How's the Shae Vizla APAC Server after Six Months?

It's been a few months since I last wrote about the Shae Vizla server, but that doesn't mean that I stopped playing on it. The start of Galactic Season 6 did however result in a reduction of my play time. Before that, I was focused on my home on Darth Malgus, with playing on Shae Vizla as my only side gig, but the new season meant that I suddenly had to divide my "secondary" play time among five servers again.

As the server turned six months old a couple of days ago, I wanted to write about it again to talk a bit about how it's doing. Three months ago I acknowledged that it had become quite quiet, but was hopeful that the opening of server transfers would inject some life into it again.

Sadly, that didn't exactly happen the way I had hoped. I mean, the server transfers definitely had an effect, initially. A lot of the cheaper stuff on the GTN was snapped up and prices increased somewhat with the introduction of all those credits into the economy, though not as much as I would've expected. I even heard allegations that people were transferring characters over purely to "shop" before returning to their home servers, though I don't know if anyone actually did that.

A female Twi'lek and Qyzen Fess standing in front of the Senate Tower on Coruscant. The Jedi is turning to look up and behind her at the building.

Activity also increased for a bit initially, and at least level 80 PvP started popping again after having been pretty non-existent for several weeks. However, this doesn't appear to have lasted. I think guilds are still organising PvP events for their members in dedicated time slots, but just queueing at what should be APAC prime time hasn't gotten me much action in a while, even with my level 80.

However, in fairness, I haven't been around as much recently, so I reached out to some players whom I knew to be located in the APAC region and/or who I knew were much more active on Shae Vizla, to get their more informed input. Thanks to everyone who replied and was willing to chat with me! This group consisted of:

  • Xam Xam - currently taking a break from SWTOR, but a well-known SWTOR content creator from Australia who was celebrating the opening of Shae Vizla when it launched
  • Kal - another SWTOR content creator and owner of Today in TOR, Kal is also located in Australia and founded the guild Heroes of the Republic/Empire on Shae Vizla's launch day. (This is also the guild my own characters on SV are in.)
  • J.R. - lives in Eastern Canada but has been one of the most active people in the Heroes guild, constantly organising and leading events like world boss hunts and activities for seasons objectives
  • Paiche - lives in South America but is also very active on Shae Vizla. I mainly interacted with him in organised PvP events that were aiming to get queues popping

Without exception, everyone I spoke to did express a degree of disappointment or concern about the server's population levels. "I didn't expect the server to have this much of a falloff in terms of general population," was Kal's first comment. Xam Xam added: "Looking back, I regret that some players (including myself) and the developers placed greater emphasis on maintaining a fresh start experience or healthy server economy than on the player population."

People mostly seemed to agree that this was due to the way the server had been launched, including the way transfers were handled. J.R. said the following: "I feel there was little planning for the server and was an after-thought.  First, the short notice caught a lot of people off-guard. I believe if they announced the SV launch a few weeks in advance, then more buzz would be created and players that weren't already subscribed would subscribe to make sure they could grab their choice character names."

Paiche thought that it was specifically the intended target audience of APAC players that seemed to have been put off: "They came, saw how grindy it was gonna be with the economy and no transfers and went right back." J.R. also echoed this sentiment: "The initial transfer restriction was met with varied responses [...] but I feel the devs dragging their feet to make a decision on when and how to do transfers led to a drop-off on players who couldn't wait for transfers to unlock. During this time, casual players stopped playing or returned to their main servers. Launching a new server in the middle of GS and PvP Seasons also prevented players from establishing a foundation on the new server. While everyone rushed to create characters on the new server, most people returned to their main servers to finish their partially complete GS and PvP Seasons. I heard this from many APAC players - some of which haven't returned to SV." Paiche also commented on this, as he actually came back to the game specifically for the Shae Vizla launch: "It really was a fresh start [for me] because I didn't have anything to lose by starting from scratch - but other people were in the middle of GS5."

This was interesting to me because from my personal point of view, the launch had been extremely convenient, as I'd just finished up Galactic Season 5 on the other servers, and there was just enough time left to also complete it on Shae Vizla as well if you started at launch and then completed the maximum number of weeklies every week. However, I can see how players who are more casual about seasons may not have felt the same way. With that in mind, it might have been more beneficial to have the server launch at a time when there was no seasonal content going on. Also, while the way the server's opening dropped kind of as a surprise was pretty cool, a bit more notice may indeed have been beneficial to get the word out.

I also thought it was interesting that two of my interviewees chosen for their activity levels on the server were in fact not APAC players. Looking at the Heroes guild Discord, it does often seem to me like a lot of group content happens in what's the middle of the night for me, during US west coast prime time instead of APAC. While every server has visitors from other regions that play for Galactic Seasons or to join friends, it does feel at least to me that Shae Vizla has a particularly high population percentage-wise that wasn't the original target audience. J.R. seemed to get a similar impression, saying that he thought that "SV is unique in that outside APAC prime time the game gets a bump during NA prime time (when I play) as well" and that he considered it the server's biggest win that he'd made "new friends from not only Australia and New Zealand, but also Philippines, Indonesia, Brazil and throughout the United States and [was] learning about their cultures". Kal also commented that "it's really nice to see a lot of American and European English speakers coming to the server to hangout in the off-time on their own main servers".

I specifically asked Paiche about PvP, since that was how we'd first got talking and I figured he'd have a better picture of the situation than me. He bluntly stated that it's "worse than on other servers" though he did say it was still happening. Aside from the fact that it can be hard to get pops as has been my experience, he said that the problem is that the only people queueing are the remaining hardcore PvPers and even if they're not going in as premades, the fact that you only really run into these extremely skilled opponents whenever you do get a pop can be off-putting if you're not on the same level, as you'll basically just get stomped a lot. I haven't really seen this myself as much (whenever I do get a pop) but it does remind me of similar experiences I had in PvP shortly before server merges in past years, when the PvP population had kind of dropped down to the most dedicated.

Now, a lot of what I've described and quoted has been on the negative side. It's undeniable that Shae Vizla has become a small server, and many people will be put off by that. Personally I've always hated "dead server" narratives though, as both large and small servers have their pros and cons, it's just that due to the very nature of the fact that large server = many people and small server = fewer people, you'll see a lot more people extolling the virtues of large servers than you'll see proponents of small ones. (Ask me about my aggravations with mega-servers in WoW Classic some time...) Large servers are good for activity queue pops and getting pugs for group content, while small servers excel at providing a sense of community and a more relaxing and immersive experience for solo play (as you're not jostling elbows with ten other players doing the same thing every time a quest giver sends you out to solve their problems).

Paiche specifically asked me to quote him as saying that "Shae Vizla is the best server for solo players". In terms of community, J.R noted that "of all the servers I’ve been on, I’ve had great pug experiences and minimal toxicity on SV as compared to all the other servers. And this is the main reason I increased the time I spend on SV. I think joining a guild with similar objectives as you helps greatly." This was echoed by Kal by saying: "It is really nice to see the same names around every single guild you log into, it's like the entire server is one massive extended family or school to be honest, with all the different kinds of players like jocks and nerds in their different guilds". He also added that "with or without the server transfer limits, SV's GTN is probably the best in the game, there's no other server where playing 20 minutes of heroics casually each day lets you buy Gold or Platinum cartel market items".

About the "new server" experience in general, Xam Xam commented: "As much as I enjoyed the fresh start experience for a time, I don't think the APAC Region was the right place for it. [...] Regardless, I think this 'experiment' shows that there is an interest in a fresh start experience for SWTOR. Perhaps a fresh start server could be launched with a proper marketing campaign and much more notice in a more populated region someday." 

I have to admit I'm less sure about that one myself. I definitely loved the excitement of the experience myself, but based on how quick and steep the drop-off in engagement was, I'm not sure it would really be worth the effort to do more of this kind of thing. Based on my personal experience at least, even World of Warcraft - which is much bigger - has struggled with population management after its recent new event server launches.

Anyway, to get back to Shae Vizla, I think it's got some challenging months ahead to be honest. While I don't think the smaller population size is inherently a problem and does in fact offer some unique perks highlighted above, I personally feel like the server is currently struggling to really find its niche. To make a comparison to the Leviathan, which is generally known to be SWTOR's smallest server nowadays - I would never question it's viability because it has a very clear target audience: French speakers. So if, for example, you're a French person who also likes to do group content or PvP, you may feel the pull of a larger server like Darth Malgus where queue pops are more reliable... but people would be chattering at you in English there, in content where it's important to communicate and understand each other, which is a definite con if you're not comfortable with the language.

However, as far as Shae Vizla goes - the main advantage of having a dedicated server in the APAC region is finding people to play with in your time zone and the lower ping you get in activities like PvP or ops, where lag can really screw up your performance. Yet that's exactly the kind of content that's harder to get into on a small server, and from the sounds of it, many APAC players chose to remain elsewhere. So your choices become playing on one of the US servers, where your ping is bad... or playing on Shae Vizla, where your ping is great, but you might not actually find people to do the content with at all. I know which one I'd pick.

Players have somewhat limited power to improve the situation. They can form guilds and try to organise events, which can work well for a while, but it doesn't take much for any such group to fall below the critical mass needed to keep going. Paiche thought it would be good if Broadsword could encourage more players to move to Shae Vizla with some special sort of incentive: "Maybe 2xp again, double drops, cosmetics, decos, I don't know. Something that makes SV enticing to play in." On the forums I've also seen a group of players clamour for unrestricted transfers, and that all players located in the APAC region should simply get free transfers regardless of subscription status. I'm not sure how well any of that would work, but I kind of suspect that Broadsword considers their work on the server "done" for the moment and has moved on to focusing on other matters either way.

So my advice to you if you're in the APAC region and considering Shae Vizla as your destination would be:

  • If you primarily play solo, go ahead and have fun.
  • If you're happy to quest by yourself, but also want to do some group content, find a guild that caters to your needs and you'll also be fine.
  • If your idea of a fun evening is to shoot the shit on the fleet and just queue for activities, hoping for quick pops, unfortunately Shae Vizla is not the right place for that right now and you're probably better off on one of the US servers.

Feel free to share your own thoughts about and experiences with the Shae Vizla server in the comments.


  1. I totally understand, that you could have tested a different approach to the new server start.

    But i don't share the opinion that this would have been the holy grail, like all the other players are assuming and insisting on.

    Maybe there would have been a bigger uptick temporarily. But i highly doubt the overall outcome would have been differently.

    Everybody seems to be assuming that almost 100% of the Asian playerbase stopped playing because the old servers closed and they had to deal with high ping suddenly and decided to just leave instead. And if low ping servers will return, ALL of them would come back and will live a happy life again together in SWTOR.

    And this is a totally false assumption in my eyes. Players left, because of the game. And the game is still the same. Sure... low ping would have brought some players back, they enjoy the game for a while again, but ultimately, everything what drove them away from the game in the past would come back to their memory and they would walk off again.

    TLDR. The current conversation about SV is falsely dominated by the illogical point, that low ping was the biggest reason why APAC region players are not playing SWTOR.

    The approach on how to start the new server is not relevant for it being low pop now. Or at least not that relevant as they think.

    1. I think that's a fair point and why I've been hesitant to fully agree with anyone who's been claiming that Broadsword did it wrong and if only they'd done XYZ the server would be popping off. Though I do suppose faster and less limited transfers for APAC players in specific would have led to more actual existing APAC players going for the new server. I do keep wondering why the people for whom the server was specifically intended didn't get any special perks related to it.

  2. Everything that Shintar wrote about the new server is very correct.
    When the dev's announced that a new server would be released and in Australia, I was excited like a small girl opening presents at Christmas. I started a new town and transferred toons after the allowable time frame. For the first few months it was great with all the story content for levelling up a new toon keeped me busy.

    SV server maybe Australian based, but it is largely populated and run by Americans.
    Please don't misunderstand me, this is not a bad thing. Being a working parent my irl gets really busy and hectic. It just means my login time see's the fleet almost dead. It's just the way it is.

    I've heard quite a bit of rumbling from people who are dissatisfied with the way it's all been handled and are going to transfer back to their home server.

    I don't know what will happen to this server in the times ahead.
    Perhaps the Dev's need to get together with the playing community to work on ways to improve SV server.

    1. The size of the non-APAC population on SV is definitely slightly baffling (and I know that I'm part of the "problem"). I've seen some APAC players who didn't like the fresh start blame the server's low pop on visitors from other servers only coming for the launch and not hanging around, but it does rather seem like the opposite, like the large number of non-APAC players is what's actually propping the server up to some degree! Which is just kind of bizarre to me.

    2. When on the very first day the comments creeped up that even die hard SWTOR fans from the APAC region will not support, in fact boycott, the new server because of the "insufficient" launch in their eyes, it was clear to me that SV will be an international fresh start server.

      EA/Broadsword saw those numbers confirmed in the first few days/weeks, and followed up with the best tactic... to preserve the fresh start experience as long as possible and ignore APAC wishes, the wishes of the minority.

      The estranged APAC community left their mark on the server. SV became what the APAC community did to it.

      IF they would have supported "their" new server 100% from day one onwards... it would be in fact "their" server.

      Every single event i took part in on SV was not organized by an APAC player. Without international help there would be nothing on SV.

  3. I've spent a good amount of time there. All the people I've come across are friendly. I'm on west coast time, so my time zone lines up with their primetime pretty well. They are a day ahead, but by the hour of the day, I am 5 hours ahead of them. My main play time is 8pm-2am, which ends up being 3pm-9pm in their time, so it works out well.

    I do think some of Broadsword's choices accelerated the drop in players, but it probably would have happened anyways eventually. I think the server should stay up because some people do care about the low ping more than fast queues. For me on the west coast, I have found pings acceptable. I'm usually sitting around 170ms. It might not be good enough for PvP, but it's good enough for everything else.

    I think there is a place for a more hardcore server. There's a handful of players that want it more difficult out in the world with slower leveling speed more like how it was in vanilla. It would be a niche thing, but it doesn't cost Broadsword much to create new servers in the cloud. They only pay for the resources the server uses, so they would only need a few hundred subscribers to be profitable on it.

  4. As an Australian player (though on a break from SWTOR at the moment), I could've seen myself active on both my original server and the new Shae Vizla server over the past few months, if I'd had the time and energy to spare. (I don't know how you manage to keep up activity across all the SWTOR servers, Shintar!) When circumstances are more favourable, I plan on starting a legacy on Shae Vizla ... a fresh start, an opportunity to record some base storyline gameplay, and at least I know how to ESC out of frustrating conversation choices this time around. :)

  5. I remember than when they announced the transfers, my sub had already run out for a month due to budget reasons. My break in subscribing meant I wasn't eligible for free transfers to SV (if I remember the continuous subscriber benefit correctly).

    Since I couldn't quickly re-subscribe and save up enough just from subscription CC to transfer a suitable character during the transfer sales window, and feel comfortable about it I had to forget the idea of transferring any characters altogether.

    I would also like to confirm, that yes, I have heard of a few people transferring characters to buy things on SV and then transfer them back to their home server. However it's a really low% of the people I've encountered in the guilds. Maybe 2-3 total out of several large and small SF guilds. Most of the players returned to play in their main server, so their impact was limited to the GTN market rather than the activity level of content in the game.

  6. Ah, additional comment about activity - I had to stop playing because it was exactly as stated above. With GS and PVP overlapping entirely, I was way too busy with both of those on my main server to commit to SV for awhile. With all the events and new daily areas, I'm still grinding events for rep on my main server since I don't have any on SV so I can max out and get to Legend on planets like Ruhnuk or the Manaan Incursion zone.


Share your opinion! Everyone is welcome, as long as things stay polite. I also read comments on older posts, so don't be shy. :)