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Community Spotlight: Have You Experienced MMO Burnout?

Posted by MikeB Thursday June 16 2011 at 3:45PM
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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.

Mimzel writes:

I guess im having tell tale signs of being burnt out on the mmorpg genre... Guess it's because it's the same old same old all the time. Havent found a game I cant connect with for years now...

Thu Jun 16 2011 5:13PM Report
Mimzel writes:

*can connect with

Thu Jun 16 2011 5:14PM Report
Terranah writes:

The idea of the mmorpg is much more compelling than the reality these days.  Instead of developers reaching for the stars, their reaching for your wallets.


Now, there's nothing wrong with making money.  I'm a capitalist.  If you do something amazing, you should be rewarded similarly.  The problem is mmo's are not so amazing these days.  That's why you are seeing the collapse of p2p and a move toward f2p. Gaming companies are openly acknowledging that their work no longer is worth money upfront, so now they will rely on their marketing goons to make their games compelling. 


So, what is wrong with the mmo industry?  Well, they set the standards very high initially and then have been back pedalling ever since.  They've regressed so far that even other genres that previously would have never been considered mmo's are saying, "Hey we're mmo's too...look, we have 32 players in one area!" 


Back in the beginning we had open worlds, uninstanced for the most part, player housing, unscripted events and virtual lives and communities of our own making.  Looking forward, it was natural to assume the worlds of future mmos would become more beautiful, larger, more compelling . 


And in some ways the worlds were larger, but far less compelling.  Adventure and exploration....what happened to these things!  Instead of adventure we got scripted events.  And exploration seemed to matter less as it was clear quests were the driving force behind content.  Worlds became instanced zones and zones became quest clusters, and quest clusters became xp grinds, and millions of drones around the world stared at their screens for hours click click clicking their lives away for what?!  To reach max level?  As if that was some kind of accomplishment.  For awhile, a little while, it seemed to be.


But it was never about max level.  It was about living in a world, being a part of a community that felt alive and unscripted.  It was the freedom to hop on a swoop bike or a horse and ride across the world and never hit a load screen...just ride.  It was the excitement of discovering some place that was off the beaten path, that seemed private , personal...but was part of the larger world, not some digitally conjured room isolated and lonely.


I think the mmo is not going to go away soon.  It will limp along in some fashion.  Just as some people stare mindlessly at their screens and play solitair, there will be those who will be content to click click the quest get the reward.  Little mice in a maze. 


And others will be where we started years before mmos even existed, staring off into space, imagining worlds that seem so real in our minds, but so far away still.

Thu Jun 16 2011 6:22PM Report
DasKraut46 writes:

You said it beautifully Terranah!

Thu Jun 16 2011 10:02PM Report
whiteskytigr writes:

It's the classic tale of what is new and what is old. People still think that mmos need all fresh and new ideas to work. This is nonsense. Everything has already been written and done by now. There is nothing you can think up that doesn't fall into a genre now days. The problem is that people see a exp system and levels and think "boring" instead of trying to see if the developers innovated it. It's the players that put this upon themselves. The players bit, chewed, nawed and clawed the developers til the developers became numb and ignored them.

Now, mmo burn out is 2 sided. It takes a game that tries to nickle and dime you, and a mmo player that plays more than 20 hours a week that thinks he or she needs to live inside that world. The genre should not be reaching out to casual players, rather refine itself and take to a new height of lackluster. Instead of spoonfeeding millions of noobs, gather your 1 million hardcore players and make a world that sucks them in.

The current problem is that most players want to live inside this world, forever without being bored. I can give players full control over their own towns, forts, castles, kingdoms, guilds, characters, skills, pets, mounts, items, and environment. To a certain extent you can do pretty much anything in customization. The problem is simple, people will get burnt out on it. They will find it lacking and want more then come on here and complain. If I offer a solution to a problem, it will soon later become a problem.

People need to change to, but that won't happen. We cater to the masses, and because of that we sacrificed the sanctification of minds of players that think a like with the now players that scream WoW invented the world, Chuck Norris is some deity, and that religion on politics should be banned. I feel degraded when reviving my memories of such things I have seen and experienced in the game communities.

Fri Jun 17 2011 1:27AM Report
Amaranthar writes:

I'm not burnt out, I just don't see a game the way I want and expect for a massively multiplayer persistent world. 

I do get a little P.O.ed about it, because I know I'm not alone and yet the big gaming companies won't build what I want, what I think would be a huge success. But it's not burnout.

Fri Jun 17 2011 8:40AM Report
Khalathwyr writes:

What Terranah said!

I'd add that it has also strengthend the point of view that I don't have to waste my money on giving a company's blatantly half-hearted  attempt of an MMO a chance.

Fri Jun 17 2011 11:03AM Report
garry writes:

Ummmm...burn out. Interesting term to be applied to an MMO. Am I burned out for MMOs? No. I read the hype from sites like MMORPG and enjoy it well enough. Forums are a little more difficult to read as the hatemongers are loudest. Don't mind criticism of a game but more and more there are those who insult and degrade anyone who disagrees with them or who likes a game.


I have played a dozen or more MMO games (I am a former game designer) and I am retired now and have the time and resources to play pretty much what and how much I like. I have been disappointed in many many games after varying lengths of play. Presently I will buy and play SWtOR, TSW and GW2 (I know GW2 is F2P but I can invest in its MT). Being retired I play MMOs as my hobby and plan on having at least 3 going. I play 2 at present (LOTR and Star Trek). I have WOW on my comp but recently shut it down.


I like to try out games and my first choice goes to Genre. Being a Star Wars 'fanboi' I jumped on SWG. Almost immediately I hit the Arcade Space Game and simply left. Tried again with a friend and on the first ground mission (kill some slugs) I found myself facing slugs 20+ levels above me and got wiped as well as losing my brand new speeder bike. When does the fun part begin? Won't go back.


Still, I love MMOs and will keep on buying and playing those that interest me. Genre gets my interest first and then hype and finally play. I count on forum posters (mostly) to find out the mechanics of a game. FPS/arcade stuff leaves me cold for interest.


Hype is fine and fun to see and hear from a company. Enjoy cruising thru sites like MMORPG for interesting stuff. But the decisions I make are based simply what I like and willing to pay for. No excuses and I am definitely not burnt out.


Fri Jun 17 2011 11:53AM Report
MindTrigger writes:

If by 'burnout' you mean I am sick and tired of the lack of innovation in MMO games over the last 5+ years; then yes, I am burned out.

I'm actually tired of seeing this used as an excuse to throw at people when they are having trouble finding an interesting game to stick with.  I have been playing FPS games since the original Wolfenstein, and I have never burned out on them. Why?  Because they continue to change and evolve.  MMO's have been stagnent other than a slight increase in eyecandy.  In fact, many here would agree that they have actually moved backwards offering fewer features, and a more controlled, boring hamster wheel experience.

Fri Jun 17 2011 6:33PM Report
Raventree writes:

While I haven't been bitterly disappointed by any MMO yet, I am beginning to experience burnout anyway.  After WoW became boring and I started trying out other games, I began to feel like they are all the same game, reskinned.  It is not that I am sick of MMOs, just that I am sick of playing the same game with a few minor changes.  It gets boring fast because I have already done this a bunch of times before!

Fri Jun 17 2011 7:48PM Report
kjempff writes:

Read Terranah's post at the top.

Since 1999 I have experienced mmo(rpg) burnouts, but it is not like you describe it a total burnout from the genre. As I suspect most long term mmorpg gamers know, it is important to take breaks from mmorpgs if not to loose focus of the good stuff. When you start seeing the signs of burnout on a game, it is a good idea to take a few months away or even longer, and when/if you return to the game, you will find new sides to the game that you were blind to before. That is what mmo(rpg) burnout is to me, a sign saying you done this enough now, take a breather.


That beeing said, generally games in all genres have degraded since the 90ies.. well changed. It is like games have forgotten their core features and spend time on unimportant details.. or unimportant when the core features doesn't work well. On top of that, money changed the genre too and it is becomming increasingly more obvious how these games are designed as threadmills and cash machines. Sure games have always been made for profit, it is just painfully obvious in newer games. I guess alot of gamers wait for that game that is made by enthusiasts rather than suits, and therefore will feel more like an alternative world, rather than a constructed adventure. If I want constructed adventure, I will read a book or watch a movie, but there is a reason I play games and not watch tv much - And that is I have choices in a game, and it is not entirely one way communication. Kindda funny now we have 100 times more computing power than 10 years ago, that it has not manifested in better games.


Burned out on mmorpgs ? nop, but slightly burned out on cash cow projects that has come out the last decade. Also it is time to invent new genre names, because alot of new games don't really qualify to be called mmorpg.

Sat Jun 18 2011 9:49AM Report
AtmaDarkwolf writes:

Yes, I'd have to say I'm feeling burnt out.


An old school gamer that really started to mmo back in Asheron's call, (Played a bit of UO before that but not serious) All the games since have always been stacked up against what AC made me feel.


Now its ddo. But the direction the game is headed I'm feeling the need for something new, but every game out there feels like rehashed old stuff with a new look(some not even a new look tbh) and I am sick of it.


Nowdays, I do not want to risk a sub, and most games that have trials I have already tried. F2p games are good(some) in the sense u can 'try before u buy' but for the most part, none of them lacked the 'pay to win' feeling. And I do not want to pay to win.


I played Mabinogi a long while, and back when u could (though the item shop) get a subscription of sorts(Item protection, res's, etc) it was worth it. I could play it and get into it, and if i choose, could 'buy' a sub. But now even thats gone, and the game has went the way of the hackfest/3rd part app infested game, its not evne worth logging in.


DDO still does it for me, but its boring when you have seen it all / have no intrest in the planned stuff, and lets face it, its been a long time, and we want something 'new'


But when 'new' is only TOR and other games (Which really, imo, only look like more of the same 'ol same old.) I guess yes, i am burnt out.


Been trying single player games(Fallout NV, amnisia, etc) but once u done, evne after 3-4 runs though, your off looking for the next. And single player games don't have the community which is a big thing for me.

Wed Jul 13 2011 5:39PM Report writes:
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