DDO Europe to be merged with DDO “Global” : A Shocking Burst of News!

Update: This post is obviously rather out of date now. I’ve written an up to date guide for European players who move to the US servers here.

European subscribers to DDO received this in our email today:

Today we announce the next steps for Dungeons & Dragons Online®: Stormreach™ (DDO) for Europe. After operating the European service for over four years, our operating licence has now expired and it is with much sadness we announce our intention to transfer the European game service back to Turbine.

We have been working closely with Turbine on transition plans for European DDO players, and will be helping players integrate into the existing global DDO service operated by Turbine, where they will receive access to the latest version of Dungeons & Dragons Online®: Eberron Unlimited™ (DDO Unlimited).

What does this mean to you as a current European player? It means that Codemasters Online will continue to operate the current European DDO service until August 20, 2010. Beginning August 20th, European players will be able to play the global DDO Unlimited service operated by Turbine. To transfer your character to the global service, you will need to opt in with Turbine. Specific instructions on how to opt in to transfer your character will be provided in a later email.

The last full day of service will be 19th August, 2010. All European DDO game servers will be permanently inactive on the morning of Friday 20th August, UK time. The ability to purchase subscriptions will be disabled and all recurring payments will be turned off as of today. Likewise, the creation of new DDO game accounts/subscriptions is now disabled. For further information, please see our DDO Service Transition FAQ in the forums.

You can start playing on the global DDO Unlimited service beginning 20th August. Just create a free account at www.ddo.com and adventure again in the land of Eberron with no monthly subscription required. With the in-game store, you the player can choose how you pay and play. There are many great changes in the game, including guild airships, new hirelings, and many new adventures. When character transfer becomes available, you will be able to move your current DDO Stormreach characters to the newly created DDO Unlimited account on the new global DDO service. The service is currently available only in English, with additional languages expected by end of year.

As a loyalty and welcome reward, Turbine is offering all current and former DDO Europe players 5,000 Turbine Points (nearly a €50 value) when they transfer their characters to the new global service. The points can be spent in the DDO Store to add adventure packs, character slots to your account, and much more.

It has been a great pleasure for all here at Codemasters Online to work on a game that has brought the wonderful world of Dungeons & Dragons Online®, to the online gaming arena. Over the last four years we’ve had the privilege of working with one of the most passionate and considerate gaming communities we’ve ever seen and we hope that everyone who has enjoyed the DDO European service continues to manifest such attributes when the service transfers over to Turbine.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who supported DDO. In particular, a special mention goes out to those that went the extra mile, bringing the community the wonderful Stormreach Chronicle, player events and dedicated fan sites.

The Codemasters Online Team

Crikey. I expected DDO Europe to go F2P eventually, but I certainly did not see this coming. It’s not so long ago that Mythic also took control of European operations from GOA, but Codemasters have not really been guilty of any GOA-like mismanagement.

As a Premium player in the US, and an ex-subscriber in Europe, what this means for me is that I’ll be getting 5000 free points, and my old characters back, which is pretty awesome. The 5000 point deal is somewhat more generous than US players received when they went F2P, though there is more content that needs buying now, and the transfer system will be a little more fiddly.

Hopefully two new servers will be opened up with the same names as our original European servers, “Keeper” and “Devourer”, making it easy to keep existing communities together. It would be a horrible mistake to just try to roll the migrating players into the already existing servers, not least because all the good names will already have been taken, which would annoy the already inconvenienced newcomers. Nobody likes having to rename an already existing character, and migrating characters should have first dibs on their character names provided they head to the corresponding server. As I wrote in my last post, DDO could do with some new servers anyway.

I do have some questions though:

1. Will European players keep their Founder flagging, and any pre-order item unlocks for any character created? It might sound silly, but I was very fond of my founder’s hat. It made me look like Batman.

2. How soon will the non-English speaking players have access to the same level of support that they got from Codemasters? The Transition FAQ says “later this year”. That this important part of the necessary support is not ready from the get-go suggests to me that this has been quite a rushed decision to not renew Codemaster’s contract.

3. Will the European servers, if they are recreated, stay in Europe, or will they be consolidated in the US? I do seem to lag worse than my US friends when I currently play, so I would personally prefer it if the new ones were hosted in Europe.

4. What does this mean for Lord of the Rings Online in Europe, which is also currently run by Codemasters? It seems unlikely that they would keep one but not the other, especially with LotRO going Free to play. Will there be a similar announcement from the Codemasters LotRO team in the coming weeks?

Update: There has been the following statement on the Codemasters LotRO forum. Thanks to Gizbyt for the headsup.:

There aren’t any plans to merge the EU game servers with the US ones currently. When we go F2P later this year we’ll still have all the European servers and probably with some new additions to that list!

Update: The transfers have happened now. I’ve written an up to date guide for European players who move to the US servers here.

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