Why MMO’s?

Image by Flickr User: JBLivin (cc) found yourself wondering what it would be like to actually live in the worlds of some of your favorite games?

I’ve been a console gamer for almost my entire experience with the medium, only venturing onto PC for the odd RPG or Steam deal. I also played Runescape for all of 3 months before dropping it in favor of jumping onto the Xbox 360 to join the Halo bandwagon. So, I admittedly have very little experience with MMORPGs. I’ve always thought about fixing that and trying to go back on and try one since so many other gamers out there seem to enjoy them.  However something stops me every time before I get too far with that thought, a notion that I simply cannot ignore: They just don’t sound very fun!

I recognize that they do possess some kind of  kind of mass appeal, otherwise World of Warcraft would be the online juggernaut that it is today, and every major studio wouldn’t have tried to get a piece of that pie instead of making a proper sequel to an awesome franchise (okay, I might be thinking of one studio in particular there). I just have not been able to put my finger on exactly why so many find them so compelling, at least in terms of the gameplay that’s offered.

The biggest selling point has to be the idea of getting to share the same world with thousands and thousands of other people, and indeed the thought of cooperating with groups ranging in size from 2 other people to raiding parties of 50 or more sounds pretty cool. The thing is though, all that doesn’t really come about unless people are interested in the game itself, which, if the internet is to be believed often boils down to and endless cycle of repetitive tasks/fights to either level up and/or continually get slightly better equipment with which to continue said tasks but only faster or against slightly tougher enemies. (Woohoo?) So why buy the game in the first place? Is it more for the promise of cooperating with other players than the gameplay or is that genuinely fun?

The only conclusion I’ve been able to come to is that it is only for the social aspects, if that wasn’t the case, I can’t help but think that World of Warcraft, the game everyone is already on, wouldn’t have been able to maintain its death grip on the genre as newer games with newer gameplay were released over the years. If that’s the case though, is there even anywhere for MMO’s to go from here? If World of Warcraft is the be all end all, how will the genre see any further innovation, and is it really worth sticking around for something that’ll likely remain stagnant for a few years yet?

I’m used to games that are always building to some sort of end. That’s the point of them, to enjoy a journey through a story or series of challenges with the ultimate goal of completing it. Looking in from the outside, MMO’s are the complete opposite. They’re made to be endless, to always have something to do, and I suppose that’s what mystifies me the most. How can anything be considered accomplished if there is no end? How can it have any point? Why start the trek if there’s no where to go?

…Maybe I just don’t get it. 🙂

In all seriousness though, if you’re an MMO fan, please share your experience! I’m asking just for the heck of it!

Or, if you’ve never really got into them either, what was your reasoning?

8 Comments Add yours

  1. fminuzzi says:

    I think I’m somewhere in between. I play MMOs for a small amount of time, then get bored, but I still enjoy the initial experience (the only downside being having to buy a copy of the game if it’s not cheap). I played 2-3 months each for WoW, Dofus and FF14, and enjoyed the experience, but the end-game (and even just late-game) grind can be a bit boring. Maybe I’m just trained to enjoy things more when my level is going up =P For all of those, I stayed as long as I did because I had a group of friends to play with, but even that wasn’t enough to stay for as long as some of them did.

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    1. Hatm0nster says:

      The thought of having expansive wolds to play around in is definitely an attractive attribute these games share. In the games you played, was there much exploration to be had before it all started feeling same-y or did it last for awhile?

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      1. fminuzzi says:

        Hm, I think there’s a decent amount of exploration (of the world, but also learning about the classes, the game’s system, etc), usually the first month or so for me. The next month or two are carried by trying to get better as a team with friends. Then the ‘grind X to continue’ starts draining at your soul.

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      2. Hatm0nster says:

        Hmm…it sounds like you really need to have a large group of people to play these sorts of games with if you want to get much out of them. I wonder if there’s a way to move past that formula…

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  2. duckofindeed says:

    I completely agree. I can’t get into a game that will never end. It’s just way too overwhelming. No matter how great the game, I want there to be a goal and for it to end eventually once I reach that goal.

    I tried Runescape once. I didn’t understand it. What am I working towards?! What am I trying to accomplish here?! I just don’t know!

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    1. Hatm0nster says:

      The journey is pointless without a conclusion right? There’s nothing to be accomplished if there’s nothing to work towards.

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  3. cary says:

    When I first heard about WoW, I thought that you HAD to have a team to play. With that misconception in mind, I figured that all MMOs were the same way, so I just ignored them. Come to find out years later that that’s far from the case. I wouldn’t mind trying my hand at one eventually, but the required time investment is a little intimidating.

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    1. Hatm0nster says:

      MMO’s definitely aren’t for those who don’t time to burn, that’s for sure. Also, games like WoW always seem to require team play in the end anyway don’t they? Those massive damage-sponge enemies aren’t known for being easily (or even possibly )brought down by a single player.

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