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The Casual Life by Wintyre Fraust

An older, casual player's perspective on MMOG's in general and GW2 in particular.

Author: Meleagar

Can An MMOG Be Successful Long-Term Without an End-Game Power Grind? Facts Say Yes.

Posted by Meleagar Friday August 10 2012 at 12:22PM
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In several threads in the GW2 forums now, many people have raised the "concern" that they don't believe GW2 (and by implication, any MMORPG) can be financially successful long-term, or hold onto "enough" players long-term, unless they have an ongoing end-game power-grind such as that found in WoW and most other current MMORPGs.

In their stated opinion, they appear to think that "most players" will burn through all of the regular content and have maxed out characters within a couple of months, and that unless they then enjoy engaging in PvP for cosmetic rewards, there will be no reason for them to stay.

This "concern" stems from several unfounded assumptions.  According to information freely accessible from, a site dedicated to an ongoing analysis of real MMOG player statistics and information,  under the heading of "what do players want to see in MMOs?", there 18 items on the list ahead of "High-Level Content: Content for large raids. Challenging endgame content."  Only 2% of respondents wanted to see more end-game in an MMOG.

According to the list, the things most players wanted to see were more interesting and variable-outcome quests, more customization options, more soloable content, more storyline, more casual content, more PvP content, more crafting/tradeskill content, and more role-playing content.

Also according to the site, and according to the rankings of motivations of the average player, achievement takes a back seat to fantasy immersion and escaping the real world, and is about on par with the desire simply to socialize in the game environment.

In an analysis of the player life-cycle, the data indicates that burnout of MMOG players is pretty much a direct result of grind and social obligation overload/frustration.  They are not end-game power-grinding with friends because it is enjoyable, but rather because it has become their duty/obligation.

As the data indicates, the re-entry of those burnout players often coincides with them developing a more casual playstyle that avoids that which becomes unenjoyable and burns them out on the game.  They avoid big raiding guilds and end-game grinds.

End-game power grinds ultimately burn players out, and in any event, developers cannot hope to keep up with them content-wise.  Such power and achievement oriented gaming is not, according to the numbers, the reason why the vast majority of players play MMOGs anyway. It seems to me that except for a minority of players that require such an end-game power-grind because it happens to be their primary motivation, the presence of such a power-grind system can only serve to disenfranchise the vast majority of players because they will see that they are considered "2nd rate" by the developers, who reserve the best and most powerful content for the relatively small percentage that are willing and able to  invest that kind of time and effort into the game.

The data at the site makes it clear that the presence of an end-game power grind system is simply not necessary for a game to have wide appeal to the vast majority of players, and that is not even a concern to all but 2% of players who wish to see more of such content in MMOGs.