Here's the tl;dr if you don't want to read this REALLY long post
- Nostagia has biased our view on how good MMOs were compared to how they are now
- Our first experience with an MMO can rarely be reproduced unless it's a completely new experience
- Social media has provided an alternative outlet for social engagement vs an mmo
- The META has become much more important these days
- People have less time to play MMOs -> Casual mmos rise in popularity
- MMOs blur the line on P2W (aka devs/publishers became more greedy)
- A growing disconnect between players, developers and game moderators
- Too much automation has led to less social interaction
- Progression feels less rewarding and more hollow
- Multiplayer games becomes bigger and more common has made "massively multiplayer" less special
Like most of you I'm more or less floating in limbo between games while waiting and hoping for an MMORPG that may or may not come that will sweep me off my feet and suck up every last second of free time and leave me wanting more, or at least something similar.
My first MMORPG was runescape back in 2013, as I had never heard of MMORPGs before then until a friend introduced me to OSRS and it had me hooked right from the start, it was an amazing experience that taught me a couple of important real life lessons.
I've spent some time thinking about why MMOs these days just don't scratch that itch not make me or a good number of you feel compelled or a strong desire to boot up the game again after a few sessions.
I've seen a number of valid reasons posted on this subreddit and I though I'd like to share my thoughts on the ones I've seen here as well as a few of my own reasons why I think MMORPGs just aren't satisfying to play anymore.
1. Nostalgia affects our judgement
There's no denying that nostalgia and looking back on good times makes us miss the days past, its easy to remember the good things in the past and forget about the negative stuff because who wants to remember the horrible things that happened?
Due to nostalgia it is easy to remember MMORPGS being a much grander experience than it is today, but this links to a couple other reasons why we feel this way…
2. First experiences are much more magical
When you experience your first MMORPG or MMO it is a whole new kind of experience, one that you don't get through most other games, first impressions will of course be amazing, memorable and a blast to go through, but experience anything enough times and the "wow" factor dwindles away and it feels more "generic".
We've essentially reached a point where we expect to see certain features and level of quality, some of which looking back now are truly a big benefit to the genre while others are more fluff.
3. Social media has weakened one of the MMO genre's main features
This one i think is one of the main reasons MMOs feel less social and engaging, social media's rise to popularity has made them the preferred platform to socialise, chat and have fun.
It may not be in a virtual world but the social aspect we experience in MMOs is the same you can get on Facebook and it creates a community of friends and groups that we stick with and have all sorts of fun or drama with.
4. The "META" has made not just MMOs, but games less "fun"
Personally, i think this is one of the big reasons why MMOs feel less enjoyable for me. Back in my earlier days of gaming and playing MMOs, i never recalled people getting worked up about you not using the right build, skill rotation, loadout or route.
You did what you wanted to do with your character and people would ask or comment about your build, offer suggestions or say nothing at all. You felt UNIQUE because that build was YOURS and not some number crunched, data mined optimised cookie cutter build.
These days I feel almost compelled to run a meta build to avoid ridicule or negative comments because i'm not doing optimal DPS and that i'm "playing the class wrong".
The meta has made experimentation with classes, weapons, skills and stat assignments less enjoyable and thus less fun because with a few keystrokes you can find the objectively "best" build for a certain role. The internet has made finding guides, builds and all sorts of optimisations much more readily available and easier to access.
5. Society has become busier so we have less free time
This one is a bit out there but i feel does impact on how we play games in general including MMOs. Time is a precious commodity we all are slowly spending (thanks if you're spending the time reading this!).
Due to how busy the world has gotten with work demanding more hours, life becoming more stressful and hectic, some if not a good portion of people just don't have as much time to dedicate to a game let alone an MMO which is a HUGE time commitment for some.
This has led to a rise of the casual mmorpgs which cater to those that have less time to spend but have the money, (some of you might already know what the next point will be!) with more games becoming casual, the challenge has lessened and this in turned has reduced the time commitment to any game. People have limited time and they want to be rewarded for it!
By no means am I saying casual players and casual games are bad, the MMOs that attempt to cater to both types of audiences are just hurting themselves because you can't please everyone which is what most MMOs are trying to do.
6. The blurring of the line for P2W
This is one of the major issues with MMOs these days and is sadly becoming an issue with "AAA" games. Before P2W games were easy to spot, you pay money to the cash shop you got items that outright were more powerful than what you could've obtained legitimately through playing the game with considerable effort.
These days this line has blurred by moving into more grey areas like inventory space, mounts, exp boosts, etc. Things that you don't necessarily "need" to have, but these games tend to be designed in such a way they certainly feel much more obligatory than they should.
Ever since mobile games became a huge hit, games have become increasingly more blatant about their greedy cash grabbing practises. The rise of P2W MMOs spawning left and right flooded the market and the genre quickly started to get oversaturated with garbage, kind of like the Steam store!
7. A growing disconnect between game devs, moderators and players
The social aspect of MMORPGs made them feel much more like a closely knit community. A large family gathering to play a game they all enjoyed with the GMs occassionally making special appearances to hang out with their playerbase. When was the last time you remember hanging out with a GM in an MMO these days?
I don't think i ever recall a game developer playing their own game with their playerbase, personally I'd think it's an important step to understand their audience and get a feel for what their playerbase actually want and need.
8. Too much automation
Another reason why the social aspect in MMOs feels lessened is due to automation of a number of things. The one example i have from the top of my head is matchmaking queues. Previously if you wanted to dungeon together with someone, you wait outside the dungeon and ask people walking by, there was no automatic matchmaking, you either asked around in your guild or in public chats. If you didn't find anyone you might instead have been asked to join someone else on a different activity.
I've also noticed MMOs these days are lacking in player to player trading, pushing players to use the marketplace instead. This does reduce the risk of scams but at the same time removes any need to socialise, chat and find someone to sell/trade with, especially if you want to avoid paying the marketplace tax on sales.
9. Progression feels hollow
A common practise today is to have content scale up/down in level to match your own so that all areas feel relevant and "challenging" with the main reason to be able to play with your lower/higher levelled friends.
This comes at the cost of losing that sense of progression as monsters you killed earlier in your experience still take as many hits to kill 50 hours into the game. You never feel like you're getting anywhere as things just never die as fast as you want them to even though they should. I mean you're supposed to be getting stronger in the game right?
10. Multiplayer games have taken away the MMO genre's thunder
With games now becoming more multiplayer focused and less singleplayer focused, the MMO's main staple of playing with and seeing lots of other people online has become nothing special. As technology has improved, regular games from other genres have been able to put out games that allow up to 100 players all in the same game on one map alone, not necessarily planetside 2 level but for most MMO's i think 100 players on a single map is impressive.
Back when the MMO was a niche or a well defined genre, you would rarely find or see games that allowed multiple players to play together online in a single instance let alone interact with in greater depth and not just shoot each other or coop together in a side campaign.
The massively multiplayer aspect was what defined and sold the MMO genre but what made MMOs an MMO is becoming increasingly more common in regular games now, to the point we see people calling games which definitely are not MMOs and MMO.
Firstly thankyou for taking the time to read all of that assuming you made it down here. I would love to hear what you guys have to say about any of these reasons, whether you agree, disagree or have your own reasons to add.
I've always loved and always will love the MMORPG genre, it's what really hooked me into games and the variety of worlds i have experienced to this day has been amazing. I've made friends i wouldn't have otherwise, experienced things i never would've have and most importantly of all enjoyed my time playing them.
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