Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
 
How long is normal for playing a MMORPG?

Keen, who has a reputation for going through hype and disappointment cycles faster than the rest of us, is writing about hype and disappointment cycles. He says "I’m worried about those who DON’T follow the pattern at this point. They are the weird ones." And to some extent I agree. Anybody who starts a new MMORPG these days with the idea to play it nearly every day for the next 5 to 10 years is either deluding himself, or seriously weird. There might still be some nutters out there who confuse playing in a virtual world with some sort of pseudo-religious experience, but fortunately that isn't the norm any more.

Having said that, I was somewhat disappointed that SWTOR didn't last a bit longer than it did for me. I kind of lost interest just 6 weeks after release. I would have hoped for at least 3 months. If we start measuring how long a MMORPG keeps us interested in weeks instead of months, there is barely any more difference left between a MMORPG and an offline single-player game. And there simply aren't enough big MMORPGs coming out each year to keep playing MMORPGs all the time if you go through each game in less than 2 months.

So what is a "normal" time span for playing a MMORPG for you? What are your expectations how long you will play the upcoming MMORPGs of 2012? And how do those expectations fit with your history of the last few years?
Comments:
So finally the immunisation to the 'play forever'/play for half a decade or longer is finally sweeping in, with the former incubators now peering down noses at remaining remnants of such practice?

It's funny, mention a mmorpg with an ending awhile ago and you'd be told 'you just don't get it'. Still will in various places, I'd guess.
 
Isn't the answer supposed to be "long enough to make friends"? Once you have friends, the game's fun (mostly) ceases to be relevant in any sort of pressing way.

I do not think there is anyone out there playing WoW (or any MMO) because of its satisfying solo experience. You might be able to substitute random BGs/PvP as something meaningful enough to keep interest high, but then again LoL/TF2/Counter-Strike don't have monthly fees.
 
Six months of regular play and I'd be very happy indeed. Not many games have ever managed that for me - just WoW and Atlantica, I think, although LOTRO would probably have six months spread out over a few periods of a couple of months each.
 
Wow, six weeks? That long? I'm more prone to the PvD cycle where downloading the game takes as much time as I spend playing it... then it's on to the next MMO. Which is why I didn't bother with SWTOR; In the back of my mind I knew I wouldn't play it that long.
 
I played WoW for almost 7 years, pretty much exclusively. Since quitting it awhile back I've dabbled in various small sub and F2P MMOs, and usually those each last about 6 months or so, though sometimes I go back and dink around in them for a month or two off and on after long breaks.

But I guess I'm one of those weirdos who would prefer to just have one game for a few years.
 
Good MMORPG on average should last one year at least. It is enougth to experience all levels of content without a hurry, but memory of it wont last long in that case, IMHO. 2-3 years is good, and will leave footprints in memory. WoW lasted almost 4 years before starting to decline for me. And I think it took all my interest in genre, cause I dont want to play MMORPG any more.
 
I would like to see six months of play out of a MMO. To me, that gives me value for the combined cost of the box and the monthly payments.

My first true MMO was WoW and that was over two years of play. Since that time, I've only played one MMO for more than six months (Fallen Earth).

The others I've tried have lasted a couple of months at most, and some not even through the first free month.



I find it all very disappointing. I think that's because I come into MMOs from MUDs. I only ever played two MUDs seriously, both of which I played for years. These were games where I knew people, where I was part of things, and were I actually enjoyed logging in and playing the game. Too many MMOs now seem to end up feeling like I'm logging into work because I'm having to do too many things I do not enjoy to get to the few things I do enjoy.

In truth, I am one of those crazy fools looking for a game I can play for several years again.
 
For me it's pretty much as for you it seems, a few weeks or a month or two and then it's enough. With each new MMO it's just the same old concept with a few extra improvements of differences. Been there done that.

SWTOR has great class stories, but I just can't bring myself to grind through all the other content once again just to see the other new stories on my alts. It's not a bad game, just the same old stuff as basically all the previous MMOs.

I think that the MMO genre needs some really new creative thinking to renew our interest, us MMO veterans. At least that's what I think.
 
I think for me age plays a role here or maybe time is the better word; I know that I will never spend the same amount of time on any MMO no more, not even Gw2, the way I did on WoW. things will be more casual for me in the future, even if I expect to play Gw2 a lot in the beginning. but I can't/won't commit to raiding or similar in the same ways.

I don't know if it's because I'm 8 years older now or simply because I've been there and done a lot (if not all), but I think both play a role. once we have gone through that first, really intense stage with an MMO (that 'mind-altering' experience maybe), can we truly ever repeat it with a next one?

I'm not sure, I think not. the more you've already played, the more you've seen. in a way, every big MMO that isn't your first one is at a disadvantage. WoW did so well because it was a first for so many players.

if GW2 holds to its promises, I expect to play it regularly until next year at least...which would be more than the usual 3-6 months in AoC or Rift.
 
I was very excited in swtor at the start but for some reason I got bored..I don't think is the fault of the game as others say, and most important the link you provide it makes a comparison with wow...

it say somewhere "I didn't feel the need to communicate with others while leveling" ..swtor have 30-40 group quests while leveling while wow have 0 now..so wow is more single player in leveling.

nevermind, I was playing Skyrim yesterday again and after so many hours I am still just traveling through mountains and forests and admire the epic world they have created..I really feel like I am in the game. the music, the world..why the hell there is no MMO with the world of Skyrim??
 
I currently play 10 hours a week and don't look at how long a time in general I play.

SWTOR looks interesting and a lot of my online buddies are thinking of moving over to it, so I will have a look too, but I doubt it will "replace" WoW.
 
How long is normal for playing cards with your friends every week? I think this is a weird question because MMOs are just another social hobby for me. I played WoW with friends for nearly 5 1/2 years, and I intend to keep playing SWTOR for a long time, though it depends on how long people stick with it as a group.
 
For me, WoW became a hobby in its own right. It wasn't the first time that has happened with a game and I hope it won't be the last.

In my experience, a "normal" time to remain involved with a hobby can range from years (short) to life (can't get much longer!). So if a game comes along that grasps my attention that firmly again, I'll be happy to sink in. Who knows, it may even be WoW!

For regular games that fail to transcend that particular boundary, I'd say "normal" is a month or two.
 
Good topic! The prevailing paradigm for MMOs seems to be 'play for years' at the moment. Any company making one is doing so for the express purpose of hooking you for tens of months. And while there's always going to be people fresh to MMOs who will fall into that category, I can only see that number diminishing.

Personally I'd give any new MMO with a monthly subscription model three months and no more. There's too many exciting games being released to be lost in one game for years again. I'd also include expansions to MMOs I've already played in that. So SW:TOR will be unsubbed in April, GW2 will get three months, TSW will get three months and so on for any interesting looking MMOs. MoP will also get it's three months in the sun.

Free-to-play would get the same time with a monthly spending limit equal to a monthly sub but these would obviously have a lower re-entry barrier.

So 'normal' to me would be about a quarter of a year, which is going to be different to the industry expectation of 'normal' which is years. People change and expectations change, three years ago I'd be far more closely alligned to the industrys tens of months expectation. These days not so much.

Things are moving fast in online gaming, normal is changing for game players and game developers every year.
 
Even Blizzard nowadays is following a clear lifecyle idea instead of trying to improve the game on an absolute scale. The reason they don't gain any new players, who stay for years, is that they don't even try. They just try to cater to the existing ones because that's what the lifecycle says.

Nowaday's MMOs aren't designed to be played for much longer than a few months. The deluded ones are sitting in the management: they see a MMO and think it is going to be as profitable as a virtual world.
 
My mean time to boredom is probably about three months but unlike Keen I don't swing from loving a game madly to loathing it. I generally move on with fond memories and I have often returned to older games for a month or so and enjoyed picking up where I left off.
 
I put in 5 years in both EQ1 and WoW. After quitting both of those eventually, it's been more realistically to about a year. I recently bought SWTOR and expect to get 6 months or so out of it.

For me, it depends on replayability. I love alts and without being able to go back through content and experience something new, the game doesn't do much for me.
 
I think the novelty of an MMORPG has been lost. When it was the new kid on the block, everyone loved it. I think, for a lot of people, the current state of the MMORPG market is not meeting their needs. Many people are burned out from playing WoW for 5-8 years+, and other MMOs for so long that they lost their patience with them.

Plus, once you have played WoW, nothing else seems to quite add up. But it goes deeper than that. Even if Blizzard came out with a new hit MMO tomorrow, I don't think I would play it more than just on a casual basis. The genre is just too demanding time-wise.
 
Nil's I have to disagree with you that Blizzard is only playing to their existing audience. Have you noticed the recent mount they introduced and the whole concept of Mists of Pandoria? With potential sales to a billion Chinese there is definitely a marketing focus in play. You can be sure that there will be many new WOW players with the new expansion.
 
Scugger, I can't talk about the future. Only Blizzard knows what they want. But the last expansion was pretty damn clear.

- The heirlooms made new players feel extremely weak compared to old players.

- No matter what you did you always outleveled the content - often dramatically - and had to choose between seeing the story or gaining experience. A terrible choice. Not add that onehitting mobs level 20-80 might not be fun for everybody.

- The transition revamped-classic -> TBC content was incomprehensible for a new player.

The professions were 90% useless for the entire leveling game.

...

And that's just the obvious. If Blizzard had tried to attract new players with Cata ....
 
MMO's will continue their decline till they are a shadow of their 'glory days'. There are two reasons for this. The first is our attention spans have been getting shorter and we demand more instant gratification. Think drug addicts here.

The second reason is the fracturing of the market. I don't mean by space vs sword type but hardcore, casual, hard, easy, good, bad etc. Again this happened in movies, books, tv shows music etc.

You can look back and see this with many things including solo computer games. Long gone are the days where you spent a year playing the same solo computer game.
 
It is as I foretold...

But anyway, WoW burnout or first MMO burnout doesn't really happen because you are bored with the content, or warlocks got nerfed last patch. Your tolerance for these things goes down as you burnout. And once burnt, for the vast majority of people, even if they try to find other MMOs to fall in love with, they don't find it. I realize there are exceptions to this rule (looking at you Bhagpuss) but these people are pretty rare even in the MMO world.

That's ultimately Keen's problem. He wants to be in love again, but he's never going to find it. Even WoW has serious serious problems. If you somehow wiped all memory of WoW from people's minds while keeping the attitude and expectations the same and then rereleased WoW, I think people would be complaining about how boring the quests are, how PVP is a useless grind, how you don't have to talk to anyone or make any friends, and how the end game is just going on the same raids again and again and then in 18 months all the work you put in will be wiped out... it's not like WoW doesn't have a lot of severe problems.


Once you see through the carrot and stick routine (which is another way of saying you are burnt out), you can't help but treat MMOs like any other video game. The reward in playing them is the fun of it. Few video games are fun for 10-30 hours a week for years. And by god, MMOs are not designed to be fun. In what other genre of game would people permit being forced to do one hour of work so they could afford one hour of fun? In what other genre would they tolerate being expected to attend 3-4 hour long raids even when you don't want to? In what other genre would people be expected to do the same 6 kill/fetch quests for years with minor changes in a fundamentally boring and repetitive story?

People like to complain about a lack of innovation in the MMO genre, but as far as I can tell this is about it. Any game the deviates from this in any ways is a very niche game that wishes they were as successful as all the MMOS that have crashed and burned over the years.

WoW will be the gaming fad of the 00s. MMO's will decay back to their natural position in the video gaming pecking order as this process continues. Titan will probably be very successful by industry standards, but it will never achieve the heights that WoW did. Not unless it is some wildly innovative stuff.
 
I played SWG from August of 2003 through November of 2005.

I played EQ2 from November of 2005 through February of 2011.

I played EVE from March of 2008 through August of 2011.

I played Rift from March of 2011 until December of 2011.

I've dabbled in a few others, generally for just the free month, if that long.

Currently my only MMO is SWTOR. Began December 2011. Still enjoying it, so don't know when I'll stop, but I doubt it'll be more than 6-9 months.
 
I played AC1 for 4 years, WoW for almost 7.

I played all sorts of others for 3-9 months during that time.

My ideal hasn't changed.. what I want is a 'home' MMO, a game I'll stick with for another 3-5 years, while still trying other the things that come out.

The familiar fall-back that has long-term goals, the perfect guild I took the time to find because I love the game, and endless things I want to come back and do with my character (bosses to down, new talents to acquire, things to collect, places to explore).

One of the TSW devs was talking about endings in MMOs and I thought what he said was interesting. First that he thought the industry was not ready for a full ending, but could be in the future. Second, to get around that, in TSW they are putting in a 'conclusion' for the first release.. not going to be done for good, but some sort of feeling you've succeeded , ready to embark on the next expansion/major patch with a continuing story.

I think that sense of completion is a nice addition. Certainly I got that in WoW from completing all raid content, but not in the sense I'd completed the major story of the game by killing that last boss.

That type of thing might increase my time in multiple MMOs.. wanting to finish the whole story before moving on.
 
You missed the point, Tobold, by saying right off the bat that I go through the cycle faster than anyone else.

I'm going through it at the same speed as anyone else trying each new game releasing. You yourself have stopped playing SWTOR, right?

My point was that I am not doing anything different from the rest of the crowd who are unable to find a game they enjoy. The reasons for that are numerous, one being all the games being made are essentially the same thing.
 
I will play an MMO for as long as it is fun which seems to be about 3 months to seven years.
 
You missed the point, Tobold, by saying right off the bat that I go through the cycle faster than anyone else.

Reread what I wrote! I said you have a reputation for that. That is not the same as saying you do. And even you can't deny your reputation, or do you?
 
Nils you can argue the opposite at least as persuasively:

Blizzard did not spend the majority of their development time on 1-60 content in order to appease existing players - that was for new players. Unless you somehow believe that 1-60 leveling was for all the LK80s, then the $ were spent on new player experience.

My guess is that most new-to-MMO players did not feel underpowered to heirlooms because they did not even know what heirlooms are.

I believe there were a number of Bliz comments about the number of ex-WoW players. So the ex-WOW market is large enough for WoW to target (advertising Norris?) It seem reasonable that it is cheaper to get someone to return than evangelize a new customer.

I think Azuriel is missing a sizable minority of MMO players. WHo btw I expect most would not see CS as the alternative. E.g: Tobold's
"playing alone together" post and the talk at GDC11
http://massively.joystiq.com/2011/03/07/gdc-2011-biowares-damion-schubert-on-designing-for-loners/
 
I disagree with keen, at least as it applies to hype and disappointment.

I don't get hyped for MMOs. It just isn't worth the energy for me. the weird ones, to me, are those that closely follow games that haven't even came out yet. Why? Looking at them doesn't make them come out sooner. The only possible outcome is you getting anxious for the release.

The normal thing is to just wait for the game to come out, don't rely on what the developers are saying, and try it out for yourself.

It also removes the disappointment element too when you aren't getting hyped. You can enjoy the game for however long it is enjoyable and then walk away from it without any regrets at all.
 
It's being reported that Blizzard is laying off 600: Gamasutra, Develop
 
When you break up you sometimes say,

"The problem is not you it's me"
when you are thinking...
*The problem really is you not me*

all the while the reality is
THE PROBLEM IS YOU NOT THEM.

By the way Tobold does that 6 weeks include your Beta time or just after you actually started paying?

And if it was just the paying time... who got cheated?

Denial is just a River in Egypt after all.
 
Man I hate to go here but since Keen popped up I have to.

Keen it IS you that is odd.

If you can't be amused by 10 Gigabytes of varied multimedia content. You have attention deficit issues and should seek counseling/medical treatment.

ESPECIALLY if you presume to say that you are in the normal end of the human population and by implication say everyone unlike you is not normal

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attention_deficit_hyperactivity_disorder#Signs_and_symptoms

This one might be spot on:
Be easily distracted, miss details, forget things, and frequently switch from one activity to another.
 
By the way Tobold does that 6 weeks include your Beta time or just after you actually started paying? And if it was just the paying time... who got cheated?

6 weeks paying time. And I never said anybody got cheated, you are making stuff up, as usual.
 
Someone said it best, I play until it's not fun. For Everquest that was about 6 years. WoW was 6.5 with a 6 month "quit" , but a friend sucked me and my wife back in and it's been about 3 months more now. I'm thinbking it's got about 3 more months before our final quit.

Planetside, played 3 months in beta, SWG free month, Rift 5 of the 6 months I wasn't playing WoW. But the lack of friends and inability to play alts made me quit.

I find that if my wife isn't playing along with me I can't seem to take it for long. MMOs are social and my main social friend is my wife, so if she's not playing with me there is no strong tie to the game and it becomes boring as fast as single player games become.
 
Since I commented on Keen's blog, I'll comment here as well. Specifically I want to address the question "What are your expectations how long you will play the upcoming MMORPGs of 2012?"

My answer is: Not at all. Like I didn't play any upcoming of MMORPG of 2011. Or 2010. Or any year before. The one MMO I do play already existed for four years by the time I subscribed, and I went into it with no play time expectations whatsoever beyond "until it's no longer fun".

Not everybody is breathlessly waiting for the next new game on the block to jump ship to.
 
My guess is that most new-to-MMO players did not feel underpowered to heirlooms because they did not even know what heirlooms are.

I'm sure they found out with level 10 when they got a message and the icon on the bar began to glow: "You can now enter battelgrounds". ...

Why did Blizzard remake the 1-60 content? I don't know. What I do know is that they abandoned this unfinished remake the second Cataclysm hit. I guess they re-thought their priorities and concluded that they need to be more profitable for the next investor's call. While at the same time scamming players with a 1-year Diablo III bet and hoping that Titan will be WoW reloaded.
 
Hi Tobold,

I've been visiting your blog once in awhile, but I have never commented before. I've been playing Final Fantasy XI since 2006 (usually logging in daily), but I don't really start playing a game with expectations of how long I will play it. I don't give that any thought when first starting a game, but somehow, slowly, the game just grew on me and I'm a little (or a lot..lol) attached to the character(s) that I've built up over the years that it's hard to stop playing. Also along the way, I made some friends to adventure with, who also still play. Since I have spent so much time in Final Fantasy XI, I haven't had much motivation to play any other games. I used to play World of Warcraft back in 2005 with a friend (raiding Molten Core! ><), but after the friend quit, I shortly did too. My expectation is that I will probably stick with XI, even though the game has many flaws, until subscriptions become too low and they shut the servers down (><). I hope that doesn't make me too weird!
 
Generally a mmorpg should be enjoyable/playable for at least 8 months to a year. If longer, you are likely dealing with something that is truly EPIC.

Today instead of being "mmorpg" most games are simply designed to be "mmo"--the focus being online and lots of subscribers ($$$ for somebody) and minus the real content.

The standard for me will always be games like Evercrack, Anarchy Online, and Pre-NGE SWG. In each of those examples you had to log on with an agenda. Your time had to be carefully scheduled and divided between questing, crafting, upgrading, farming, camping, raiding, trading, decorating, and leveling.

Contrastively, today the focus is on casual gaming. "MMO" style games aren't intended to be played for more than a few months when you think about it. You can play through all of the game's content in a month and even obtain the max level for your avatar. Crafting is dead for the most part which is a shame because it is the pinnacle of the player based economy and part of the framework for a fully immersive environment. I could go on forever but the last point I'll leave you with is this:

Most of the newer games today operate with manual twitch gameplay meaning you have to point the mouse and click each time you want to perform an individual action. With your hands no longer free to type in the chat window, group experiences are anything but social and in the end are honestly quite fleeting. Now obviously this doesn't apply to every game out there and certainly there are workarounds but this unfortunately is the trend that most games are leaning toward.
 
Most games today aren't intended to be played for more than three months. A lot of the newer ones require you to click for each action removing your ability to chat during fights and lack proper crafting systems which kills the heart of a player based economy.

The standard for me will always be pre-NGE Starwars Galaxies, Everquest, Anarchy Online, and like games. These games require players to log on with an agenda carefully dividing your time between crafting, trading, questing, raiding, leveling, upgrading, and socializing. Newer games have downsized versions of these tasks that can all be completed in fifteen to thirty minutes of gameplay appealing to "casual" gamers. Its mainly a marketing trend in gaming with subsequent campaigns aimed at what I call the "blinky-flashy" generation.
 
If you're primarily a social gamer, MMO can last as long as your friends play. For other gamers, MMO's last until you recognize the carrot on the stick for what it is, then none will hold your attention.

After getting burnt out on WoW (1st MMO) everything else is just more of the same. They may as well all be total conversion mods. I don't think any MMO has held my attention for a full month other then WoW.
 
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