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Community Spotlight: Have You Experienced MMO Burnout?

Posted by MikeB Thursday June 16 2011 at 4:45PM
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This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "Is there anyone on these forums who hasn't been burnt out by an MMO or by their hyped expectations?" by MMO.Maverick. The topic should be pretty obvious given the thread title, so let's jump right in starting with the OP himself:

I read a lot of bitterness on these forums: people feeling disappointed, disillusioned, betrayed, their hopes crushed, hurt to the point that they've lost trust in any promise or hype, you name it, the whole wide range of hurt emotions.

For a wide range of games too, people sometimes even walking around with a grudge or simmering hatred for years for what happened to them with an SWG NGE or AoC or WAR or any of the other MMO's where people were all hyped up only to be bitterly disappointed after a launch or with a change in the game they played: a bitterness, pain or disillusion that didn't just go away within a short period of time but that kept lingering, often to the point that it changed the way they look upon things from then on, with that 'never again' kind of mindset almost similar to bad breakups.

In fact, I see it so abundantly on these forums that I'm starting to wonder whether I'm the only one or of a very few that has undergone the past 10 years of MMO gaming relatively unscathed. I think there hasn't been an MMO all that time where there was such a huge gap between my expectations and how a game turned out for me to the point of disillusion, or where any disappointment lasted longer than a few weeks.

So that's why my question: has everyone here gained persistent scars in their years of MMO gaming, or are there others who walked past that all up till now relatively unscathed?

And if so, what did you think made the difference?

blezywum was burnt out the most by Warhammer Online:

Ever since WAR it's been hard for me to believe the hype.  My pessemism gets stronger with each new game I try.  I'm excited for GW2 at the moment, but I'm just going to wait and see.  Honestly, I hope a handful of these upcoming games are actually good and ready for the long haul.  I'm tired of getting games I don't want to play after 2-3 months.  I'm also tired of seeing people complain about the current crop of MMOs.  It would be nice if we were all (or most of us) happy for a change. It's been a while.

GreenHell isn't so attached to these experiences so as to allow himself to get burnt out:

At the end of the day these are just games. To stay pissed off and hold a grudge about something like the NGE is pointless. All you can do is make your voice heard by hitting the cancel button. Thats it.

If you have invested so much of yourself on an emotional level to a game that you feel betrayed when it changes that is really just on you. Games change and when they become not so fun I leave.

As far as launch hype goes I dont really listen to any of it. To me it is a waste of time to watch hours of videos and trailers. I'll just try it when it launches.

MumboJumbo starts to feel the burn once he's basically gone through the game once and acquired all the skills:

I get bored too quickly in an mmo after aquiring all the new skills that allow a new experience is finished ie the starting phase, so never get to the halfway stage of grind and where probably the burn-out process really cranks it out?! I think mmorpgs suffer a unique problem: They are designed to be truly large worlds except that players have to accept that the main interaction or the only interaction is being able to hop around on one foot all the time they are there, all over this shiny new world without being able to use their hands. So it does not matter how big those worlds are, if the interaction is as caricatured as above, then no wonder players "burn out" repeating the same modus operandi so exhaustively in the majority of these mmorps, with arms tied behind their backs observing these splendid lands... hopping forth!

I like what GW2 has done with the environmental weapons and picking objects up, transforming into something or swimming underwater and changing what skills you have to use... more of this please... a lot more could reduce burn-out syndrome? : )

I have a few stories to tell on this front, starting with the typical NGE burn-out story. SWG was my first MMO and it had problems from the get go, as enjoyable as it was, it was also a mess. I toughed it out for several years watching SOE break things that were working while not really addressing the real issues that needed to be fixed. This was pretty stressful as I would wait for every new major update hoping that this or that major issue would be addressed to no avail. Then came the Combat Update, the second Combat Update (I thought things were pretty good after the second Combat Update, actually!), and after the NGE like many of you I was just done. It was actually the fact that I felt things were on the right track with the second Combat Update that made the NGE all the more worse for me. I remember thinking to myself , "Finally, after all these years things are looking up!" and then the rug being pulled under me with the NGE just months later. Ouch!

Since then I've burnt out on quite a few MMOs, but mostly because I was really looking for that SWG experience again. It took a long time for me to make peace with the fact that just wasn't going to happen (but yes, I am over it).

As far as hype goes, Age of Conan was the biggest letdown for me. I passionately ran an Age of Conan fansite on the WarCry Network for a good while and was very much taken in by all the promises made only to find the game was a complete and utter mess outside of Tortage at launch. I wasn't really too cynical before this point, but I learned quickly why so many of my colleagues in the press often meet the lofty claims of a developer with a strong dose of caution. To be fair, I think developers learned from the WAR and Conan debacles of 2008 and have pared it back a bit since then. Many developers often opt to only talk about things they say are actually in the game at this point in order to avoid this sort of issue later, and I'm thankful for that. Still, I can't help being cautious these days. Being excited for a new game is fun, but keeping expectations realistic is important. Worst case scenario, the game surprises you and is better than you thought it would be. That's a lot better than the opposite feeling! ;)

To add to the discussion started by MMO.Maverick, I'd also like to know if any of you have noticed any telltale signs that you're becoming burnt out on a game. For me,  the first time I catch myself absentmindedly running around in circles I know it's the beginning of the end. Once I start doing that, I'm likely to be done with the game in a matter of weeks or months.