After its mid-year launch, Age of Conan appeared to have all the trappings of a successful massively multiplayer online role-playing game, logging a strong critical reception and respectable initial sales. However, the MMOG environment is nothing if not hostile, and Funcom soon found itself scrambling to retain the game's player base, thanks to Blizzard Entertainment's genre stalwart World of Warcraft and Mythic Entertainment's strong contender, Warhammer Online.
In September, Funcom said that to maintain a healthy player community, it had decided to redistribute server population by merging a number of its game realms. On Friday, the Norwegian developer revealed on its official forums the extent of that consolidation, saying that it would be slashing its total server count from 49 to 18 beginning next week.
US-based servers will see the bulk of Funcom's consolidation, with 24 servers being whittled down to just six. The remaining realms will continue to cover the fundamental rule sets currently available, with player-versus-environment, player-versus-player, and role-playing-themed servers all still available. EU servers will see similar cuts, with 13 servers being merged together so that only four remain. Funcom said that it still plans to maintain its German, Spanish, and French-language servers.
Server consolidation is only the latest rough patch that Funcom has hit since launching Age of Conan in May. Along with merger news, Funcom revealed last September that game director Gaute Godager had resigned from his position, citing irreconcilable "dissatisfaction" over portions of the game. In November, the game maker confirmed staff cuts for its US operations, with various online reports indicating that up to 70 percent of the company's customer-service and quality-assurance teams had been laid off.