Quit Wall

I coined the phrase ‘Quit Wall’ in a WildStar post I wrote the other day, and thought I would elaborate a bit on what they are and maybe how they can be avoided.

What is a Quit Wall?

A Quit Wall can be any of the following. I’ve added a quick example in parenthesis after each.

  • A point where players feel like they are halted and unable to progress (Don’t have a large enough group to participate)
  • When the game radically changes from one style of play to another (Questing from 1-50 then having to raid in end-game)
  • A natural breaking point in the game where players feel like they have nothing to do (Ran out of quests and content)
  • Drastic changes in difficulty (This one seems obvious)

Recent Examples of Quit Walls

Destiny – Graev wrote yesterday about Destiny and included a very clear explanation of the quit wall. When players reach level 20 the only way to progress is to grind tokens to purchase gear. This has to be done in the form of dailies in order to get to level 26 and participate in the “end-game” content. This isn’t how 1-19 was played, and radically changes the game. If you don’t want to grind, you can quit.

WildStar – This Quit Wall was so obvious it caused me to stop playing before I reached level 30. The end-game of WildStar is all about “hardcore” raiding. When you level from 1-50 you do nothing but quest grind solo. When you reach level 50 you have to form large groups of players and do raids. If you don’t have the numbers, or (before it changed) didn’t want to work your butt off you get attuned, you had to quit.

World of Warcraft – The huge gap in content before WoD releases can easily be looked at as a Quit Wall. It’s like a huge wall in front of players and unless you want to climb that wall and overcome the lack of things to do you can quit or … I guess you’re a masochist at that point.

How to Avoid Quit Walls 

Themeparks are more prone to Quit Walls than sandboxes, but even a sandbox can have a point where you have to climb some wall the devs have put up or quit. The point for developers here is that players do not want to feel like something has suddenly popped up in front of them halting their ability to continue enjoying your game.

Create a consistent experience designed from the beginning. The very idea of ‘end-game’ lends itself to creating Quit Walls. Avoid having an ‘end-game’ and have the entire game circle around itself and create a virtual world wherein players are constantly progressing and the world is constantly fueling their ability to play the way in which they have always played.

Sometimes certain Quit Walls are unavoidable. Even some of my favorite games have had them. When you reach a point where you feel like you’ve done everything… that’s a Quit Wall — albeit a less intrusive one.  Combat those Quit Walls with constant development. That’s why I’m okay with paying a subscription to a game that continues to expand and grow. I can’t perceive that wall — I don’t want to.

And finally, avoid designing a 3 monther. 3 Monthers are 3 Monthers because of Quit Walls.

  • Quit Wall for WoW to me as always been large gaps in content. Though I always come back eventually with the new expansion. Guild Wars 2 I keep coming back to, but with the latest changes with gated content really upset me, even though all my characters are past the majority of content gating. As always I love K&G MMO coined terms. 😉

  • Interestingly enough, WoW has many Quit Walls.

    (1) Gaps in content
    (2) The fact that 1-max you quest grind solo then have to choosing raiding or pvp
    (3) Getting gear to get gear
    (4) Forcing players to form large groups of organized players to raid

  • @Keen I’m getting really tired of solving (or at the least bit delaying them indefinitely) with the same damn concept. Small scale endgame, standard party sized groups with raid esque content. Said it a million times, now when will developers catch on?

    Why would you design a game centered around content that less than 10% of your playerbase will ever see fully? (Raiding) seems so futile. Also seems like natural progression (as a developer) to then find ways to fix that problem, by removing barriers.
    In raiding’s case, requiring large amounts of people on simultaneously, set times, and time consuming, not to mention the recruitment process.

    So you remove these “barriers” by
    A) making the content require 5 or 6 people (standard group size)

    B) Because they’re small scale you can make multiple instances rather than 1 raid. This way if you get locked to one, you move to the next one.

    C) Make them reset twice a week rather than once, giving people more time/flexibility to do them and not require set “raid” times.

    Keen, just lie to me and tell me some MMO coming out soon will finally grasp this and release it, so I can finally pick an MMO and stick with it.

  • @Keen I just want to comment on your list of WoW Quit Walls since I feel some elaboration of what Blizzard does or has done about them might be interesting for discussion:

    (1) Gaps in content – I’m not really convinced that this is a Quit Wall, but at the same time, it also seems like a non-issue to me: if lack of content is your problem, then you quit until a new patch and then resub to check it out. From what I hear, a lot of people do this, and Blizzard is actually perfectly fine with subscriber churn. Of course, Blizzard has been trying (for years now) to get better at delivering content faster, so they’re aware of the problem – they just haven’t succeeded yet.

    (2) The fact that 1-max you quest grind solo then have to choosing raiding or pvp – Actually, you don’t have to choose to raid or pvp, this is what they mean by casual endgame options. Of course, you personally may not want to do things like pet battle or mount collect or soloing old content or just 5-mans, but the option is there.

    (3) Getting gear to get gear – Is this really a Quit Wall? I mean, you call it a gear treadmill, but presumably there’s a start point in endgame gear you can get to begin progressing in content. Of course, if the gear grind is really bad then you could have a Quit Wall, but then WoW in particular is also known for its gear catchup mechanisms (and consequent content trivialization).

    (4) Forcing players to form large groups of organized players to raid – Well, first we’ll assume that your endgame consists of raiding, which I said up above may not necessarily be the case, and also that you consider LFR, which was designed in part to get around this organization requirement, not raiding, then even so at that point to start raiding in WoW you only need ten people who, if not at the highest level of raiding, can come from different realms. Of course, getting ten people still might be a dealbreaker, but it’s much easier than forty people.

  • Solid post Keen. I think it should also be pointed out, you can have similar content aimed at different levels of players.

    For instance, with player housing, something I love, I can want to participate but don’t have the time or will to grind all the resources for a huge house. So, make something attainable, ie a small house, for the less hardcore, and reward the hardcore with bigger and better houses. Seems simple enough.

    This does not work great for all content, for instance I think “heroic” versions of dungeons aren’t all that compelling. Maybe, have the “heroic” dungeon have another wing, or special fights. That would make it more compelling for those running “heroics” but also include the more casual player.

  • In regards to your Destiny example when you say that the game changes at level 20 and “If you don’t want to grind, you can quit.” What ever happened to playing games just for the pure enjoyment of playing games? When I’m playing Destiny I enjoy running through the various environments shooting things with my friends or battling others in PvP. If I happen to get rewarded with new pieces of gear or new areas to explore as I advance that’s an added plus but definitely not my sole motivation for playing.

  • In Wizardry Online the quit wall would be the boss for Temple of Oblivion, where really they only way to pass it is by bringing someone (who happens to be a trap thief) ten-twenty levels higher than you (and you still all have to -run- past the overpowered mobs on the way there). Other players simply cannot fight death (he’s the boss). 😛

    Really though I prefer quit walls being at the start before any time investment goes in. Like ArcheAge – I read somewhere that “you cannot avoid PvP”. That’s cool, it means I’ll never play the game. Finished! 🙂

  • @Prairie McChicken: In the end there’s no accounting for taste. Some people will love something that most see as a reason to quit. Mechanically, objectively, the design of a game can be observed and commented on separately from one’s enjoyment. Graev recently did such a thing with Destiny. Destiny is a game he still plays and enjoys, but finds so many of the mechanics frustrating and possible reasons to stop playing.

    @Ming: Quit walls won’t be universal reasons for people to quit, but they are mechanically something I think is observable across the board. Like I just explained to Prairie McChicken, some people will actually enjoy what others see as a reason to quit. Some people love grinding non-stop to earn tokens. Mechanically, that’s a quit wall because it creates the choice: Once you reach the point of grinding for tokens or gear (not what the prior part of the game was about) you can quit or do it.

  • Interestingly enough, I find Quit Walls often come and go, especially in really good sandbox/open-world games. What usually happens, for example, in something like Minecraft or Skyrim, I’ll dedicate hours per week (or…day) to playing it and then my interest will fizzle out. I’ll put the game away for awhile, only to stumble upon it months later. Suddenly, the Quit Wall is gone, I reset my game, and my interest is peaked all over again.

  • The wall won’t go away, it will always be there in some form just looming in wait for you to reach it. The magic happens when the content creators mask this wall by having enough content available so that as soon as you see the wall in sight, as soon as you’re just about to reach it, they drop a big load of new content in front of you again, which pushes that wall further and further out of grasp. Of all the mmorpgs I’ve played WoW more so than not has done a good job at pushing that carrot further away just at the right times. They did however drop the ball in this LONG drawn out stint before WoD, but at the same time it could be a good strategy.

    The people that reach these walls can only do it so long until they get burnt out. This is the reason why I come back to WoW again and again. I’ll play the new content, hit the wall when I beat the raiding content because I enjoy the end game raiding, quit for a bit (I consider it a nice break to catch up on other games or other things in general), then come back when new content comes out and it’s a nice revitalization. I don’t mind it much because I know what I’m getting from a quality stand point. This is a unique situation however because Blizzard makes a quality product that you can for the most part trust. Try doing this same scenario with almost ANY other IP new or old and the outcome will probably be alot different.

    The thing most games get wrong is the pacing of the content. Which is basically a pacing of quit walls. If they can’t keep that wall moving further away from the player then the player will hit it, get KO’d by the wall, and be done.

  • How about continuous state of leveling monotony not being worth decent end game content? Like ESO or archeage.

  • The current queues on all the servers on the new mmo Archeage.
    Now that is a quit wall.

    I have only downloaded the client, but I will wait for new servers and things to cool down, before I give the game a try.
    Imagen if you payed for this LOL. I mean poor people….

  • From what I have read in the forum you only wait half as long.
    That is not god enough when there are queues of up to 5 hours.
    That and I’ve heard people all of a sudden losing patron status.

    Not to mention that f2p players are part of the experience of paid users.

    Have you played since release Keen? I am somewhat expecting a blog post soon ^^

  • No, as I’ve said I’m really turned off by the themepark quest grind from 1-50. I just don’t have the time to play something that wouldn’t be fun for me.

  • I really liked this article. I’ve hit the quit wall a few times. Usually when all that was left was running the same raid over and over for gear. For me it seems to be when my character stops levelling and all that is left is endless gear grinds.

    A large horizontal gaining of abilities could/would keep me playing a lot longer if a game ever institutes one properly.

  • This is an entirely fabricated condition manifested by players, It’s not the game. Stop blaming game designs and play them the way they are intended.