Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
 
How to deal with burnout

A commenter in the open Sunday thread complained about WoW and video game burnout, sitting in front of his computer and "just don't feel like playing". Well, the good news is that you are not alone. Especially World of Warcraft is definitely in a burnout phase, where lots of players have played through all or most of the new content of Wrath of the Lich King, and are bored or waiting for the next content patch.

Personally I'm a bit burned out as well with World of Warcraft, so I reduced the time I spend in the game. Curiously in my guild there has been a series of players quitting the guild, for reasons I can only assume are also related to burnout. I say curiously, because while several of these players cited the reason that our guild isn't hardcore enough, and want to join a more hardcore guild, our guild in fact finished Naxx 25, and is now working on Malygos. It isn't as if a more hardcore guild would have access to content our more casual guild isn't already doing. In fact it is likely that a more hardcore guild is having a far easier time than we do in Naxx 25, which is if anything *more* boring than playing with a guild which still needs to focus at the harder encounters. So while the train of thought "I'm bored" -> "Can't possibly be my fault" -> "Let's blame the guild and /gquit" is a classic one, I don't really see how joining a more hardcore guild is going to help right now. We're all in the same boat, waiting for Ulduar.

World of Warcraft or Wrath of the Lich King is like a book. A strange book, in which you don't have to read all chapters in order. But sooner or later you do have read all chapters, and your only options are to read the same chapters again and again, or to wait for the sequel. Burnout is completely natural, and there isn't anything negative about it. The negative thing is how some people handle it.

Switching to a different game doesn't always help, especially not if the new game isn't all that different. If you are burned out from WoW, playing another MMORPG in which you have NPCs with floating symbols over their head asking you to go out and kill 10 foozles might not help much. Or if you play one first-person shooter a lot, switching to a different one isn't going to bring back the fun for long. Sometimes switching the genre completely does help, especially if you go out and play various smaller games instead of concentrating on one big game.

But if you don't feel like playing, I can only advise you to not play. There is more to life than video games. Besides spending more time with friends and family, there are also lots of other entertainment options: books, magazines, TV, movies, DVD, surfing the internet, etc.

The important thing to realize is that burnout is something that is happening with *you*. No, it isn't World of Warcraft that suddenly changed to be less fun. No, your guild mates and online friends aren't to blame. It's you who is changing, who is getting bored, who is burning out. So try to handle it in a mature manner, without burning down bridges in a fit of rage. Explain to your guild mates that you will play less, or take a break. Unsubscribe if you really want to take a prolonged break, but don't delete your characters or give all your stuff away, there is a big chance you'll want to come back one day. If you are lucky enough to be in a good guild, with nice people, you'll still be welcome after your break, because the others in your guild cherish you as a person, and not just because of your character stats and raid performance. I'm very happy to be in a guild like that, and we had lots of burned out people recently coming back and be welcomed. Real people tend to last a lot longer than games and avatars.
Comments:
www.darkspace.net is a game i can definately recommend if you wanted to try and MMO thats "different". Its like EvE but not as.. spreadsheety. Its fairly small too, so has a sense of community :).
 
It's quite interesting how similar people's lives seem to be. This issue seems to be affecting the community fairly suddenly. It's like 2 weeks ago everything was ok, a few folks were bored but we were all good. The last 2 weeks I log on and there's almost nobody from my guild on, the auction house isn't as lively as normal and I get this general feeling of emptiness everywhere.

I guess it will change with the new patch. I skipped the BC era, so did this happen at any point during BC?

For me, I'm enjoying the game the most I ever have right now. I have 2 other real life friends and my wife to play with regularly. The four of us are taking on challenging content and generally having a blast trying to claw our way through dungeons with one party member fewer. Where a few months ago I was wanting to quit the game, now I feel like I can't wait to get home from work to play with my friends.
 
It's quite interesting how similar people's lives seem to be. This issue seems to be affecting the community fairly suddenly.
For quite a few people, a large part of the enjoyment is knowing that your friends are also having fun. If you know that your friend is bored out of his mind while playing, you'd feel guilty if you asked him to play more. And PuGs just aren't the same thing.

I've seen one guild that nearly dissolved when the majority of members left one by one, each citing the same reason: "It's not just the same if I'm not playing with X.", with X being one of the members who left earlier.
 
To me as an officer in a 200 member guild sometimes im just not in the mood for all the questions, politics and assorted other rubbish that i log into

I have been playing a bit of Dungeon Runners (Free to play 5 bucks a month for some extra stuff)

It is a solo or party game where the whole game is about killing monsters (600 Meg download)

Footster
 
@Foot

Dungeon Runners is a nice trance game. You can loose yourself in the act of monster slaying for hours. Keep some tissue handy for the drool...

@Tobold

My computer broke this week. It has had an ongoing problem for the past month. I changed the hard drive and thought it might be fixed but then the "problem" came back full force. Now, for the past three days I've had a paper weight. My machine won't turn on at all, no power whatsoever. Hoping it's just a power supply issue, but I might have fried the motherboard and/or CPU..."shiver".

That said, my issues couldn't have come at a better time. For the past several weeks I've just couldn't get back into gaming at all. Only logging into WoW to chat for a few minutes at most then logging off. My main is only 72 and has been that way for over a month.

Yesterday I finished a book. It was a fun book from a series I began reading two years ago. Didn't realize how much I missed it. I'm on the next book in the series now. Not even in a rush to fix my computer, happy to do my web browsing from the wife's laptop.
 
Yep, drool bucket next to the PC, after wow the mindlesness is great
 
There are singleplayer games out there. Books, movies, friends, sleeping or ... free-climbing. Lots of options. People are just a little bit too focused that they need to play THIS MMORPG. Or another MMORPG. Basically, the same, but not the same at the same time.

This is really a problem. This contradiction cannot get solved if people cannot get out of the mental cage that too much MMORPG-gaming built around their minds.
 
I took a half year break a year ago. Played through some of those single games I missed back then. Did come back to play with TLK and could pick up the game where I left, still in the same guild. But now, boredom is starting again. Playing less now (2 days/week) and picking up some other games. Did all heroics multiple times, cleared naxx and got all the items I need from it in 10 men. Levelled a profession to 450 and made some gold from it. Solod zul gurub & onyxia. I'm not into PVP and the lich king levelling content is too fresh in my mind to level an alt (and did do ALL zones so can't just level in another zone). And achievements can't keep me busy, I think it's mostly a waste of time. Neither am I the kind of player who's gonna try to "collect all tabards" or "get exalted with x factions". So yeah, pretty much seen all I want and waiting for ulduar. In the meantime, got time to watch more television or try some other games;
 
Dont get me wrong, im a scuba diver, have a sports motorcycle that i get out on, i just dont watch TV at all,

So when peeps are sitting drooling in front of the TV i would rather be drooling in front of my PC, that does mean that when i get tired of wow iv got to find other games to play
 
"I skipped the BC era, so did this happen at any point during BC?"

BC had non-recycled content that took longer than 3 days/weeks to finish, so no, not really.

And I think it's a bit unfair to just lay all the blame on the players here. If WoW had any challenging content (and not hand behind my back hoops), would all those raiding guilds really be 'burned out'? Burn out and simply running out of content are two very different things, and perhaps releasing an expansion without a single new raiding instance, and instead focusing on an aspect of the game you have taught your players to ignore (leveling) was not the smartest idea. The good news is the first content patch in months is coming 'soon'.
 
I'm playing DoW2 to deal with my burn out. So far it's atleast entertaining.
 
I don't see much talk of burnout with LotRO right now. I guess them releasing a huge update today helps.
 
Your post describes my approach to WoW very well, Tobold; play for awhile, make a few friends, let them know I won't be on much for awhile (months to a year), cancel the sub (but not deleting anything, knowing I'll be back; my first MMO holds some emotional value yet), return and say hello to whoever is still around, play for a few months, etc. For some reason I tend to resubscribe in the fall (Minnesota winters might have something to do with this, though I really enjoy outdoor activities in the snow). WoW is immersive like no other MMO has been, and I think this is due in part to having been so enamored with the novelty when I started.
 
I guess it will change with the new patch. I skipped the BC era, so did this happen at any point during BC?
I started feeling burned out in BC when we got Black Temple on farm and we didn't progress much in Sunwell. However, the real breaking point was the jump from Sunwell to Wrath. During the first weekend after release, some guildies were clearing Naxxramas in a PuG and I kept seeing comments like "This boss is hard, he didn't die on first pull" in guildchat. After I dinged 80 it became apparent that they were not kidding.

To me, an integral part of the fun is the challenge. Ideally, the difficulty should be one where you barely, just barely prevail after giving it your best shot. If the game is so hard that you make no progress whatsoever (or even regress) or it's so easy that you never have to focus, then it isn't fun. And when it's not fun, it's time to quit.
 
I can deffinatly relate to WoW burnout at the moment. I've barely logged my druid main over the last few weeks other then to do my daily JC quest. I have been leveling an alt hunter, which is the only class i've not tried before which is proving to be pretty fun.

The best thing i've done to deal with burnout is go play some FPS's (My 2nd favourite genre)Going to back to playing the half-life series. And i decided to buy Crysis off steam after being lured in by how amazing the visuals are. Not only does crysis actually look amazing but its one of the most entertaining games i think i've ever played. Would recomend to anyone else feeling the burnout.
 
When people say your guild isn't hardcore enough, maybe they just want something with more serious rules (less "friendly, social" priorities), or maybe they want a guild that is doing Sarth+3 drakes. That is definitely content that your guild might not even be attempting ever, given that you haven't downed Maly yet and Ulduar is on the horizon.
 
Hatch, does doing one boss with 3 drakes really that big of a deal to leave your guild that is otherwise clearing everything?

Hell no it isn't. Or if it is, nobody will really give a shit when you're gone since you had no connection to your guild at all anyway.

People don't like quitting WoW; it's what they do with their spare time, etc. The idea of not playing it leaves a big hole in their schedule that they don't know how to fill. So instead of just turning the computer off they start trying to figure out what in the game is making it suck. The guild is pretty much the only thing they can change (leveling a new toon is too boring!), so that's what they do.

Odds are they'll flap around in their current guild for a while, realize they are still bored, and do something even more drastic.

I'm kind of pleased to see my doom n gloom prophecies weren't totally off. 5 months into a new xpac and burnout is common? My god. And of course the next dungeon they release will start out nerfed to hell too so that will hold people's attention for a few months before they are back on the oven.

Can Blizz develop content fast enough to keep people in the hamster wheel if they pre-nerf it? What happened to the raiding is for everyone thing if they stop pre-nerfing it?

Quite a pickle eh? Diluting the product for the sake of volume never works for lifestyle products like WoW. Always backfires.
 
Interesting thought.

Blizzard reached it's largest jump in Subscriptions during Vanilla WoW. Getting it to the 8-9 Million mark. Since then they have grown by about 3 million. They have also started, since Vanilla WoW, advertising in China more.

Why are they desiging and changing the game's over all design now? Shouldn't they keep the same over all design philosphy that got them 9 million people rather than changing it to the one that got them 3 million more? Make stuff hard now, and nerf it into the ground 6 months from now. The game is simply to easy and that is why everyone, hardcores and casual's are burning out.
 
A whole lot of people here seem to forget that quite a few people stopped playing WoW before BC was released... I'm assuming because they were burned out and bored? We experienced the same thing near the tail end of BC. When content has been out for a while people get bored of it, that's how its always worked and how it continues to work.

I just simply can't understand the people who dislike the current design philosophy in which everyone is able to experience content while there are still extremely difficult challenges for the hardcore players to tackle. Who care's if it's a gimmick that doesn't make RP sense? If hard mode is fun, challenging, changes significantly from normal mode, and very few people have done it... doesn't that make hard mode just like the raids before with the exception that a larger player base has access to it? I get the feeling people just enjoy whining.
 
Vanilla WoW was around for what, 2 years before the xpac? BC lasted another two years. WOTLK is 5 months old and its got burnout.

The pace is accelerating. There's only so much you can do about it really, I mean add all the bosses you want, its the same basic game and all but the most dedicated people have definite arcs to their WoW career regardless of what content is going on. But I don't think making everything ez mode is really the right way to go. WoW is based on a sense of accomplishment, like what you did was hard. If every motherfucker on the server is clearing Naxx 25, it isn't impressive anymore and that defeats one of the main reasons to play.
 
The acceleration of burnout has nothing to do with design changes, but everything to do with the fact that a sequel is just that, a sequel, not something completely new. Whatever the content of future expansions, people will burnout faster and faster. And no, BC didn't last 2 years, there was already a huge dip in subscription numbers a few months after release.
 
And no, BC didn't last 2 years, there was already a huge dip in subscription numbers a few months after release.
Would you mind providing a link to the material you base this on? MMOGChart shows no dips between January 2007 and January 2008, only reductions in the growth. The dip due to Age of Conan's release (May 2008) occurred later, so it isn't shown on the chart.
 
Here is the link you requested.
 
Thanks.

After some digging, I found the most recent version of the chart, which shows a definite trend. A spike after an expansion which tapers off after a few months. Black Temple and Sunwell caused resurgencies of their own, but those are nothing compared to Zul'Aman, which produced a spike comparable to BC's initial release. But if you look at the end of the chart, there's an additional instance of the resurgence-decay pattern, even though no new content was released during that period. And by comparison, the decays in previous instances were much more gradual. Something special is happening, but it's hard to say what.

One should remember that the chart tracks activity, not subscriptions. It can't tell whether people unsubscribed or simply didn't log on for some unspecified reason. Based on the chart alone, it's plausible that Blizzard's major retuning of content is working and people don't stay logged on because they don't have to. And it's equally plausible that Blizzard's plan is not working and people are getting bored/burned out/disillusioned/whatever at a more rapid pace. The numbers can be twisted to support either of those viewpoints.
 
Or a bit of both.

If all my buds stopped logging, that would accelerate my burnout.

The game isn't growing very much anymore, and it's already been established that the 11 million number is ... not enlightening even if it is technically accurate. It certainly doesn't reflect the NA/EU market subs which I suspect have been mostly flat for the last few years (with fluctuations for expansions and dungeons, but that is mostly old people returning for a while).

Flat is no good! No good at all. Because the average player has a life cycle. They play, they get bored, they quit (or at least become very mercurial). I wouldn't even know where to begin counting the number of people I've known over my two years of WoW who quit or disappeared. All the xpacs and dungeons in the world only delay that, they don't stop it. Flat subs are the point where the churn (people leaving, new people coming in, old people coming back) is roughly even. The downward slope is coming. Blizz will use the China subs to make things look better than they are, but the slide is coming. Hell, it might be started already. For the first two years, its up up up, now the xpac sets the summit and its a spikey trip down from there.

What's curious to me is that if we take the 5 million subs as a real number, why are there only a million primetime players? It would seem to me that it's not really primetime if 80% of the accounts aren't playing.
 
@Toxic
China subs have been dropping extremely fast because the government there has put a stop to Wrath for reasons of questionable content (undead are taboo in Chinese society). If Blizzard is padding their subscription numbers its not in China.
 
http://nobosh.com/sr/click-here-to-read-the-full-story/193647/

Shit that happened in the last few months would have prevented padding for the past few years?
 
Has anyone noticed that this MMO burnout phenomenon seems to be at an all time high right now?

Following a lot of MMO blogs and forums as I do, I am amazed by how prevalent this topic is over the last month or two. It really bears more examination.

My theory is that this is the inevitable results of 3-4 years of WoW Cloning. There simply aren't any real alternatives out there right now. WoW is the best WoW, and that model is really showing its age. And all the clones are really just pale imitations.

Unless you are a big fan of Eve, you really have no options right now.

-Michael
Muckbeast - Game Design and Online Worlds
http://www.muckbeast.com
 
Is it burnout or just boredom? I have cancelled my subscription and my game time expires this week. And I tell you, it is not *me* who has changed, but the game.

Blizzard have removed crowd control, mana management, the aggro mechanic, the need to out dps the tank etc etc. Whether this adds fun to the game or not depends on your perspective: it certainly doesn't for me but then I'm not one of the people who thought that while Black Temple was nice, it would have been PERFECT if only I'd been able to run it and watch TV at the same time.

But whether you think the new "WoW-lite" is more fun or less fun, one of the consequences is the need to play much less.

The truth is that I spent many hours in the TBC era doing activities that weren't exactly "fun" but it was always with the purpose of improving my character. The difference is that in WotLK there is no real reason to do much of anything because the content is so trivial that the upgrades are meaningless.

My warlock does about 4k dps on an average 25-man boss. I don't have a single piece of raid loot, no enchants and i'm a long way short of hit capped. Prior to the last expansion this would have made me a scrub and I guess it still does. But since I am doing about twice the required damage output already it's really hard to motivate myself to grind out my shoulder enchant, to collect herioc badges or franky, to log in at all.

Another problem with the new easy mode is a major loss of replayablilty. If every heroic is a boring AoE chain pull with limited loot that you can run the moment you hit the level cap, what's the point? It isn't fun. It isn't rewarding. It's about as relevant as Maraudon.

A recent interview (http://news.cnet.com/8301-10805_3-10156015-75.html) in which Steve Balmer admitted that Linux (rather than Apple) was the biggest competitor on the MS horizon got me thinking: When the Activision/Blizzard money men get together to talk future strategy, which games and revenue models do they most fear? Given that Blizzard have near complete user data and that they have reworked the entire game to make it completely accessible to a six year old with ADHD I can only assume that it is FreeRealms and Hello Kitty Online that have them the most worried.

They have made a strong start in converting from a game into an animated chat environment but the bad news for them is that $15/m is still far above the going rate for that market. They will lose the gamers first, and the lols and giggles crowd will leave anyway, to greener, cheaper pastures.
 
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