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 MMORPG.com 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!