As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, there’s something about EverQuest that I find irresistible. I love many of the mechanics, and you all know I’m a fan of group-play, difficulty, and social gameplay. I started to think harder, and during a discussion with some friends one key component was brought up: EverQuest is an investment. The more time I spend, the more I see my character transform, and my abilities grow. EQ is slow and almost methodical at times. Nothing happens overnight. I thought about it this for a while, and realized I love building something up over time, and that this feeling isn’t limited to EverQuest. I love putting in effort and seeing results. I love watching the payoff after weeks, months, years of effort. That’s why it’s an investment!
I think back on all the MMOs I’ve played these past five years, and almost every single new release hasn’t yielded a return on my investment. For example, in GW2 I was able to burn through all of the content, max out a character, etc., etc. While I played something like 250 hours and monetarily felt entirely satisfied ($60 for 250 hours of enjoyment is well worth it), I never felt like the game required any significant investment from me. As a result, I never felt like I was able to get anything out of the game in return. Quitting was easy, I was unattached, and I wasn’t leaving any part of me behind when I left. This lack of investment has been present in many games for me, and I believe it’s directly related to why I can never seem to get hooked.
Dark Age of Camelot’s RvR was a huge investment; I wanted those higher RAs and I loved fighting to get them. In SWG the drive to invest my time into becoming a billionaire and renown crafter — the best crafter — pushed me to keep bettering my character and investing myself into each day I played. In UOForever I currently have one of the best vendors on the server. Even if I wanted to stop playing I wouldn’t let myself because I have invested too much to get this far. It’s like a weird addiction formula or something.
Bottom line, I feel like a game has to really hook me somehow into investing mental energy, time, emotion, care — and like any good investment I have to see a return on all of that. It can’t all be done quickly either, because no matter how good a game is there just isn’t any sort of meaningful investment for me if I know I’m done in a couple of weeks. I want to know the MMO I’m getting into has a really, really high level of involvement.