User blog:ZeroTigress/The Big Picture

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Now that all the GDPR hubbub has simmered down, this is a good time for me to lay down all my thoughts over the whole matter.

For those not in the know (which I doubt since you're here reading stuff on the wiki), back in April, Gravity Interactive announced that they will no longer service players from the Europe region. Although they didn't give a straight reason as to why, the fact that the denial of service was to go into effect on May 25th (the same day that the GDPR was to be enforced) gave away a reason for the change in service region.

Obviously the iRO playerbase was not happy with the decision. Torches and pitchforks were waved around with some choice curse words at the publisher. The more levelheaded members of the community started speculating the whys. One theory was that perhaps the game was just too old to track data coming from the Europe region for RO publishers to be able to comply with the GDPR. Another theory was that the game was able to track all player data, but that iRO themselves was simply too understaffed to manage it all. But the one major theory that was tossed around was that it was all a business decision and the GDPR provided an opportunity for that business decision to get executed.

Many, including myself, were skeptical that this change in service was a business decision. Alienating a region of the world from playing on iRO didn't make much sense from a business standpoint. Those players have been on iRO for years, buying stuff from the Kafra Shop and purchasing VIP subscriptions. To just suddenly shut them out without giving them an alternative was a really bad business decision for any company.

However, everything changed when it was discovered that Gravity Europe SASU declared that they were now barring everyone not located in Europe from playing on their server. Suddenly the business decision theory started bearing more weight. Given that RO publishers are contracted to service players in a particular region of the world, it made sense for them to enforce that. Gravity Europe purchased the rights to service players in Europe, not iRO. Therefore, iRO never had any right to service the Europe region players to begin with.

But then, if only Gravity Europe had the right to service Europe region players, then why was iRO allowed to service Europe region players all this time? Or perhaps, they never were allowed, but GRAVITY simply looked the other way so long as iRO met profit margins?

From the very beginning of Ragnarok Online's history, it was always GRAVITY's intention to host the game themselves in every region of the world (similar to how Blizzard has branch offices all over the world to host their games). But because of the kiddie script hack early on in RO's life, which pushed GRAVITY to bankruptcy, they were forced to go through 3rd party publishers to host the game globally. Now it seems GRAVITY finally has the financial backing they need to be able to do what they always wanted to do: have more control over how RO is managed globally. This explains why in the past several years, they've been severing contracts with those 3rd party publishers to either take over hosting of a particular region themselves or replace the publishers with someone new (that they may or may not eventually absorb into GRAVITY itself).

For people who have decried the management of past RO publishers, this shift in RO hosting could be seen as a good sign of things to come. Although it all comes at the cost of separating a community of players for the sake of regional contracts. Personally, I don't think even North America players are safe from any service change even though iRO is meant to service North America. The fact that Gravity CIS and Gravity Europe were former branch offices of GRAVITY meant that it's possible that iRO could get kicked to the curb in favor of either another publisher or for GRAVITY to take over hosting themselves again. Considering how iRO has become a refuge server for players that have lost their own RO servers, it's possible that once GRAVITY has things set up the way they want in order to attract new players, they'll dump iRO like a smelly trash can of rejects.


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