Sunday, July 20, 2008

MMO's are not investments

Syp recently posted an article that made some interesting points. I do not really agree with him, but one thing he said really stood out to me.

"After all, from the player’s point of view, MMOs are a serious investment."

MMO's are entertainment, not an investment. You invest in something to get future returns. Since a MMO may go away or change, there may be no future return. Many MMO's are subscription based, so you pay X amount of money for a month. There are other payment options, but this is the heart of the subscription model.

That month of play should stand on its own and be fun. If it is not, why are you paying it? After that, the MMO company and I are even. They do not owe me anything beyond that, no returns. If I am still having fun I pay for another month and the cycle repeats. If they change the game in a way I do not like, I cancel my subscription. I have not lost anything. I had fun for the months I had played, which is all I expected.

Some players develop attachments to their characters and get quite upset when changes are made. Does this somehow take away all the fun you had and paid for in all the time prior? I know for me it doesn't, as I don't consider time spent an investment.

Others get attached to a game due to the social bonds made, which is perfectly understandable. Luckily, we have many options to keep up communications with these people over the Internet. There was a time when very few options existed. Social connections are really starting to transcend individual MMO's.

"You do the grind now to invest in a better character for the future, when you’ll need it."

I play the game for now, not the future. If the now is not fun, why would I bother with this form of entertainment? Thinking about a MMO as an investment is a recipe for disappointment. Take it for what it is, entertainment. If the time you are spending in the game is not fun for you, then it ceases to become entertainment. If the time you spent up was fun, then you got what you paid for.


I feel MMORPG's (and RPG's) are really about investing time to reach a goal, and then enjoying the rewards for reaching the goal.

That's really the primary "fun" mechanism of an RPG, in my mind. If you are just looking for something that's fun for a month or a few weeks I feel like there are better choices -- MMORPG's are made to be fairly entertaining over the course of months and years, while most normal games are meant to be extremely fun just for a week or two.

Well, if I buy a new MMO, I guess it's sort of a investment for my time. I want to reach the highest level, I want to experience as much as everything, and that require months and months of playing.

If I spend those months only to realise there is nothing to do at the highest level, then I would probably feel that my "investment of time" has been placed wrong.

Goals are indeed fun to accomplish. However, if the journey to reach that goal is not fun then that is where a problem develops.

I like accomplishing goals, but I will not spend time in a game doing something that I don't find fun. For instance, grinding rep in WoW. Sure there are things I want, but I am not willing to spend countless hours getting to exalted when it really is not fun.

I'm with Boat and Syp on this one mate.

MMO's are an investment. Not in a monetary sense of course, but in time and enjoyment.

Every minute spent playing an MMO is a minute not spent on other games. Every level you gain is a reflection of the time and effort you put in (unless you're a powerlevelled yahoo). Any accomplishment is again due to the time you have spent, as well as the paltry fee to play the game.

October will be four years in CoX for me. I'm still having fun, but it's been a big investment both time and money wise. The money is worth it because in the end I enjoyed my time.
It's still time I had to spend, and spend wisely lest I burnout or otherwise exhaust any fun potential.

If I give up City of Heroes, I am giving up not my money spent but the countless hours my characters and levels represent.

Money is the smallest factor. It is the time, emotion and connectiosn you make with a game and its players that is the true investment, and if you're a very lucky person, you'll make it in a game that lasts for years and returns just as much as it asks if not more.

Fun costs time.

@ardua: So if you leave CoX or it shuts down, will you think of the time as wasted? I would think not as it sounds like you have enjoyed it.

Blizzard could nerf my warrior into oblivion and I would not really care, as I had fun playing up until that point. I would cancel my account if it is no longer fun with no hard feelings.

I can keep in touch with the people I have met through any number of means. Games are just how I spend some of my leisure time. If I want to do things not fun for potential reward, there is always overtime at work :-/

Time wasted? No.

But most certainly time spent.

I wouldn't have all the bits and pieces I have in CoX nor the friends nor the options that I do if it wasn't for the investment of time.

On the topic of nerfs. If a class I enjoyed was nerfed, then I would try work around it or play a different class. If the game itself is nerfed or changed to the point where the original draw for me is gone, then there is a problem in that not only has someone else invalidated my time invested by radically altering my game/hobby/fun time but they have possibly denied me the option to continue playing by making it unpalatable.

Do I expect game devs to run all their changes past me? Not at all. However there is an obligation (to a certain point) on their part to make sure that they do not make our invested time and energy worthless.

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