Lose laborers, and you lose the only reason I have a personal island. (I don’t farm). Lose laborers, and you lose the only reason I gathered rough logs/stone and bought other mats to upgrade my buildings. Lose laborers and you lose my only incentive to buy or craft increasingly higher tier furniture.
The laborer system drives so much activity in the game that I think it’s a mistake to consider it just some free resources. It’s essentially a cottage industry, and one that Albion Online will be a much lesser game without.
Personally, I’m glad they put this patch in without holding it back due to concerns. Not sure the level of telemetry and data they have available, but it’d be super interesting to see the amount of total fame being put into books now, versus before. As well as the number of folks harvesting in red/black zones, etc.
From my own (very anecdotal) perspective, it seems like hardly anyone is gathering in red zones now, as I’m finding full nodes and dire wolves choke full of skins. This makes be wonder if a lot of the traffic wasn’t caused by people filling books, people who are no longer bothering to go out and fill them.