@TakuBoto I don't really have much I feel I can add to the conversation. Much of my opinions have been more thoroughly expressed on the Insiders Forum thread, but that thread has gone without a proper response for sometime now. Feel free to head on over there if more feedback is needed.
Its clear there is a fair set of individuals who are going out of there way to condemn anyone who has an opposing view than themselves (on both sides of the conversation). Regardless, The custom servers have been a great experience so far IMHO. I am not going to speak for any player here, and not going to claim to represent any "majority" or "minority" in the community. Its a Sandbox game and I play my way, not your way; both from a PVE and PVP mindset.
Having said that I would like to if I may turn the conversation towards a point that both on here and indeed on Insiders, does not seem to be discussed at large, and I would like to hear some of the thoughts and opinions on this point from both spectrums of players.
So in the Initial update, understanding that its just an initial test run with limited features, a point made by Executive Producer Joe, was:
With the above point in mind, it is likely that Custom Servers will eventually be an optional feature that players can access from the Pirate Emporium. We want to learn more about the desired feature set, usage and cost before deciding exactly how to make this something the wider community can access.>
The highlighted portion I think is a key area to consider. If these end up being Servers that must be paid for, for a determinate amount of time, by what conditions should these paid servers have any form of limitations from the base game?
Bare with me; This would not be the first game to offer Paid Private/Custom servers. EA most notably has been doing and offering this for years now (among other Publishers). The Battlefield franchise has been offering Paid custom/private servers for years, across many iterations of the game since BF3. These servers allow no gimped aspects of there game. The full multiplayer spectrum is accessible, and able to be utilized both for private games among friends that contribute to progression, as well as allowing for custom rule sets that gear the game to your design while again still ensuring progression for the Multiplayer. Even now, I can log into BF3 -BF4 - Hardline - BF1 - BF5 and purchase a custom server and play to my liking.
Now again these are not the only games to allow Private or Custom servers with progression of there game. Off the top of my head, even the popular monster of a franchise; Halo had custom game modes, and private match lobbies that still retained progression. Still accessible in Halo 3, 4 and part of 5 (Reach I am not aware of at this time). Even COD:MW introduced custom servers for some of there Matchmaking modes (though I do not play COD so my knowledge of there full features is limited) While not a Custom server, even Fortnite has a "Custom Matchmaking Key" where you can essentially control who you are matched with, and could be construed as a Custom Server for a Match. Even the new game growing in popularity Grounded offers a fully Solo experience without the need for Co-Op. (I site this one because players of the games Rust and Ark had often wanted a version of a Survival sandbox where they could just engage in the world and not with players, and this does provide that, again to a point)
The thing I am pointing out is simply that in those powerhouse franchises (and others) that have existed far longer than SoT have had exactly what (to a point) PVE players are asking for, and from what I can observe there was no dead playerbase, and no adverse effect on the games as a whole. (And those were explicitly PVP focused games with NO PVE - out side of a campaign mode in certain instances).
With how this relates to SoT, I question how it would be considered appropriate to charge anything for what could objectively be called a "Gimped" version of the game. You already Pay 50$ for the game on a base level, and even if play for free through Gamepass, you still might wish to purchase the game outright. While cosmetic only, there are Paid MXT in the game, with one being a recurring purchase of Ancient Coins, and the Appearance Potion. Obviously Servers would not be a one time purchase, and as such you need to ensure making such a purchase is worth your buck.
(I am just going to use hypothetical numbers so take them with a grain of salt if you must) Lets say RARE does offer a Custom Server for a set price, lets say 20$ for 1 month access to that server. Outside of the occasional community driven events you might create, what benefit of having that server might it serve outside of that community creative event? If you spend that money, there is an intrinsic obligation to use it, so its not wasted, therefore (theoretically) you would be spending more time in a version of the game that provides nothing to your standard SoT experience. Sure you were able to hop into a Custom Server and play "Skull Ball", "Hot Potato" with a GPBarrel, or have a "Race" from one end of the map to another, or anything less common you can think of that is not practically possible in standard adventure or arena, but what would it do other than create a brief potential for a YT video or Twitch stream? Nothing TBH.
Time spent in that server could be spent playing the game you already payed for, and actually progressing (be it through PVP or PVE) If an event is going on, or say your trying to max out the Seasons or the upcoming Plunder Pass (the Pass which would also cost money, and require time to be spent in the main game where progression is being recorded), you could ostensibly be wasting your time in a Server with no progression when you could be progressing in the standard game. Why pay for this server then? (Even if your content creator?)
What then if RARE charged 100$ for say a Year of Server access? Would you be ok paying that much (Honestly you could insert just about any price tag, with any increment of time) for a gimped version of the game? Why pay for a Custom Server with no progression, when the game your already playing (and payed for) provides more benefit? Sure those offshoot community events Joe and RARE talk about is fun in brief stints, but would you really be ok with paying a premium price just to do that (Especially if your NOT a content creator?) My question is; is it fair to pay for a server that is less than the main game? You might as well be paying for a Book, but then paying someone else to Read the book for you. You already have the book, read it yourself (horrible analogy I know but hopefully the point is understood).
I wont pretend that I am not an advocate for PVE servers, and if I am going to Pay for a Server (regardless of Price or Time Increment), I expect it to be equal, not less, than the Game I already payed for (and continue to put money into through the Emporium and yes the Plunderpass). If I pay for something (in this game or others), its not unreasonable to have what your paying for contribute meaningfully to the game at large. Obviously, RARE is smitten on there community driven content, but lets acknowledge that the Majority is NOT content creators, is NOT Youtubers or Streamers. Sure a modest number are, but among the 15,000,000 players RARE has touted, its hardly even a droplet in the ocean.
If these Custom Servers (in there current form without progression) become a proper offering in the Pirate Emporium, I certainly wont be giving RARE my money on that front. However, if RARE offers a Custom Server with Progression, that is something I am willing to shell out IRL Cash for. That honestly a more important question I would ask all of you and I would like your perspective on;
Are you willing to pay for a Server WITH or WITHOUT Progress?
That alone quite frankly would force RARE's hand. If they see money in offering a Proper Custom PVE server, vs a Custom 0 Progress Server; I'm willing to bet I know what direction they will swing (I don't even mean that cynically, its just business at that point, and no amount of outcry from anti-PVE players would stop that.)