I've been playing MMORGs pretty much since I can remember. In that time, I've really tried many genre representatives, from free-to-play offshoots like Nostale, Flyff, Fiesta, Tera, to the big names like World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy 14, Guild Wars 2, and you name it. Each time, I was captivated by exploring a new world, figuring out the game's combat system, acquiring numerous collectibles, and most importantly, interacting with other people. For some time now, however, hardly any MMO manages to win me over for a longer period of time.

I myself, like many others I'm sure, am quite a competitive player. Since I don't want to lag behind others, I naturally try to make my playtime as efficient as possible. For example, I have my own checklist for Smilegate's Lost Ark, where I check off all the things for my characters. Every day I run chaos dungeons, guardian raids, and do other activities such as area bosses, chaos portals, and the various islands with five characters. Sure, I don't have to do all of that, but the goal in mind is eventually to have all characters in the third content tier to allow for relaxed play.

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Table of ContentsPage

1. MMO dilemma: Facilitation replaces game enjoymentNext page1.1. Facilitation as a game mechanic1.2. Different MMO, same problem1.3. How long does an MMORPG need to be played?Page 2 MMO dilemma: Nomadism instead of home2.1. From social experience to single-player adventure2.2. Infinite content is often pretty boring2.3. "MMORPG hopping" as the new normPage3. Image gallery for "What actually happened to the MMORPG genre?"

Facilitation as a game mechanic

Here's the rub. I do these things to finally have "real" fun with the game. When I reach my goal, I don't rejoice, instead a sense of relief sets in. "I'm finally done with this." The MMORPG genre has been capitalizing on that sense of relief more and more lately. My point here is not that games, especially MMORPGs, need a bunch of grind. I have no problem working for a goal. For example, in World of Warcraft, I've earned the Blood Sail Admiral title a full two times. The second time happened on a rogue because I wanted to complete the madman achievement at the same time. Also, for example, I have achieved the Angel Meta achievement The Terror of the Seas and capture every single pet to each new expansion, so of course I also own the Zoo Director title.

It is not necessary to own these titles. It doesn't give you any advantage in the game or anything like that. However, when I was finally able to call these my own after days or weeks of farming, I was insanely happy. I was especially happy about my achievement, even though these things are actually completely useless.

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I can't say the same for playing a second or third character in World of Warcraft (buy now ). I have already completed the campaign on my main, farmed all the mediums, and joined the best pact. To try a different specialization, or even play a different class, I have to complete many of these things again. Here, I'm not happy when I finally do it, instead I'm relieved because I can finally play the real game.

Different MMO, same problem

I now experience the same phenomenon with pretty much every current MMORPG. For example, I wasn't happy to finally reach item level 1370 in Lost Ark after several weeks of work. Instead, I was relieved to finally be able to enter the Argos raid. Also, playing different alts gives me the same feeling. For example, if I have reached item level 600, I have to quest through Yorn again to unlock the new content. It is simply work that I have to do before I can "continue" playing the game.

Similarly, Amazon's MMORPG New World was simply a matter of reaching level 60 to unlock all of the game's content. I wasn't happy to reach a new level, just relieved that the road wasn't too long. I felt the same way about mining resources and crafting items. "When am I going to be done with this and be able to do more fun things?" Without the various professions, you have a pretty hard life in Amazon's new MMO, but actually leveling up the professions is just tedious. At the latest when I noticed that New World is only built on filling up different bars to trigger feelings of happiness, my gaming fun was over.

Even though the story from Final Fantasy 14 is pretty well done, I was a bit put off by the sheer length. Source: Square Enix Final Fantasy 14 is no different for me personally. Many players enjoy the title's storyline, which is probably extraordinarily good, but when I started playing it at the release of Endwalker, I just wanted to experience the various end-game content with a few friends. For this, however, I first had to play through hundreds of hours of story. Sure, I was often riveted and wanted to know what would happen next, but in the back of my mind I was always hoping to finish soon so I could experience the more fun content of the MMO.

How long does an MMORPG need to be played?

When it comes to MMORPGs, you often hear many players say something like, "After the first 100 hours, it gets pretty good." Of course, these players are talking about the endgame of the respective title, since the level phase often offers less content and you don't have access to all the abilities of the respective class. But do new players really want to invest 100 hours in a game before it gets really good? Why not put the good aspects of a game right at the beginning? While a new player would certainly be overwhelmed if they already had 30 different abilities on the first level, Final Fantasy 14, for example, often has phases where you don't get any new abilities for several hours, even though you haven't even gotten to the first expansion, Heavensward.

Level phases have never really appealed to me. Especially in World of Warcraft, which increases its level cap with each new expansion, the new levels to reach have always been a horror. You have to reach these levels to play end-game activities like Mythic+, but it's not really fun. This is where I think Guild Wars 2 does it much more cleverly, as ArenaNet hasn't raised the level cap once so far, despite releasing three expansions by now.

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