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News & Features Discussion  » [Column] General: Have MMOs Become Too Easy?

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140 posts found

Managing Editor

Joined: 7/28/06
Posts: 2209

OP  10/23/13 4:22:54 AM#1

In this week's PVP column, we take a look at the notion that MMOs have become too dumbed down in recent years. Read on for the debate!

Chris: Glad to be back at the podium with you, Bill. When it comes to this topic, there’s something I have to say up front: I don’t think these games have ever been all that difficult. Even back in the EQ and Ultima days, MMOs have objectively offered less real challenge than almost any other genre. What they had back then were time gates and commitment blocks. Important challenges to our genre, yes, but not exactly skill-based. Even raiding, something undeniably skill-based, has more to do with orchestrating players than outsmarting game systems.

Read on for more of Chris Coke's and Bill Murphy's PVP: Have MMOs Become Too Easy?

  User Deleted
10/23/13 10:01:22 AM#2
Sorry Bill I'm with Chris and I play very casual. I am probably casual though because of how easy things have become. I remember when I thought it was difficult at one point and it created a drive to try an accomplish a difficult task. Bring back the drive please.

Advanced Member

Joined: 5/18/08
Posts: 2270

10/23/13 10:05:05 AM#3

Definitely agree with Chris but the key here is that both types of games can exist at the same time. The problem is too many have shifted towards simple.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 2/16/09
Posts: 79

10/23/13 10:38:17 AM#4

Also with chris on this one. I remember playing EQ back in my day. I played it from release through its second expansion, and I never made it to level 60, heck I didn't even make it to level 50. It made the world seem so large and mysterious, and every play session was a chance to explore something new, or run away in fear. It was a true adventure.


Through playing WoW and more recent MMOs I've come to realize I'm no longer going on an adventure, instead I'm just completing small tasks and filling simplified roles in a party enviroment.


I want the world to be dangerous, scary, exciting, mysterious, and... wait for it... I want to LOSE.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/15/08
Posts: 3719

10/23/13 11:02:49 AM#5
Once MMOs shifted from challenging t oentertaining they became too easy......You can probably pinpoint that with when WoW came out and the games that copied it after.....Everything was dumbed down, death penalties made to the point of being a non-issue, instant gratification, etc....When companies saw teh numbers that WoW reached, they assumed that we all must want that type of gameplay and here we are.

Novice Member

Joined: 9/26/13
Posts: 9

10/23/13 11:32:14 AM#6

The cattle call of the last generation of MMOs ... has been accessibility. Let’s look at what we lost with that: meaningful grouping, long term goals, dangerous worlds with real risk vs reward, being able to excel beyond the “level playing field.” That’s a shame because I was under the impression we were playing in virtual worlds. The games of today feel a lot more like playpens where nobody’s a loser and everybody wins.


That's pretty much exactly how I've felt for years.


Novice Member

Joined: 7/12/04
Posts: 56

10/23/13 11:34:32 AM#7
short answer, yes mmo's are too easy.  not only are they too easy they're dumbed down to the level of your iq must be potato or lower to understand this and find it meaningful.

Novice Member

Joined: 5/31/07
Posts: 119

10/23/13 11:41:16 AM#8
Originally posted by Theocritus
Once MMOs shifted from challenging t oentertaining they became too easy......You can probably pinpoint that with when WoW came out and the games that copied it after.....Everything was dumbed down, death penalties made to the point of being a non-issue, instant gratification, etc....When companies saw teh numbers that WoW reached, they assumed that we all must want that type of gameplay and here we are.


Who can blame them?


Most player will never even try to play a game with player looting. Corpse run are "too slow" nowadays. Content is always "too hard". Try a game without big glowing question marks over NPCs, and its "too confusing". The genre has evolved, and I'm not sure that an old-school MMO (without all the convenience that people are used to) would appeal to many players.


Ever try explaining EVE online to someone? The answer is often "why would I pay for that. Why would I pay so someone can ruin my fun, when I can play this other 100% fun game". EVE is the extreme here, but you get the idea.


Also, keep in mind that even with the full "dumbing down" of MMOs, only a fraction of the players make it to level-cap, and then a fraction of that will see the real "end-game" content. So the argument of "we want a harder game" becomes very hard to take seriously, for developpers.


I think the day of challenging AAA mmos is over. Lets pray that kickstarter can bring us something cool.


Novice Member

Joined: 7/15/13
Posts: 60

10/23/13 11:57:12 AM#9
mabye one day you cant repair you equip anymore? :D


Novice Member

Joined: 12/10/08
Posts: 3109

10/23/13 11:57:59 AM#10

"Anyone who wants to see the whole world can."

I would argue that it's not the difficulty that drives people like me away from hard games, it's the atmosphere of competition that lurks behind comments like this.


Advanced Member

Joined: 3/24/09
Posts: 1835

10/23/13 12:08:59 PM#11

I agree with what Chris said about MMO's not ever being all that difficult. However, they seem to generaly have taken a turn from "not all that difficult" to face-roll easy. That definately has diminished my desire to play them. In fact, I really don't anymore.

I have nothing against an easy game when I'm in a mood for that specificaly but I don't want EVERY part of EVERY game to be an easy game.....and therein lies the problem. We need game publishers to understand that they don't all need to follow one formula and target one demographic to make a successfull game. I want to be forced to think as much strategicaly and tacticaly as I do in a good RTS or FPS or even just old fashioned PnP game. I want to be forced to work with other players like in a good team sport. I want worlds that feel dangerous and challenging and exciting and rich...not just cut-out cardboard stages for an amusment park ride.

I have no objection to some games being designed as casual, mindless, easy fun......that's fine. However to have every game feel it has to go that route......that's a tragedy.




Hard Core Member

Joined: 1/22/12
Posts: 372

10/23/13 12:15:35 PM#12

I agree with Chris. Too much has been lost while aiming for accessibility. I think Dark Souls (Even though it's not a MMO) did a great thing for all games. It showed that players actually want difficulty and developers paid attention because it made money. The same can be said about Minecraft. It showed that players can thrive in creative environments and make their own fun.

What's great about these games isn't that they tried something new and innovative, because for the most part they didn't, it's that they are not just succeeding but thriving in a market that is flooded with the exact opposite. This gets developers to pay attention and changes the current trends. I imagine, in the not too distant future, we will be seeing a substantial rise in the difficulty across all game genres and I can't wait. I am sick of getting everything handing to me just for showing up. 


The change in trends can't come fast enough for me.


Hard Core Member

Joined: 10/02/11
Posts: 2979

The Critical Hit Pretzel!

10/23/13 12:24:29 PM#13

Again... repeated over and over and over.... but agree with chris. I feel that even as a casual, having things 'easy' is actually LESS fun for the casual player. They lose out more then they gain and it causes an MMo to be far quicker to dry out as there is little incentive to put work. Players don't feel the need to get people and they feel no real achievement in accomplishing stuff and as such they quickly leave the game.

The current trend is harmful both to casual and hardcore players. MMos are much weaker then they use to be in terms of their staying power, and I feel besides the over-saturation, the over simplification has hurt it.


Novice Member

Joined: 9/16/04
Posts: 50

10/23/13 12:34:25 PM#14

Keep in mind thata lot of difficulty in the past was - in many cases - equivalent to mindless timesink and repeting the same stuff over and over again. This had absolutely nothing to do with difficulty. "Modern" games got rid of timesinks, while doing little about difficulty.

There are/were exceptions (not without their own shortcomings, e.g. EvE, pre-f2p Tera, Neocron), but few and far between.





Apprentice Member

Joined: 1/13/13
Posts: 195

10/23/13 12:47:41 PM#15

Although the whole paragraph was on point this quote from Chris is perfect

"Whoever decided that all players should reach the level cap moved this genre from journey to destination."

Level cap should be a privilege with dedication, level cap should not be a rite.



Apprentice Member

Joined: 11/22/05
Posts: 4909

10/23/13 12:52:06 PM#16
The last time I fought something in a game that I didn't know before combat even started that I was going to win was in skyrim. I don't remember the last time it happened in an mmo outside of a dungeon or raid.

Advanced Member

Joined: 5/18/04
Posts: 152

10/23/13 1:01:43 PM#17

Back in the day the MMO was not just a game but a social experiment. EQ before the days of PoP was a family with player ran marketplaces (EP Tunnel anyone?), friends lists that really were used, death penalties that made you fear dieing, no instances but actual caves with real live players in it with you, I could go on forever.

Todays games are about catering to the casual player. There is no risk vs reward anymore. Everyone can do everything which makes the game boring because as mentioned in the panel, if you can do it all then whats the point.

Gear is handed too you now on a silver platter. There is no work involved. Hell back in the days of EQ when you got your Epic it was damn well an epic experience. I will never forget the day I got mine with my Shaman. I can't say the same for any MMO sense.

The problem we have today is WOW. They have proven that if you cater the the lowest denominator your can make a crap ton of money. Blizzard could give a rats ass if you actually logon or not. They simply want you to keep paying that monthly subscription and they will give you anything and everything you want in order to get it.


Elite Member

Joined: 8/27/04
Posts: 8323

Perhaps tomorrow will be better.

10/23/13 1:05:57 PM#18

No question about it,they are relying on giving players easy reward to keep them happy.They are banking that a VERY small majority want to be challenged,where a high majority prefer to brag about what they have accomplished even if the accomplishment was simplistic.

Most game tasks now days are barely a task,more like follow the markers/sparklies and we will hold your hand directly to the objective,no need for you to think.People like to use the term train on rails,you know the track will hold your hand directly to the destination or paint by numbers,again if you can follow the lines you will complete the task.

I guess it is sort of like a 7th grade math teacher giving a quiz on the 2x table then the students get all excited because they aced it.Umm no even a grade 3 would ace the 2x table.

I like to be challenged but in a realistic way not some prescribed set pattern to follow.Example,i don't want to fight some boss that does the exact same sequence every time so it becomes clock work.I like a Boss to be versatile and change it up but not so bad that one move wipes a party.

A perfect example of how i like combat is when a Boss  might have an absorption ability that constantly changes,that keeps trigger happy spammers quiet and also keeps those elitist from bragging about their parsers because smarts and paying attention means more than that uber piece of gear you have.
Samoan Diamond


Advanced Member

Joined: 5/18/04
Posts: 152

10/23/13 1:07:59 PM#19
Originally posted by soltyspl

Keep in mind thata lot of difficulty in the past was - in many cases - equivalent to mindless timesink and repeting the same stuff over and over again. This had absolutely nothing to do with difficulty. "Modern" games got rid of timesinks, while doing little about difficulty.

There are/were exceptions (not without their own shortcomings, e.g. EvE, pre-f2p Tera, Neocron), but few and far between.



This is true and why MMO suck now. The original MMOs had it right. They were a world and not just a game. Take out the timesinks and mindless repetition and what you have is just a game and nothing more. If you don't have to EARN something, you don't respect it. One of the biggest time sinks in EQ was your Epic quest. Hell it took months if not years to complete. However, once done you had something special that you earned. As I mentioned above, I will NEVER forget the day I got my Shaman Epic.



Advanced Member

Joined: 3/24/09
Posts: 1835

10/23/13 1:08:19 PM#20
Originally posted by soltyspl

Keep in mind thata lot of difficulty in the past was - in many cases - equivalent to mindless timesink and repeting the same stuff over and over again. This had absolutely nothing to do with difficulty. "Modern" games got rid of timesinks, while doing little about difficulty.

There are/were exceptions (not without their own shortcomings, e.g. EvE, pre-f2p Tera, Neocron), but few and far between.


I disagree to an extent (though only an extent). I think there is a bit of misaprehension among many about what "time" actualy represents in a traditional MMO. Since traditionaly most MMO's don't "end" and players are never permanently "eliminated" from the game, there most be some mechanism to measure a players success or failure. "Time" is often used to represent a sort of currency of a players success or failure. For example, many players today would regard a corpse-run as a simple "time-sink". However, what it is really is a form of penalty imposed upon a player for failure at a task (staying alive) which has a cost in time and effort to recover from. Because the game never ends, ultimately the player will be able to recover completely from thier death no matter what (even without recovering the corpse).....but what they don't recover is the time and effort that death cost them.

Think of it as a slalom ski race. All racers will ultimately get to the finnish line eventualy but what measures how well they perform is how quickly they get to that finnish line. Missing a flag along the way imposes a penalty which costs them a certain amount of time.

I'm not saying that there aren't or weren't such things as time-sinks, nor am I saying that older games were particularly hard. However, what many players interpret as simple "time-sinks" or "inconveniences" were simply the games way of telling a player "You failed at is what failing cost you."





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