I have played my fair share of MMOs. Whether it was a dabble in Age of Wushu, the moderate amount of time I played the Old Republic and Lord of the Rings Online, or the years I spent on World of Warcraft. While I don’t regret any of the copious amount of time I spent on them, I have come to one irrefutable fact; MMOs are for children.
Massive Multiplayer Online games have become very popular recently and there are different ones in almost every genre from fantasy to martial arts and every mix thereof. The few main things that they all seem to share is some kind of free trial and paid subscription, advancement relies on time spent in-game, and need of groups of players to complete the best/hardest content. All of these things point towards a younger demographic.
Most MMOs now say they are “free to play” but it is more like “free to play until level 20 or so.” Once you reach that point they either kick you off until you buy a subscription or force you to buy “quest packs” to give you the quests for a range of levels like level 20 to level 30. I think that this is a clear ploy to get gamers addicted to the game and coerce them to pay to keep playing. I can honestly say that MMOs have been some of the most addicting games I have played and are by far the games that envelop the gamer in their respective universes the most. Because of this, once the gamer gets a taste (such as from a free trial) the $15 a month, or whatever the charge, doesn’t seem like anything anymore.
For better items, gear, weapons, etc. in MMOs usually dungeons or raids are involved. In order to play through them, the gamer has to grab gamer buddies, or stranger, and cooperate to defeat the respective bosses. While forcing group play may not seem like a big deal, it gives advantage to less skillful players. Instead of relying on your individual skill to complete parts of the game, like every other genre of video game, you rely on the average level of the group. This means that a terrible player can get the same loot and experience that the great players paving the way are getting. Children can get far in MMOs on nothing more but their time and riding on others’ coattails.
The fact that time is the main advancement tool in all MMOs is the biggest problem. I don’t care how skilled you are or what specific MMO you are playing, if you only have an hour a day to play you will never be at the same level as a bad player who has 6+ hours a day to devote to it. It just can’t be done. Children who have an internet connection and all the time on the world outnumber and outgear us mostly responsible, job holding, adult gamers. The fact that you are basically paying for time to play an MMO reinforces the fact that the more time you spend in the game the better off you will be ingame. This opposed to almost every other genre of video game where skill alone determines how far into the game you will get.
The gameplay of MMOs usually do not even call for any amount of skill to advance your character. Most have the same kind of quests like “kill this many enemies” or “collect this many pink flowers.” It really is just time consuming, but the ease can make it addicting when playing because you lose track of the amount of time you are spending on all these little quests. Children with nothing occupying their days can breeze through these while everyone has to crawl through them.
I remember spending more time than I’m willing to admit plugging away saving some lady’s kittens or collecting bear hearts when I did not have responsibilities to weigh me down. I always found MMOs fun and I miss my characters every now and then, but I am much better spending my time beating a game in a reasonable amount of time because I am good at it than raid endlessly in distant lands. It is better to leave MMOs to the children.