a niche like the one DarkFall is filling, only a percentage are willing to go THAT far to play.
Beyond the shop going 24/7, Aventurines own website promoting the game has yet to receive an update, and if someone is only passing by they might assume DarkFall is still in beta. How many more potential customers could a simple “DarkFall is out, click here to buy” button attract? Furthermore, a full update to the website, including some kind of “What’s already happened in-game” information could also draw new players to the game. EVE is famous for this, as anytime a big event happens it gets a ton of publicity and the stories draw fresh eyes to the games possibilities. Already DarkFall has seen it’s first major event (the fall of Hyperion) and some player-driven story published on the official site would really help to show people exactly what has drawn the current players into the game, distancing it a bit from the ‘Fantasy FPS’ image many have of DarkFall.
Going one step further, how about some damn advertising? We all know internet advertising is cheap these days, so when will we see a few DarkFall banner ads on Massively or other MMO sites? When a small MMO blog like this site here still gets “Is DarkFall out” in the comments, you know a ton of potential customers are not even aware of your games status or even existence. Sure it’s a niche product, so you don’t need Mr. T advertising ganking noobs on TV for DarkFall, but I’m sure many players that DO fall into the DarkFall niche might not be aware of the game.
It’s also a bit foolish to discount all of the players who are interested in DarkFall but are simply waiting for the North American release, afraid of bad pings to the EU server or simply not wanting to bother playing on a temporary server, especially since the full details of a transfer, if there even is one, are unknown. Before DarkFall went live on EU-1, Aventurine announced that a North American server would become available at a later date, so it’s not surprising some fans decided to wait.
Edit: Oh, and right as I finish writing this, Tasos gives the community an update and echo’s some of my statements. Now if only he had not linked to a site which dubbed his game ‘beyond repair’, but hey, even DarkFall news releases contain some bugs.