MMO commitment discussion

There’s a bit of a theme developing in the blogosphere over commitment to MMOs.

Spinks posted about “solving the content problem” asking about where long-term commitment to MMOs has gone:

The oldschool guild/community which does emphasise commitment to a game, and the newer social group which assumes that most players will not settle in a game for more than  few months at most.

Massively has an opinion piece about wanderlust among MMO players and the commitment factor:

Getting immersed doesn’t make you commit; being committed is key to finding immersion.

In a sense this gets to the heart of why I’m busy writing a series of posts about how to choose between MMOs. Quite simply I find it too hard to settle on one game anymore. I disagree that simply being more ‘committed’ is the answer though. There are good and bad things about all the MMOs I play, sadly no one game offers the majority of what I suspect I’m looking for. I could just settle back with WoW as the game I’ve been committed to the longest but then where is the housing and where is even a vague sign that Blizzard wants to get people back into the open world and not stuck chain-queueing LFD/R? Equally I could get on with leveling my full stable of alts in LOTRO but then the combat is so lacklustre in that game.

I think this current debate is a continuation or an intensification of the problem. The more MMOs that are released the harder it becomes to remain ‘committed’ in this way unless you are willing to ignore the flaws of a game and ignore the potential benefits of the newcomer.

Keen takes a different angle today, looking at MMO reward programmes as a way to encourage a longer-term commitment from players.

I’m a fan of loyalty programs.  They give players something extra, and decrease buyer power (make it harder to switch to another game).

Personally I’m ambivalent to such schemes. No amount of discounts or free in-game items will keep me playing if the game has too many flaws.

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2 Responses to MMO commitment discussion

  1. pkudude99 says:

    My 1st MMO was SWG, and I loved playing it, but not becuz I liked the game itself. Rather, I liked it because I played it with a large group of co-workers, so in our “PA” chat we could all talk about work or whatever and at work we used our internal chat program to create a big group chat session each day and we’d use that to talk about what we’d done in-game the night before and to make plans for what we wanted to do that night, etc.

    TL;DR — I loved playing it with friends, and not just any friends but IRL friends that I saw and talked to each day.

    I had an alt. SWG forced you to be social — you got untreatable wounds to your mind pool and you gained “battle fatigue” that penalized your stats, and the only way to heal that was to hit a cantina for 5-10 minutes every few hours. And since everyone had to hit a cantina at some point, they always had plenty of people in them. I was healing some BF, got to talking to the dancer, she asked me to come dance with her, so I popped outside to the trainer, spent the points, came back in and started dancing. The next day for grins I went dancing in full combat armor in a different cantina, which drew a crowd and a lot of comments and 2 days later I was part of a brand-spanking new social guild as member #6.

    Our guild events were parties: dance-a-thons and performances, “duel-a-dancer” contests, fireworks shows, etc. We got popular enough that the Community Manager hisownself would fly in on an Imperial Shuttle and hand out goodies for a half hour, then walk back into his shuttle and fly out at nearly every event. 1st time I ever saw a jedi was at one of those events where duel-a-dancer morphed into “duel-anyone-you-want” and a BH issued a challenge, some guy accepted, they got on stage and into position, the signal was given to start and . . . out came the lightsaber which teleported him outside since it was a neutral cantina and by popping the lightsaber he’d flagged and was ejected. So of course EVERYONE ran outside, and the Bh did too. They finished their duel and then the (easily) victorious Jedi jumped on his speeder and lit outta there in a hurry.

    Fun times! Even though I didn’t know anyone in that PA IRL, it was still a ton of fun — not becuz of the game, but becuz of the social options. And I actually did end up meeting a few of the people in that guild IRL and consider them to be close friends to this day.

    I quit SWG becuz the friends eventually drifted out. I hung around longer than most, but eventually ended up leaving. When I did, I started EQ2 … which I played with the same IRL friends and a few members of that social guild I mentioned. And that’s what kept me in EQ2 for 6 years — we all played together and even after the game lost its luster for us, we still played since it was a chance to “hang out with friends” without having to leave the house each night.

    Sorry for the wall of text. I could go longer about Eve and Rift too, but I think my point is now made — it’s not the game that makes me stay, it’s the community, and I’ve not seen any game since SWG that fostered community like it did. Social tools seem like an afterthought, if a thought at all, in every game I’ve played since, and several games haven’t even really had guild tools implemented at launch and their players cried out for them immediately.

    So anyway, that’s my 2 isk, gil, copper, or whatever currency we’re using today.

    • Telwyn says:

      I tried SWG but somehow it didn’t click. I don’t think I had the free time then due to work hours so it seemed like crafting was another job in the making.

      In any case yep, I’m sure it was awesome and community is a big factor – but then we can’t easily chose a community – finding one to match your needs is a pretty laborious task actually. But even the best community for me won’t keep me in game if I’ve grown bored of the gameplay or the game’s content. The close community (guild + friends) in WoW kept me for years but I wouldn’t say I was ever that happy with the game’s combat or character customisation.

      Rift has great customisation and good combat but I haven’t found the right community for me.

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