Nor are modern mmorpgs without problems. That is the nature of opportunity cost. When you cater to one group of players, these decisions might not sit well with other players. I see the same issues being repeated endlessly every week on this sub and I hope some people will see this post and try to understand why things are different now.
#1. Endgame is much easier to reach now with a much shorter initial level grind and a heavier focus on end game gear grind. Older players seem to hate this but I want to mention that old mmorpgs had a very intense level grind. Casuals would take very long to reach endgame. In otherwords, grinding existed in both old and new mmos, but at least now instead of grinding a level 30 bandit over and over, you're grinding end game content over and over. Some people seem to dislike this because it isn't as 'rewarding'. While this is true and I did indeed feel much more satisfaction from hitting high levels or the level cap in the past, I also hated the tedious aspect of killing unimpressive junk mobs and doing boring quests over and over. The newer system allows players to reach the core gameplay much faster and as a result, the sunken cost fallacy also has a lower impact. If I do stay as a player, it's because the gameplay is fun, not because I feel it's a waste to stop because I'm basically committed since I've spent hundreds of hours slaying junk mobs.
#2. Quality of life features; auction houses/group finders/etc. While I do enjoy looking back on those memories, I can say that without nostalgia glasses, sitting around in town spamming chat isn't my idea of fun. If you were unlucky, it could take forever to sell or buy an item. You could end up waiting long periods of time before getting a team to go do a dungeon. If you had to do a quest or farm something noone else needed, you'd probably spend your entire evening trying to find people instead of actually playing the game.
#3. Deadzones and obsolete content. Deadzones were rarer in the past because the level grind was intense. Places were more populated because more people were stuck in those places. Content was also sparse, and with lesser things to do, each area was more likely to have more people in them. I would like to mention obsolete content is often left in the game so veterans can revisit these areas for fun and new players have the option experiencing them. Revamping or removing old areas takes away the choice. Yes, as a result, these spots are often unpopulated but you're almost always not required to visit them anyway. Removing deadzones just because they're an eyesore to you takes away the choice and freedom of other players who want to experience them. Gear also didn't become obsolete because new content didn't out as frequently nor were they as game changing. Keeping gear relevant means limiting the creative freedom of expansions, and it also forces new players to grind through old content to get to the exciting new things. While this makes veteran players feel more rewarded for their efforts, it's a bad new player experience. Look at how many people complained about being forced to experience the main story of FFXIV when all they wanted to do was play new content with their friends.
It's a matter of picking your poison. No game is perfect and no game ever will be. If you think a game is perfect, then you're probably dismissing it's flaws or pretending not to notice them. If somehow you aren't doing that and still find it perfect, then it probably means it wasn't perfect for someone else.
Can the people here slap themselves with some self awareness? There's nothing wrong with enjoying nostalgia but please don't be blinded by it. Also, people reaaaaaaaally need to stop citing old mmorpg populations as proof that they were better. Game genre trends change over time. Look at the drop in population in battle royale games. Despite the games being objectively better (new graphics/new content/same core gameplay), less people are playing them. It's because fads are a thing and they change over time. The mmorpg fad happened back then and has since passed. Lower populations aren't necessarily because the newer mmorpgs are worse.
Have a good day.
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