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Community Spotlight: Why do we go nuts over MMOs?

Posted by MikeB Saturday February 4 2012 at 1:37PM
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This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "Why do people go so bananas over MMORPGs?" by lizardbones. In the thread, lizardbones discusses our seemingly weird perceptions of value when it comes to MMOs:

A friend and I were discussing this earlier. With most games, if you spent $60 on the game, and then played the game for three hours a day, five days a week for a month, it would be a ridiculously good deal regarding money spent and time spent playing. If players buy a game (Dragon Age 2) and it blows, players don't spend weeks on forums complaining about the game incessantly. If they happen to like the game, they don't spend weeks on forums declaring the virtues of the games either.

All of this changes with MMORPG. If you spend $60 (or a lot less in some cases) and spend three hours a day, five days a week playing the game and are done a month later, it's horrible. The game lacks content and the developers are obviously lazy morons. Forum ranting ensues. It's even worse if the player just doesn't like the game. For weeks players will rant about the game. If the player likes the game it's often just as bad in the opposite direction. The game can do no wrong and the people ranting against it are 'haters'. The forum ranting and proselytizing can happen even with players who haven't purchased the game. Would anyone on these forums fanboi or hate on a game like Alice: Madness Returns when they haven't purchased it?

Why is this? It's not people who have been playing MMORPG since UO either. New MMORPG players seem to exhibit a lot of this behavior too. Why?

What's the community have to say about this? Read on to find out!

RabbiFang feels it has to do with being spoiled by MMOs past:

The problem is we're spoiled by other MMOs we've played in the past.

I got 2 years out of Anarchy Online, 4 years out of Neocron, 2 years out of SW:G, then everything I tried afterwards was a pile of crap in comparison to any of those games. 

Neocron got everything right; people just didn't give it the chance it deserved. Crafting, economy, player apartments, territory wars, loot from players, mostly open PvP (with safe zones), great clan system with ranks/responsibilities and all the wars that go along with it. 

Perfect MMO, broken by a lack of players and a lack of dev support.

Kiljaednas offers up a design-based reason for the disparity:

I think one major aspect to this is to the way MMOs are structured content-wise compared to single player games.

The vast, vast majority of the time, single player games have a definite concrete end. I.e., kill the final boss, lead your people to safety, find the ultimate rare artifact, whatever. You work to get to that goal, finally get it, watch the ending credits and say "I win! Yay!", and that's the end of it. Even if you can beat the game somewhat quickly, as long as the content was good enough to keep you engrossed and entertained along the way it's still a good game, and you get the sense of achievement from having that ultimate end victory.

MMOs, on the other hand, the vast majority of the time have no set end-point. The companies that run the game servers want to keep as many people as possible playing (and paying) for as long as possible, so putting an end point where when a player reaches it they go "Okay, I won, bye bye" would put them out of business. Therefore, a good MMO has to have enough complexity of content to keep a player interested for much longer than a single player game to be considered good, and ideally a decent set of stuff in it that makes it unique in some way which does NOT include graphics or a simply different flavor of storyline. If a new MMO has the exact same core content and logistical challenges as an already existing popular one, just with a different visual appearance, people who have played the first one won't really see anything new other than the visuals in the new one and can get bored quickly. The new one needs brand new gameplay mechanics and core activities for the player to get interested in, and sadly these days a very large number of new MMOs either have very little of that or none at all.

jdlamson75 thinks it has to do with the implied commitment factor:

By the time people realize a single player game sucks, everyone who wanted to play it has ordered it.  There's no continuing subscription fee, so the rant is moot.

By the time people realize an MMO sucks, those who really wanted to play it are still playing it, and those who hate it want other people to know - rather emphatically - that they hate the game.  And keep letting them know.  And then, once they figure people know, they keep letting people know that "Hey - I hate this game!". 

In short, it's the fact that people subscribe to a game that keeps people ranting about MMOs - it's the long-term vs. short-term game "commitment".

I think core to the issue is the subscription based model we've been used to for the last 10+ years. One of the largest barriers to entry in the MMO genre has been the notion of that recurring subscription every month. While MMO gamers obviously have been able to get past that, I feel it still rests in the back of their mind: "This developer wants me to give them $15 every month for this?" We've all spent that $15 on a bunch of different MMOs and whichever ones we felt were actually worth it inevitably become the gold standard for which we compare any new MMO we play.

I agree it doesn't necessarily have to do with older vs. newer MMO gamers, but I think it does largely have to do with those who may have gotten months if not years from some other MMO in the past. Once you've experienced what it's like to find a game that hooks you for that long, you're going to want every MMO you're interested in to do the same thing.

What are your thoughts? Share 'em in the comments below!

keithian writes:

I agree regarding that once you have been hooked with an MMO for a long time, it sets the bar very high for everything that follows. My first MMO was WOW. I have never since then stayed in one game that long, even though I loved the first month with Warhammer, 6 months in LOTRO, etc. What I find is that I get bored much faster and its hard to stay longer than 9 months or so. For the first time in  7 years Ive started playing single player games again, like Skyrim, which I compliment my MMO experience.

Sat Feb 04 2012 5:27PM Report
maplestone writes:

Is going nuts a bad thing?

Sat Feb 04 2012 10:08PM Report
MurlockDance writes:

Hmmm, when I saw the title of this thread, I thought about my DAoC days when players went nuts because of realm pride and RvR.

I remember reading about two guys meeting up in a gaming boutique about 10 years ago and finding out that they played DAoC. One asked the other which realm they played and when that person said Albion, the other guy got upset because he was a Midgard player. This resulted in a vocally unpleasant altercation.

And then there is the corp warfare in 0.0 in EVE... there are some good, crazy player stories there too.

A different kind of nuts than what is alluded to here, but definitely still nuts!

Sun Feb 05 2012 2:36AM Report
TheLizardbones writes:

@MurlockDance - I don't think that DAoC type of nuts would happen in Halo.  Red or Blue doesn't're just playing the game.  There's a level of committment in MMORPG that doesn't seem to exist in other types of games.  The closest I can think of are people who play a particular race in Starcraft.


Realm or Faction Pride <- kind of like being a fan of a particular football team.


Sun Feb 05 2012 6:37AM Report
fenistil writes:

That's because mmorpg's (well at least some of them)  are social experience ,and least that was original cocept.


Changing some of them into strictly games , widens playerbase but kill their longlivety ,thus result in many of problems mmropg's are facing atm. (like drastic drop in population after initial weeks  / months)

Sun Feb 05 2012 7:14AM Report
Xstyles writes:

MMO and gaming has become more of a hobby. Just like football fans rant over the "bad coach" or "why are they adding this awful player to their roster?" it's not very different in the MMO gaming world:

"Fix this bug already!" or "Why would anyone spend so much money on creating such a horrible star wars game?"

Anywhere in the world, people rant. Gamers just do it on the internet more than anyone else, because it's here we feel at home. I have to listen at my colleges at work rant over some indifferent football team every day, I don't see how this is any different.

Sun Feb 05 2012 2:51PM Report
badgerer writes:

The longer you've been in any particular mmorpg, the more your sense of entitlement grows. If you play the game 3+ hours a day for several years, you'll know the in-game experience better than any of the people actually making the game. You'll feel that your emotional stake in it, coupled with the cash investment you've made if it has a monthly fee, gives you a share in the welfare of the game. When developers make changes to existing content after so long into a game's life, they'll invoke incredibly strong reactions from the player-base, and its little wonder; as a player I know how this feels. Its like a home-owner being told that people are coming in to switch tthe toilet's place with the fridge's.

Modern mmorpg's can't get players to stick around long enough to get those kinds of repsonses. Oh, they get big crazy responses alright, but not of the kind I describe above.

Sun Feb 05 2012 4:18PM Report
meddyck writes:

Yeah it's all about the subscription. When a company decides to require a monthly subscription, they are saying to gamers, "This game is so good that you will want to pay for it every month for years." When the gamer discovers instead that he doesn't want to continue playing after, say, 2-3 months, then it seems like the game has fallen way short of what was implicitly promised. This is made worse for long time MMO players because any new MMO is inevitably going to fail to live up to the standards of that first great MMO you played for years. The solution is to lower your sights and be glad when a game offers you a few months of entertainment.

Sun Feb 05 2012 4:30PM Report
Isane writes:

SImple answer. We don't; The average intelligence of an MMO player these days and the whack amole nayure leads to an interesting comboination. Players who really have not  got a clue what real value is.

Sun Feb 05 2012 6:38PM Report
MurlockDance writes:


Competition definitely affects gamer nuttiness, especially anytime that the competitive sides are not exactly the same. To me, PvP can be incredibly emotional, especially when I am a member of a team working towards a single goal. PvE that simulates this can be similar, but I never got as emotionally wrapped up in PvE as I have in PvP. In the case of both, what is more important to me is how things work out in the player community and the time invested in such endeavors more so than the subscription.

No other game genre seems to be able to field the same number of people as MMOs, so I admit that I got more involved in games like EVE, DAoC, Shadowbane, and PS than I did games like Unreal or CS.

I personally never got the rise of having a subscription game disappoint me in the way this article describes. If I have been irritated or disappointed in a game, I usually end up leaving it before the free month is up and perhaps I post about what made me irritated once on a forum and then that is it. I don't even do that so much anymore. I have never spent months and months on subs in a game that I ended up completely hating.

I don't see why some forum warriors do what they do, especially when smacking down a company over and over about a game they might have changed 5 or more years ago for example. It seems like they get stuck in a rut and that something someone posts triggers another "episode" of nuttiness from these guys...

The only time I can say that I have gone nutty on forums is in the competitive sense because I used to PvP a lot. I remember forum forays on different boards than these about the old Animist and Banshee AoE effects in RvR in DAoC. Nowadays I blush at some of the things I said back then...

Mon Feb 06 2012 3:05AM Report
Delvie writes:

It's content - how many kill ten rat quests can a person do with each new MMO?

It's social - with each new game how much patience do you have with the social game?  How much time are you going to invest in getting to know folks if you aren't sure you are going to be playing the game after the first month?

It's burnout - how much time did you play at the end of beta, through the headstart time, and the first month?

Mon Feb 06 2012 8:27AM Report
moosecatlol writes:

A game doesn't have to be an mmo for me to be excited about it, for example I'm excited about borderlands 2 and maybe This

But I would be pissed if I spend $60.00 USD on a game that I only played for 2-3 days.

Sat Feb 11 2012 8:50AM Report
MumboJumbo writes:

I think the premise is/could be simple, if you take a normal single-player game in any guise:

1. What if those goons acted as intelligently as me when I am trying to run this level and they are trying to stop me, using the intelligence I'd use against me?

2. What if the next time I came to this part in the game, the effects that I left behind were still in place and so I'd have had to think more carefully the first time around?

MMORPG provides the promise of ansering both those questions, yet v rarely have they deigned to do so - IN FULL. <.<

/my verdict so far

Mon Feb 13 2012 10:11AM Report writes:
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