We talk a lot about end-game in the MMO industry. Â We talk about making enough content, making it sufficiently rewarding, etc. Â What we don’t talk about is perhaps one of the biggest reasons I used to play MMORPGs for a much longer period of time.
I want something to work towards. Â I like knowing that there’s something still out of my reach. Â That’s why I’m okay with the idea that only a small percentage of people (1%) will ever see end-game content. Â What I’m not okay with are the reasons why people never end up seeing the content.
Getting to the beginning of the end-game is too easy in today’s MMOs. Â I can get max level in WoW, FFIXV, and just about any other game in a couple of weeks. Â I’m ready to begin the end-game, and I’m faced with one of two realities: (1) I want to participate but I can’t, or (2) I can participate. Â If you can’t participate you become frustrated, and if you can participate you might even run out of things to do. Â The problem here really isn’t with either of the realities — it’s with how you got to the point of facing them.
I think it should take months, even a year to get max level. Â I think the journey to get to the point where you’re faced with the reality if hitting a wall has to be so long that only 1% of the people even think about it. Â I’m not saying it has to be hard, punishing, or any of that. Â I just think the journey ends too quickly.
I look back at the original EverQuest and I see a game that took me 6 months to solo level a Necromancer to level 50. Â I played almost every day, and I had a lot of fun. Â I actually hit level 50 a few weeks before Kunark (expansion) launched. In that period before Kunark I was able to do a few of the raids (hard dungeons, really). Â When Kunark launched I was once again at a place where the “end-game” was another 3+ months out.
There were months and months of fun to be had on the way toward the end. Â I was always working towards becoming better, but I wasn’t doing it so that I could get to the end and face the reality of either not being able to do content or running out of it. Â If I never once saw the hardest dungeons it didn’t matter to me because the experience on the way was just as fulfilling as anything in the end.
I believe that when someone reaches the end-game they should never be faced with wanting yet being unable to participate. Â This artificial barrier exists to make modern MMO end-game feel out of reach. Â How silly is that? Â Most people make it to the max level but only 1% see the content. Â It should be that 1% reach the max level and all of them can see the content.
Making the journey matter more fixes a huge part of the problem.