I’m always thinking about why people quit MMOs — why I quit MMOs — and trying to discover a way to prevent it. A very simple notion came to mind: People need something to do. Even if a MMO is great, fun, and I can’t find a fault, if I run out of things to do then the game ends.
World of Warcraft is constantly placing the carrot just out of reach, constantly providing people things to do. When I would get a twinge of desire to play WoW, I think it’s because I craved something to do. When I played a month and got bored, I realize it’s because I did everything I wanted to do. There’s nothing inherently better about WoW, it’s just that I could rely on polished content.
I’ve said this before, but the reason I quit GW2 wasn’t because I didn’t like the game — I ran out of things to do. The reason some of my friends stopped playing UO is because they did everything they wanted, and ran out of things to do.
This leads me to conclude that a truly great MMO is capable of keeping people playing. You’re likely saying, “Duh, Keen” right about now. If it’s that easy, though, why do I feel like so many games these days lack the content or lack the depth to give that feeling of never running out of reasons for logging in? Because most are focused on revolving around a story. Stories are finite, and when they become the focal point they diminish gameplay. The rest focus on providing the wrong type of content that isn’t self-replicating, and instead of providing enough of it they forget that people don’t want to run the same instance for over a year.
Provide something. The right something.