Server populations in massively multiplayer online games can be a delicate balancing act. Popular servers are very much the hubs of these games, where players can easily forge bonds with one another in a lively social environment. But log into a desolate server and you'll wonder what the point of playing an MMO is when there's no one else around. Many developers try to balance server populations by offering free server transfers, and sometimes bonuses of one type or another as a reward for making the jump. This has been an issue for developer Square Enix with Final Fantasy XI and the overcrowded Odin server. However, their efforts to disperse the crowds have been unsuccessful, leading them to take a more drastic measure: forced emigration.

FFXI-centric website Petfoodalpha suggests that Square Enix's deportation solution (or alternately, world splitting) creates more problems than it solves. Fusionx writes, "Surely there has to be a better way to deal with this than randomly distributing people from the server to others. Friendships would be broken, linkshells would be destroyed. More importantly though for Square Enix: They would lose subscribers."

When a developer identifies a high server population as being a problem, and when players don't take advantage of free server transfers or other incentives, do the devs really have any other choice but to take away choice?

This article was originally published on Massively.
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