There seems to be a growing trend in the users of entertainment online. From the need of wanting or having what the other guy has or able to get it now then work for it later. Being a gamer of many years now sense the birth of the arcade machien. I have seen a trend that has me honestly worried were our gaming goodness is going.
Look to any forum on any game on any website and you will see two main themes that seem to represent themselves daily. The need or desire to gain something within a limited amount of time or even better for free. Then enabling the use of that item to out do the other player, but wait! Only I can have such an item, giving it to another player who hasn't put in the time I have isn't fair!
This ofcourse brings us to the main reason why I beleive this trend is happening. As MMO's have grown so has the audiance. Today we have two known descriptions that describe larger player bases. The power gamer and the casual player. Power gamers as you know (or if you don't ) put hours upon hours of dedicated game play which usually is 40 or more hours a week. While a casual player who might put in say 14 hours in a given week of game play.
Because of this dedication to the game, the hardcore player recieves "uber loot" (items in the game considered better then most if not the best) for what he does in game, while it will take the casuel player months to get such an item or even never because he can't find the group to do such for time restraints.
We have seen the split of the player base in this way. In your online gaming I am sure many of you have seen or heard these following quotes before.
"how can I compete with that guy?"
"I can't play as much as he can, so were is the fairness in that?"
"My time is just as important as the other guys time. I pay the same fee he does, so why should I be penalized for the time I can play compaired to him?"
It is a catch you see, the catch here is falling for it. Feeling for the "casual player" has been a growing trend in most games, however this will in the end fail. The facts may be that the casual player is a bigger presences in todays online entertainment, but there will always be those "hardcore" players who will dedicate time beyond what any casual player can and compete on a level far superior to most due to the time dedicated. Restraining these players ofcourse kills the game in the long run and in the end means the death of most MMO's that have attempted to aim their game to the casual player.
How can I make such a bold statement? Well lets look at games in general, we play them to be entertained. When the emphises becomes "ok devs, give me instant gratification or don't give me a game" the games being developed can be completed in record time even by the most casual player. This in essences leaves us with incomplete, no depth in the game and coming down to "my item is better then your pixil item". Great! now we are getting games about collecting pixils like trading cards instead of games that emphize story and complexity. No longer do I have to think about how to get threw that swamp of deadly undead. Just look at my map! Now I have a perfect path to take! instant gratification! Oh wait! dam now I did that, now this game sucks, im bored!
We are in the essence, our own demise. We wanted things like mini maps, fast travel, faster leveling, more variity , simple interfaces and now we have them. But because we got these things we so screamed about, we are now bored and the game is to quick to be finished. Another excample, "hey devs this mob is way to hard!" dev, " ok sorry about that, we will fix it!" player "great! that was awsome, got anymore?" dev" ya, in a month or so we got new content coming" player "thats not fast enough! I am bored!". So in the end we have made the game we want, instant gratification within a few days finishing said game and moving on. A game that takes years to make finished in hours, because again, we had to have it easy to use or fair for everyone casual or hardcore.
So in the end fellow gamers, we have made the games today what they are for our own constant request have made it such. A great game I think on the horizon known as Pirates of the Burning Sea is going threw such termoil at the moment. There are nations within that game (currently beta) that have variances that players are feeling that are "not fair". So because it isn't fair, we should nerf the game to make everyone on a even feild because a certain rout might be easier for the hardcore player then the casual. SO CHANGE IT NOW! is the screams on their forums. Thankfully these devs realize exactly what I am blogging right now. Doing so would kill the game in the long run and sadly, not everyone will be happy. if they did so, the game would be that which is described above.
I hope this trend of instant gratification fades in a quick death. I am in essences a casual gamer, but I don't want instant gratification. If a power gamer want to finish the game I am playing with them in a month that is their choice. But I want a game with depth, with varity, with challenge. I don't care if Joe Grinder has better gear , I would like to get that gear someday, but I don't need it now. I want to be entertained for years, not months, not days. You want my dollars? Make a deep emmersive game that isn't handed to me on a silver platter with instant maps, simple kiddie icons and uber items that make me invincible and I might just stay long enough for you to actually keep developing your title for years to come.