Vanguard: MMO on the Rise?

When I returned to Vanguard I played a lot on my recreated Mordebi Psionicist, doing Crafting, Diplomacy and Adventuring first in the Cliffs of Ghelgad and then in the area surrounding Khal. I farted around with a couple of other characters as well. I did see a few players here and there, but not that many, and never more than one or two in any single place.

Tonight when my Bard rolled into Jalen’s Crossing for the first time there were three players there. (“Hey, three other players! Wow, awesome!”) When I logged to jump over to my Psionicist and make some bags, I found half a dozen players in the Crafter’s Forum alone (“Gee, there’s a lot of people on right now.”) and about ten player boats parked out in the harbor (“The hell? What’s going on?”) And at Stupid O’Clock in the morning, no less, not at or even near peak time.

I am reluctant to jump to conclusions, but these anecdotes suggest to me that perhaps interest in Vanguard is on the rise. Could it be that population is already increasing just based on the news that Vanguard is going free to play? It seems possible given the crosstalk on forums and the like, but I haven’t any hard numbers to demonstrate it, and checking player populations with /who and the Player Finder tool is a dicey proposition. Nevertheless, I plan to do just that if possible over the next week or two. And even a small uptick now, before freemium has even hit, is suggestive.

Vanguard is an easy, easy game to be pessimistic about, given its history. Its population has seen increases before, during winback periods and when SOE offered everybody a month and a half of free time last year in response to the hacks, and those gains never stuck. But free to play and the promise of some future development is a literal a game-changer. If, as I believe, there are a decent number of people with warm feelings toward Vanguard but who haven’t subbed. I’ve heard a ton of people say they’d come back in a minute if there was development in the pipeline. Could those people be starting to trickle back in preparation for the transition?

It could be real increase, it could be just a blip, or frankly it could all be in Ardwulf’s imagination. But I have never, not even going way back, seen that many boats in the Khal harbor.

Ultimately, we will need numbers to prove whether Vanguard is on the upswing or not. Anything we can extract now is going to be very sketchy. Even after f2p goes live, SOE won’t release any information for months, and then it’s be translated into marketing-ese. But there is, thanks to Vanguard’s server architecture, a surefire way to tell, very granularly, whether the population is in fact booming. If the population of active players goes up by six or eight times, they’ll be need for another server.

I am inclined to think that the dream result of an f2p Vanguard with four to six active servers is edging into unrealistic. But extending those numbers, it only works out to maybe 20-30K active players. A small population by MMO standards, not impossible in this case but unlikely. At worst, though, we should see a packed Telon server, and that in itself would breathe new life into a game that’s languished and slowly withered for the better part of the last three years. It’s easy (yet scary) to dream big, but even the modest result would be a triumph.

7 responses to “Vanguard: MMO on the Rise?

  1. Great article!

    I am going to sub back to Vanguard, as soon as my EQ2 month is at end, so I can get the station pass! Anyway, would be awesome to meet you in-game! (I guess that Ardwulf is the same name on your main character?)

    Anyway, have a great day and keep up the work with these articles!

    /A guy from Sweden

  2. I have to agree. There does appear to be more players. True, I am just returning again myself, so I may not have a good sense of comparison. But I was in the middle of Gorgalog swamp last night and had a player ride past me and offer to group. In the middle of nowhere! Also, when I zoned into Khal there were half dozen players in my view. It’s cool to see.

  3. I think the numbers are on the rise. I took a month an a half off from Vanguard to play SWTOR (plus my dedicated group took a break for the holidays) but I kept in touch with the guild and found that due to events and normal holiday attrition, almost no one from the guild was logging on any more.

    Why does mine and Ardwulf’s guild matter when talking numbers? Well, Twighlyte Song was rumored and joked to be the largest of the guilds left in the game. It was daily recruiting a handful of people, mostly newbies who had never played Vanguard before and at any given time of the day there was an average of 20 – 30 members logged in. The last few times I have logged in over the last week have seen the member numbers ranging from 10 – 20, and that has jumped and stablelized from the 5 – 6 I was seeing right after resubbed. Oh, and I noticed that the recruiting has started up again as well.

    So, the word is getting out there and the interest in Vanguard is growing both by old players and those who have yet to set foot in Telon. Kanyl, if you get in game feel free to add Quert to your friends list or Vanerous. I will make sure you get into our guild so you can have ready access to our knowledge base and help early on. Once you get to level ten and if you play at the proper times you might even be able to join my static group as we have a couple of slots open still before we have a full group. We will be playing Sunday’s at 6 am Eastern Time (US) and Tuesdays at 8 pm Eastern. I am not sure if the time for Tuesdays is accurate, but we can hash that out later as we have not started up the regular runs yet.

    • I am one of the returning guild members. I was happy to see, after about five months away, that I’m still in the guild. As a solo player, I appreciate the buzz of conversation in guild chat.

  4. I’m logging in to Vanguard more often at the moment because of the publicity and especially the veteran rewards. I could have logged in at any time, of course, since i have an All Access pass (well I don’t because they no longer exist for UK residents but they appear to still be honoring it. Be interesting to see if they are still also charging me for it later in the month. But i digress…)

    My behavior in game has changed a little, too. I put a level and a half on my goblin bloodmage last night. I haven’t played him for several years and didn’t consider him to be an ongoing character but i wanted the Bracelet of Dawn for him and he was only level 8, so…

    As per your other post, the real defining factor on how much Vanguard I play after it goes F2P is when other MMOs launch. I am hoping, even expecting, to spend at least six months in GW2. Unless it’s nowhere near as good as I imagine it will be, I probably won’t want to play anything else for the rest of the year. It would suit me a lot better if Vanguard went F2P next month but at least there’s a solid chance now that when I want to come back to it in the future it will not only be waiting for me but will have grown.

  5. I think you’re right, people wanting to pop in and dust their characters off in preparation for F2P. Test the waters in anticipation, plus those vet rewards. I’ve seen a lot of players on lately, compared to the last few times I’ve played. We’ve even had some competition in the lowebie dungeons, heh.

  6. Perhaps I’m a real rarity, but I’m a new player who has bought the game in anticipation of the F2P relaunch because I wanted to snag a few vet rewards AND because I want to see the game now before the ‘hordes’ are unleashed😉

    Also if I’m really lucky I’ll manage to grandfather a few race or class unlocks at least on the characters I’m creating now whilst subbed.