The Issue With Private Servers

Greetings everyone,

I’m here to discuss an idea that I believe would help out my fellow private server owners. Before I get too deep into this subject, I’d like to congratulate Funcom/Tencent on the work they put into conan exiles. They’ve made extreme levels of improvement over the last 3 years of me playing the game & I hope that you all continue to go in this direction!!!

Now, on to the point, anyone who has had a private server should know that the 3 most difficult things about server hosting is

  1. Marketing
  2. Player Retention
    & 3. Keeping the server running smoothly

I want to discuss the issues surrounding #1. I have advertised my server plenty of times within my community. I’ve gotten very creative in the ways I managed to reach out to people without disrespecting or treading on other private server owner’s hard work.
Through many attempts, it has become apparent that getting people to play on a custom server is a hard sell.
Most players would rather play officials or “the vanilla game”. Some take the extra step & say “customs servers are for pu****s”. I totally respect their opinions & are in turn not worried about those people. The people that I’d like to focus on are the one’s who’d be open to the idea of playing on a private server but would rather not take the risk of having their time wasted by a person with poor administrative skills.

Now, do we threaten to E.M.P their house just because they don’t wanna play on our servers? Of course not! I’ve decided to take a deeper dive into why EXACTLY do they believe that their time might be wasted. Here are the top 5 reasons:

  1. Admin abuse- This, by far, is the number one fear people have with trying a private server. We all know what admin abuse is so let’s move forward.

  2. Already dedicated to an official server- this is understandable. I don’t know how true this is but I hear talk of Funcom/Tencent potentially adding an official way to transfer loot between servers. I already do this myself but its a drag to look at screen shots & spawn in
    Every item in exact amounts.

  3. Server Shutting Down- Now this is a fear that people have where they don’t support a server hosted in fear of he/she shutting down the server & the players loses all of his/her progress. In my experience, everything has a chance of Shutting down but the chances are lower when the owner of the operation sees the numbers. If there’s 30-70 people that consistently play on my server, I promise you I’m never Shutting it down,lol.

  4. People want to play with other people- a common question I’ve been asked constantly is " how many people are on the server?" Well, I don’t want to lie to him but I’m very well tempted to do so. I told him (at the time) that I have 5 people who log on & play consistently everyday. He said " no thanks, I’ll join when you have more people". Funny, because I have like 13+ other people who told me that today. 5 can’t get to 7 without 6. If he would’ve joined & played, I could boast 6 players which would be convincing to the next populated server hunter out there then I’ll have 7 & so on.

  5. What’s the point of custom servers?- I’m my opinion, the point of custom servers is to overall improve a player’s experience & fun with the game. At least I’d hope so. For example, on consoles, the player limit on official servers is 40. A custom server can expand that capacity by an additional 30 for a total of 70 players of one server. Imagine. Not to mention the events.

Honorable mention- advertisement sounds to good to be true- for some reason, people don’t believe that custom servers can out do official ones. With a little ingenuity & dedication, you can come up with with some cool tactics and ideas.
Example: On console, I had a server called Isles of Siptah Early Access. How can one get early access to something that’s not even released on consoles yet to people playing on console? Simple. Before the new map dropped, a major update was released about a month prior that added tons of new content from Siptah for free to anyone hosting a private server. I decided to market that to the community & it was still a hard sell even to get them to leave their server for 2 minutes for me to spawn it in. Can’t do the screen shots cuz “oH DaTZ oN pC”. Not to mention some other marketing tactics that I’ve tried for years.

Solution: Can custom servers be given a 5 star rating system with comments enabled under a “details” tab? This should give players more confidence in putting their trust in servers if they have good reviews, make server hosts not feel like they’ve wasted their money renting out servers that can’t get populated due to just bad reputation for custom servers as a whole & supporting the game in general. It just feels like we’re paying for a job at times. Oh, and make it to where they have to have a certain amount of time played on the server before they can leave a review to keep the trolls down.

*Now that I’ve said my peace, I hope that I can get some good feedback from the community & if it’s a good enough idea, it’d be implemented in a future patch. If I’m not understanding something or I’ve made a mistake somewhere, please let me know & Thank you all for reading to this point if you did!

*edit: Some grammatical errors fixed.

3 Likes

To be fair, any idea to help build and maintain custom servers is welcome. We advertise like fiends but we get the same results that you have described. My personal favorite are those that join the Discord first and then bounce not 2-minutes later. I don’t even think they’ve had time to read the rules lol.

I like your idea, I do, much like any other service available out there, you want a system that allows happy customers to give their two cents on why they like the service. The only potential problem I see, as one would expect, is bitter players or just plain trolls. I don’t really foresee it as a major problem, but you’ll have to expect at least some kind of negative reviews, even if they aren’t true.

Overall, though, I still like the idea. It may not be much but it’s another layer that can certainly help.

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It is true that maintaining a healthy playerbase is difficult on a custom server and the more you deviate from the norm or vanilla settings, the more difficult it can become.

The first server I hosted was a vanilla PvP server 3 years ago and it did alright. One of the more recent servers I hosted was a heavily modified Siptah server RPPvP with hundreds of hours of custom Mushi content and it did just about as okay as my first vanilla server lol.

I’ve given up on trying to advertise and keep people interested. Instead, I try to provide the information and tools for the players to build upon the server themselves and increase the freedom of the sandbox experience while I focus on enjoying the game myself as a player and taking part in the community and administration responsibilities.

Some stick around, most people do not. A lot of people (in general) have a poor attention span, low amount of patience, and absurd expectations.

Those last three characteristics have been prevalent to me in all facets of CE over the years.

To me, I would rather have a low playerbase of quality, interesting, exciting, motivated and community driven people who enjoy each others company rather than mass amounts of random people who log in to build a box, spam pillars, build crap in dungeons and vaults, never say hello, and leave 2 days later to never be seen again.

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I can tell you few reasons why I do not do official nor someone private server.

1> The game has alot bugs that kills progression and without Pippi control you can get sacked easy.
2> Official servers offer way to little and focus to much on pvp mechanics even on PVE. As they adopt the same mechanics across the board.

3> Populated private servers run it like a business, most are not looking for someone policy or rules but interaction and I have found even high populated ones to be not down to earth fun gaming.

4.> People are looking for more then just someone building a lot of great content offered to them. but as well to have some great interaction that matchs the low count of players?. Servers are only in a low count in the first place but more populated are ran as if it was a mmorpg.

5.> Pippi, did I say playing the game without admin ability to recover hours of gaming just because of a glitch is key to a great experience? The key reason why the majority play with just friends that is close nit that has a trust establish or on there own server alone. <----

I have had people play for months leave and start all over again months later. Fellow came on yesterday been gone for a year plus it’s the people you meet that makes it worth while . On your one point players do want to know if you are going to keep the server up and I don’t blame them at all. Had a few shut down right as things were going well my self. So we got our own a month or so after launch of Exiles. A rating would be interesting.

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I wouldn’t say focus as much as just includes. The pvp is severely shallow as far depth of mechanics. They exist, but the same pvp mechanics are used to fight in pve against npc’s.

This right here.

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My experience with private servers -
“Hi, go to our website and read the rules”.
Done
“Okay have fun”
yawwwwn

"Hi, you have to join our discord’
Why?
Its the rule.
Bye

“Hey we rented a server, lets all go play on it”
Ok
“Where is everyone?”

Basically, dealing with personalities that want to control you is not my thing. I have tried three different private servers randomly and found this is always true.
Asking for my personal information also is a big NO.

The fourth private server was actually some friends of mine, and they just went crazy with mods and people started arguing too much.

We actually had a great community on the Official server I have played on for around three years, but some toxic players chased off everyone.
They are gone, I am still playing there, so I am not sure why everyone ran.

2 Likes

Yes, I see your point. This is why the server rating system is important. You randomly picked 3 servers & all 3 pooped the bed. you could have made a better choice of servers if you had more information to go on. This new rating system will help ensure that you get the most updated reviewals possible. Official pvp servers are bane of conan, hear me out. They get packed for a while & then deplete the overall population due to the toxic nature of pvp. Everyone grinds, fights & gets wiped (either online or offline) & lose countless hours worth of materials & resources.

Some ppl will go to PvE because they genuinely enjoy the game its content & do not wish to worry about getting offline raided but instead have to deal with either an increased grind or lack of end game content. As a moderator, we (generally) try our best to give everyone the best of the Conan universe & try to enhance it further so everyone can enjoy the game by creating social events, pvp rules & the discord to ensure that everyone gets access to the same information reliably. Private servers are ran like businesses because technically they are businesses. We spend out money on over head, spend hours event planning, marketing & fussing with gportal to make sure you get a healthy experience all for free. All you have to do is say, “hey I’ll give it a try” but the thing is, most people don’t.

They go straight to the lawless official zone where they literally offer you nothing for your time but more grindy updates, endless war & over nerfs of gear while we sit in the trenches trying to figure out how can I get this guy to at least try the server? I feel like a chumbucket that actually sells krabby patties but people won’t come because of the bad rep from planktons chum bucket if that makes sense.

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See, I’ve had a totally different experience when it comes to private servers. I started playing the game on single player so zero issues to contend with. When I finally ventured onto servers, I ended up going the route of a private server BECAUSE of everything I had heard about officials. I was hoping to find something that had oversight but I still avoided the modded servers. A lack of understanding (the usual fear of the unknown) kept me from being on them for awhile still. I’m certain I can’t be the only one who looks over the mod list for a new game and simply says, “single player it is!”. :rofl:

I have three private servers now that I use (each with a different map) and while having other players around is great, even if they didn’t play, I’d still keep them running. Its my playground.

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I too run a private server that I just use as my own personal playground. Mostly because I dislike the limitations of singleplayer mode, since I’m not holding my breath to actually play this game with anyone else any time soon.

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Most of them have weird rule sets… thats it. x10 gather or some other thing that sets it off. Or High exp gains. Always some setting thats adjusted way to high. When I went looking in early days, it was 90% those… and was hard to find those last 10%, then weed at bad Admins.

Or they have some odd rule about not doing certain things, and clearly someone on server is doing said actions. I see you leaving those campfires all over -_-’
=p

Admin Abuse… its there, it happens. What normally is issue thou, Is how many on Server are Admin Friends. How much benefit they get, and when a argument happens, will they be on everyone side for dispute.

Personally, Private servers with meet ups, I enjoy. Like Saturday is Raid “???” Alt PSN account, with npcs and thralls all over.

Or Sunday meet up for Arena PVP.

I’ve run into few of these… across alot of games. =/

Just a FYI, only about 1 in 8 players actually play on officials. That means 7 out of 8 are playing on private or single player. Ironically the officials have the biggest issues with retention for various reasons.

With that said, the number of servers exceeds the numbner of players over all. So your issue is competition. You need to offer something players will want to play on.

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Ya, I’ll toss my two cents in on this.

My biggest issue with privet servers is… they vanish.
I’m retired, Conan is my game, been a fan since the dark horse graphic novels.
Been playing since it dropped. And I take forever playing. I love to build.

Second is all the freaking mods. Last privet I tried to play on had no less then 22. 3/4 of my time was spent waiting on one or another update. Half the time I couldn’t play because the server needed an update.
I play solo with 3 mods. QOL, paragons leveling, and pickup+. “The more complicated the plumbing the easier to stop up the works”. Civilized and Max nude.

PVE. Or PVE with arenas/battle areas. Played one that was PVP on the weekends, but no building damage. The hunt was on. The only time there was more the 2 or 3 on. It was up for about 4 months and… poof.

If I had the $40, I’d get a server just for me, but if you want to play fine, just don’t bug me :smiley:

My experience with officials are they are old, dead, and/or hacked.

I solved my mod update problem by setting up my servers to be reset from my phone… then I can be in a different state and still update them on the fly.

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For Dedicated servers, I indicate the server has been paid until [INSERT DATE] so players know at least when its paid up to currently. When its close to renewing, I update the date accordingly to the annual renewal date.

Marketing/Advertising is definitely a difficult one since you can post in ton of places and get zero players from there but new players may pop in just finding your server by accident.

Maintaining players on any server (dedicated or official) is always hard. Some players like to play casually, others do not have time (work/family) or some may get bored and need to take a break from the game every so often (see this happen on MMORPGs as well). I am always happy to see players return to my dedicated servers.

Keeping a server up and running is the biggest project for Admins (eats more my play time than I would like sometimes, but that is the life of a server admin)

Each dedicated server has its own rules which you may or may not like. I prefer players connect to Discord since most of the information is usually posted there but they are not required to do so.

I am pretty laxed overall, but blocking spawns/special locations is one issue I would fix when necessary. (Although I have yet to have this issue occur)

Some like playing on Dedicated servers for the mods, and other setting changes. Others may find it overwhelming, takes too long to log in, or breaks the vanilla game. Each dedicated server is unique in its set up.

My player base does fluctuate from active to dead for the last year. Most of my players are very casual. With no decay, it helps keep casual players coming back periodically.

I am oddball in a sense since I still play on two Official servers, while managing/playing on my dedicated servers and pop on another player’s dedicated server every so often.

3001 Ways to Die (Senior Admin) Server Cluster (Exiled Lands, Isle of Siptah and Savage Wilds)
Currently paid til Dec 2021, Nov 2021 and Mar 2022, with plans on renewing or moving to a new server company for another year.

2 Likes

There’s a few problems with your statements.

  1. When people get the game, they generally aren’t aware of the existence of custom servers & often want the original experience of the game. They hope on the most populated server that they see with is usually on an official server or wish to play solo & learn the game 1st before going to pvp. The admins have to market to these individuals, bring them over to their server & maintain their playerbase which is no easy feat. This leads me to…

  2. Most issues that arise from official servers are generally created by other players 8/10 times. This causes the victim(s) to either quit the game or go to another server. Usually the 1st before the second. If it’s the second, the player will go to a custom server ONLY if he/she has hear about it before & thought it might be interesting. Which leads me to…

  3. I’ve been at this a long time. I’ve seen many custom servers come & go. most of them are dry & the only successful ones that I’ve saw are the PVE, RP & PvP 10x Insta thrall, insta craft, no drop on death ones. They each cater to a specific type of player.

  4. What about the people who aren’t looking to have the game handed to them on a 10x insta everything server? Whom also doesn’t want to play PVE or RP? What about that person who doesn’t want to play solo mode anymore & is looking for a good server to play on?? This is a different kind of market of players that many admins like myself advertise to. If you read the original post up top of the list of reasons people (or any of the other posts on this thread) don’t want to risk playing on custom servers, you’d understand why it is important to have A player based review system. Most people want to play customs servers correct!

BUT… they don’t want the BS that possibly comes with it so theyre either trapped on the official servers or pressured to take a risk with another one that has even more problematic risks that an official one’s. My problem is not competition, it’s PLAYER CONVERSION RATE due to things I cannot control. Custom servers have a bad reputation for admin abuse & shutting down. People like myself didn’t do it, it’s other people who ruin it for everyone that genuinely wants to have a great experience. The few players I have (9-10 people playing depending on the day) love it. If only more people knew that servers like mine existed, people who put in the time & work doing administrative work can get more bang for their buck & feel less frustrated. Putting up 10x Insta (put it here) sells itself but anything outside of that requires some decent marketing skills.

*Edited spelling & change some sentences for clarity.

Custom servers have a bad rep for admin abuse, officials have a bad rep for poor server performance and no moderation. However where do you think the general movement of players is going?

Is it from Private to Offfical?
Or is it from Official to Private?

I’ll answer that for you. Its the latter. It used to be 1 in 5 players played official. Which was significant considering the number who played single player. In three years that number dwindled to 1 in 6, to 1 in 7, to now 1 in 8.

There’s no issue with anything I’ve said, as these are indisputable facts. Steam numbers don’t lie. And since we can sort by officials in game, we can (and I have on several occasions) count the number and make the comparisons.

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It has come to my attention that , although the player base is growing nowadays , alot of people are leaving the game because of admin abuse on private servers… Ok it is a private server with rules made up by the owner , and i do not have any problem with any rules whatsoever as long it stays fair and fun! However there are some servers that are poison for the Conan player base. I recently got into some beef with a server for telling the truth… When an admin raids you with commands it is cheating. When an admin just shift deletes your horse because he dislikes you its admin abuse. When an admin griefs you with spawned in dragonpowder and siptah weapons (on exiled lands) it is cheating. If an admin helps another player to raid another it is cheating. They cannot handle pro players dominating their server so they do everything to keep them small… Even change their own rules. And the worst of all is that some servers have a pay to win system where players donate money to the owner and they get privileges and gear in return giving them an advantage on other players and taking away money that the devs could use to develop the game. Now tell me if this is fair or not. And if that is not enough they gang up on everyone speaking out about what’s happening in the server , they go on every platform spreading lies and make sure that everyone that is making a fair complaint gets banned or removed… Is that the kind of admins/serverowner that you want? For the people that are interested , i have a list of the worst private servers and best private servers to go to. Hit me up if you would like to see it.