I am one of many MMORPG players that hop from MMORPG to MMORPG. I can't stay in the game for long and I typically will only play an MMORPG for more than a couple of weeks.
The only MMORPGs I ever stayed in and played were the ones with a community.
Vanilla WoW, DAOC, Ragnarok, Runescape, etc. MMORPGs today are more like Massively Multiplayer Online Single Player Games. Without getting into too much detail, I will simply state some bullet points that I feel are the reason MMORPGs nowadays are almost always complete failures.
- Instead of developing their own game design that fosters a community within game servers, game developers opt for copying trendy ideas from successful games. These types of MMORPGs I couldn't play for more than a couple hours before I uninstalled them. They're mind-numbing wastes of talent. As a result, you have a game that implements successful ideas poorly. They don't fully understand why the idea works for the successful game. These copycat game designers don't know all of the factors that the game designer considered when making their design choice. Take for example, all the games that started blatantly copying World of Warcraft's talent tree system. At this moment, I can't think of a single one of these games that were successful, at least in the long term. The whole thing is based on a logical fallacy. X has Y, so if we have Y we will be successful.
- Instead of giving players meaningful long-term goals, game design is centered around short-term incentives to login every day. Daily login rewards. Daily quests. It gives the player that instant gratification masturbation dopamine fix. And its implementation is often an awkward disassociation from the game itself that offers no benefit to the MMORPG's economy or to its community. The daily login rewards and daily quests introduce and tease the player to the hundreds of different items available in the game's cash shop. It's gambling and it's pure evil. Especially evil given that many of these MMORPGs market towards teenagers.
- Instead of creating a living breathing world for players to interact in from the beginning of the game and in a variety of different and meaningful ways, game designers focus on treating their MMORPG like a carrot-on-the-stick treadmill where they reward ultra-competitive types who rush to the endgame. Everyone starts to rush to the endgame to keep up. People start leaving the MMORPG in mass once they get their carrot. The developers have the typical knee jerk reaction and release a new dungeon, a new armor tier to farm and everyone's hardwork is gone forever. Some players come back, farm the new tier and then quit again. Eventually people get tired of it and the game slowly but surely dies. Maybe it will enter F2P and piss off all of the people who preordered and subscribed for the last two years. The game developers who do this really don't care about their players at all. Planetside 2 is a great example of this. Instead of taking an approach like Eve Online, where you're rewarded for long-term play, they chose to make the game like Battlefield and rewarded instant gratification. That MMOFPS is solely designed to bleed you dry of cash and to the surprise of no one, it has lost the majority of its players and only the whales are left.
- The MMORPG's story is emphasized but the majority of players ignore it and rush through their carrot-on-a-stick experience, because they've heard it all before and the quality is never as good as a singleplayer RPG's story. The game design problem here, in my view, is that the story has no meaning or purpose. Everyone is the chosen one who saves the day, no one really cares. I doubt whatever is left of the Roleplay community even cares anymore too. An MMORPG with a "roller coaster ride main storyline" is like designing an entire game world and universe where every player is the same person. All the NPCs treat every player as though they are the same person. Every non-player interaction is as though each player is the same person. Game designers that do this also typically greatly limit the ability for players to interact with players in meaningful ways. It creates a singleplayer experience in a genre that is supposed to be about playing with thousands of other people around the world. What is the point of this game being a massively multiplayer online game, if you aren't interacting with other players at all? Pretty much every fantasy MMORPG has this problem.
In conclusion, MMORPGs today are almost always just a cash grab and the players know it. That's why we see the trend known as MMO hopping. We as players, are living in the dark ages of MMORPGs. That's why everyone is so excited for the WoW classic server. Everyone really just wants to play a legitimate MMORPG again that they can invest their time and money in. I can only assume that game designers are not completely stupid. They're doing all of these things with purpose. These seem like obvious points, and probably aren't all of the points to be made in regards to this subject matter. I think that in reality, they want their games to die (Or maybe they're designing their games only to keep their whales satisfied?). Maybe they're looking for a formula to maximize their return on investment quickly, they'll milk the whales and then close the servers down as quickly as possible. Rinse and repeat. In my opinion, this whole situation can be used to consider both the benefits and the pitfalls of untethered capitalism. The free market is working, in the sense that it kills the MMORPGs that are bad, but the bad actors that make these MMORPGs are still profiting from their development, so they'll just make a new shit-show for us all next year. It's kind of like they're playing the free market, using it to their whim. One can only assume these game developers aren't stupid. They're running a business but their business is turning into selling snake oil, rather than creating genuine entertainment. They don't have sincere, honest intentions anymore. They just want your money. We need to culturally change and stop rewarding these instant gratification, gambling MMORPGs all together. At this point I think the only option is for us to promote the indie developers who want to create a genuine MMORPG experience for players.
All of the best MMORPGs that have weathered the test of time do not make these terrible game design choices.
Eve Online doesn't do it.
Ultima Online didn't do it.
Runescape doesn't do it.
The Classic WoW and the first couple expansions don't do it either.
And these MMORPGs will always be loved and cherished by the MMORPG community.
They'll always be played in some form or fashion.
Anyway, thanks for reading. I just wanted to get this off my chest. It's something I have thought about for a long time, and it always makes me sad. We have the technology to make great MMORPG experiences for players that are way better than the classic MMORPGs, but it's squandered with untethered, capitalist greed. I'm not a commie but it's pretty intuitive as to what's causing MMORPGs to be complete trash nowadays.
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