Massively Opinionated: Which MMO is the stickiest?

Unlike single-player games, MMO need a built-in reason for people to keep coming back, or better yet, stick around forever and ever. Some MMOs clearly have better staying power than others. Our panelists debate this week what makes MMOs the most sticky and which MMOs have done it the best.

The rules are simple: Our arbitrator, Larry Everett, gives our panelists four questions to answer. The panelists argue each question, and whoever has the best argument wins a point. At the end of the show, whoever has the most points wins.

The panelists this week are all champions from previous Massively Opinionated debates. From right here on MassivelyOP, Tina Lauro joins us. From his YouTube channel, it’s The Cosmic Engine. And an editor at MMO Bomb, Jason Winter, has again graced us with his presence. Check out the full debate show below.

Our panelists this week

Larry Everett
Twitter: Shaddoe
Blog: Hyperspace Beacon

Cosmic Engine
Twitter: CosmicEngine99
YouTube: The Cosmic Engine

Tina Lauro
Twitter: PurpleTinaBeans
Site: Predestination

Jason Winter
Twitter: WinterInformal
Site: MMO Bomb

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56 Comments on "Massively Opinionated: Which MMO is the stickiest?"

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Bananni_Kerblammy
Guest
Bananni_Kerblammy

Detton Akami Or…J.K. Rowling could expand the universe FOR the MMO and thus pull all the fans to play the game, making it amazing. =D I would play a Harry Potter MMO if I knew the universe would be expanded, even just for the story.

AGx
Guest
AGx

For me it’s FFXI. The game is s*** and I know it [now] but I love it still.

bossrprouse
Guest
bossrprouse

The stickiest MMO? WoW created by ArenaNet and updated by Daybreak. Talk about the ultimate MMO that’ll keep bringing people back.

Craywulf
Guest
Craywulf

I hate that term! call it staying power or habit-forming….stop with this “sticky” nonsense. MMOs aren’t candies and or glue!  /rant

GW2 has me as sometimes I log in just look around. No other game does that to me.

karakedi
Guest
karakedi

For me, it’s LotRO, even after trying other, newer games. In part, of course, it’s the IP:  I’ll probably always value the world and cultures that Tolkien created, and I continue to be impressed by the LotRO team’s efforts to stay true to them, while filling gaps and adapting to the demands of gameplay. The community is relatively mature and friendly, especially on the ‘server’ I play on. Although there is what seems to be the requisite MMO warfare, there are also non-violent activities and opportunities for exploration.  I’m a founder and ‘lifer;’ the latter is one of the most lasting investments I’ve made.

srmalloy
Guest
srmalloy

fastcart bakkahentai2600 However, being fully voiced has its drawbacks. It’s unlikely that we’ll ever see new basic classes in SWTOR because that would require all of the existing side-mission voice work to be redone for the new class as well as the class-mission voice work, and doing all that work for content only one class will see gets them much less ‘bang for the buck’ — as demonstrated with the Ilum, Makeb, Rishi, Yavin, and Ziost content, making content shared by all the classes in a faction means that they’re paying for much less development work for the ‘same’ number of missions. And the almighty bottom line ensures that a company that’s looking to milk the cash cow is going to invest as little as possible in content to keep the money coming in. That’s why you’ll see cosmetics (i.e., cartel market pack material) and shared content as the vast majority of what comes out as ‘expansion’ material.

ZenDadaist
Guest
ZenDadaist

Stickiest would have to be the one I return to again and again over the years after getting bored with newer ones. Stickiest describes the older games that have survived over time while newer ones have been closed down. For me that would be AO.

Kalamari
Guest
Kalamari

guild wars 1. huge PvE replayability and an immensely fun PvP/GvG mode.

Radfist
Guest
Radfist

The Everquest franchise. Although SoE / Daybreak have done a good job of fixing that for me for the past 2 years with horrible monetisation and development.

schlag sweetleaf
Guest
schlag sweetleaf
Denice J Cook
Guest
Denice J Cook

I would have voted for EQ2, but Daybreak has been passive-aggressively driving most everyone they can from the game, so I’m not sure what to put anymore. 

I guess it’s ESO and Tera for me now.

Archebius
Guest
Archebius

Estranged Archebius blast tyrant Partially because MMOs are trending more towards things to be consumed. The industry is adapting to our buying and playing patterns.

It does make it easier for the devs, but I think a lot of people would like to see more communities forming.

Denice J Cook
Guest
Denice J Cook

ManastuUtakata 
Witcher 3 is well worth a play even though you cannot.  It’s not an MMO so everybody out there is playing the same exact character when they play it, but the character development, story and skills make it a must-have.
Outside of horse-riding control being a bit wonky (which the Elder Scrolls and Two Worlds franchises also suffer from) there isn’t much not to like.  Just don’t play it in front of children.  ;)

Winterskorn
Guest
Winterskorn

I would totally play a Harry Potter MMO :D

Celestia
Guest
Celestia

Peregrine_Falcon I’m still deeply stuck as I suspect you are as well, friend.

Peregrine_Falcon
Guest
Peregrine_Falcon

Which MMO is the stickiest?
City of Heroes of course.

Werewolf Finds Dragon
Guest
Werewolf Finds Dragon

That one’s easy. ESO and TSW. Voiced, high quality, lots of variety, and so on.

Werewolf Finds Dragon
Guest
Werewolf Finds Dragon

The Elder Scrolls Online, The Secret World, Uru: Ages Beyond Myst — these aren’t sticky at all. They have clearly defined exit points, they have chaptered stories with end points, there is always a time when you can just put it down for a time and come back later, or put it down and never go back. That should always be the choice of the player.
I actually think that ‘stickiness’ is unethical design. An MMO shouldn’t be sticky. It shouldn’t have peer pressure, skinner box systems, gambling, and other forms of brainwashing to keep people playing it. Why is it that we can’t just play a story from beginning to end with some friends (like the ones I’ve mentioned above do it), then put it down and find a different game? Why is it that we have to link MMOs to stickiness in the first place??
I think that embracing these unethical design choices are why many people see MMO players as weak-willed saps, the kind of thing that people go into and never return from. And yes, I lost a good friend that way — to WoW. I’m not the only one. There are countless stories of people out there on the Internet who’ve lost people to MMOs; They’ve watched a family member’s or friend’s life fall apart because of sticky MMOs, MMOs they can’t stop playing.
As I’ve pointed out, there are really negative ramifications for this. A mother let her kids die because she couldn’t stop paying WoW. Just look it up on a web search and find out it’s true, or don’t and call me a liar, it’s your prerogative (though that doesn’t make it any less true).
Is this really something we want attached to MMOs going forward? I’ve been a strong proponent of MMOs scrapping end-game and just having an ending. Okay, you’ve completed teh story, here’s your ending, off you go.
This is what New Vegas did. And yes, weak-willed people complained, because they were addicted and couldn’t stop. The game made them stop. This is ethical design. Sometimes you just have to think for people who can’t stop themselves, as some don’t have the strength of will, character, and identity to avoid conditioning. Even when it’s unintentional. And with some MMOs, there’s even intentional brainwashing (WoW et al, which makes a point of hiring people with psych backgrounds).
I don’t think that brainwashing and conditioning should be an integral part of MMOs. I don’t think they should be ‘sticky’ at all. I think they should last as long as they last… then you stop. And that’s that. Time to get on with your life. Do something else.

ManastuUtakata
Guest
ManastuUtakata

BalsBigBrother ManastuUtakata 
Well…um…thanks for explaining that.
“You don’t play Witcher, Uta?”
…well, can I roll something small, pink and pigtailed that can hit really hard? I might give it go if so! <3

Jay_Bird
Guest
Jay_Bird

BalsBigBrother ManastuUtakata I loved that avatar (although this new one is great too!) So sad that Iorveth didn’t make a comeback for Witcher 3, he was one of my favorite characters. Still a great game so far, though!

wjowski
Guest
wjowski

…Revival.

Cramit
Guest
Cramit

BalsBigBrother fastcart Second

fastcart
Guest
fastcart

bakkahentai2600 SWTOR because with 12X XP, you can skip them all. (:

Also, SWTOR because they are fully voiced.

BalsBigBrother
Guest
BalsBigBrother

ManastuUtakata  The new avatar is Geralt from Witcher 3, which I might have played a little bit over the past week or so … um ok I am at 79 hours so maybe more than a bit but it is really good.  The old avatar was a Witcher 2 one but that character doesn’t seem to be in the new game sadly.  Not sure I like this one so it may change or I may just go back to my old one. :-)

ManastuUtakata
Guest
ManastuUtakata

For me, a good sign of stickiness is when you get stuck at the character creator perfecting your creation. Though I understand one must never judge an MMO by it’s CC cover. But for me, if there is as much thought that went into this as there is with the game, the probabilities of it being sticky is also higher. Also see: City of Heroes.
PS: What’s with BalsBig’s new look? o.O

bakkahentai2600
Guest
bakkahentai2600

Here’s a question for the show:

What current MMO has the best side quests?

BalsBigBrother
Guest
BalsBigBrother

Tina Lauro BalsBigBrother I have heard a rumour somewhere that you are apparently allowed to play more than one mmo, scandalous I know but apparently its true. So we will have to make sure both of them are made and the we both win with no heart breaking needed :-)

fastcart
Guest
fastcart

Shoot, I forgot Final Fantasy too.

BalsBigBrother
Guest
BalsBigBrother

fastcart Everquest would win without breaking a sweat :p

fastcart
Guest
fastcart

I have a topic or question for a show:

Which current or past MMO in existence have the most hardcore fans (when it comes to conventions, cosplay, etc.)?

I can see SWTOR, WoW, and EVE battling it out.

Tina Lauro
Guest
Tina Lauro

BalsBigBrother  Oh BBB, you have broken my poor wee heart! :P I have to be fair here: I can totally see the appeal of Judge Dredd, and the moment I heard it come out of Cosmic’s mouth I knew he was on to something.

BalsBigBrother
Guest
BalsBigBrother

I would so play a Judge Dredd mmo so many options both pve and pvp.  Several different styles of judges that cover most of the usual class tropes but over above that you have so many other options for classes / mutants.  Murder investigations (TSW style) and lots of other styles of play that could be covered.
Also can you imagine Block War pvp, so you basically get a built in three faction pvp arenas,  Players of Block A try to take over / destroy Block B with their players defending and counter attacking. Then you have the Judges wading in to try and quell both parties.  
Judge Dredd could cover the whole sandbox / theme park / large scale open world pvp (wasteland) its got nearly everything covered and built into the IP (even wizards of various types, sorry Tina Harry Potter can’t compete :p ).

Tina Lauro
Guest
Tina Lauro

Detton Akami  Quidditch is most definitely compelling, especially since it’d be insanely difficult to make an accurate playable version of the sport in the real world.  I think a Quidditch season would definitely help with stickiness, particularly if you could practice to skill up and then try out for your nation’s team for the World Cup. The possibilities…

Flamethekid
Guest
Flamethekid

No such thing anymore WoW came by made a formula everyone wanted to follow it and the new genre was born and it is known as the revolving door mmo

black desert online was the most recent game to convert to this formula

but in my opinion stickiest game i have played is mabinogi(pre genesis had the best stickiness) soooo much to do the storyline takes a long while and feels natural(before genesis update atleast now its pretty dam rushed) you could train your skills by using it and their was different requirements to train your skills in a way that didn’t feel terribly grindy(except engineering and blacksmith and magic craft) was a pretty sticky game i will admit played it for a total of nearly 6 years 

moved on when all my friends left and the game changed its formula to mimic the single player revolving door style and went from fantasy life to anime life

Tina Lauro
Guest
Tina Lauro

hugmonster  The bow has came off, so they’re now just kitty instead of being Hello Kitty. :( I need to order a new pair or three! ^.^

Archebius
Guest
Archebius

blast tyrant I think you’re right that this is the way the industry is trending, and I think it’s a shame.

samruck
Guest
samruck

Anything with constant PVE updates.

Detton
Guest
Detton

Akami Detton Quidditch would make for a good minigame / ‘pvp’ event, I agree.  I think Harry Potter as a universe needs to be expanded on more before it can really be converted to an MMO.   We need to know more about what’s happening everywhere outside of Hogwarts to really build a consistent theme.

It’s an interesting thought experiment, and I’ll admit I’ve thought it through.  I brainstorm MMO ideas that will never come to light all the time, though, because … nerrrrrrd

Detton
Guest
Detton

BalsBigBrother Akami Does the blooper reel include just a stream of swear words after someone drops something?  I just want to hear a loud crash followed by censor-beeps for, like, ten minutes.

Akami
Guest
Akami

Detton Akami Exactly lol.  I wanted to say, in response to the “what would make harry potter sticky” question, quidditch!  Duh.  Imagine playing a pvp style (think hutball) arena game based off quidditch.

I still think the rest of the harry potter world wouldn’t make it’s self into an MMO as well.  But pvp Quidditch would be epic lol, and even if the rest of the MMO sucked, that would keep people playing.  Kind of like hutball did for swtor.

blast tyrant
Guest
blast tyrant

Akami blast tyrant Some games are stickier than others, and some players are more likely to want to stay in one game than others.  Occasionally you get a game with the right amount of stickiness for certain players, and those players stay with the game for a long time.  I think 10 years ago the demographics of MMO players lent themselves to stickiness as a concept being more prevalent, but as the market has expanded those demographics have shifted to reflect the more diverse player base.   The type of player who wants to stay in one place is now only a part of the market instead of the defining segment of it.

BalsBigBrother
Guest
BalsBigBrother

Akami Not live streamed but I hope Larry is keeping all the out takes / bloopers for a compilation at some point in the future :-)

Detton
Guest
Detton

Akami Yeah – I keep finding myself wanting to reply in response to something they are saying as they say it, and it would just spam up the comment section. :)

Akami
Guest
Akami

This needs to be a livestream so fan’s can comment during the discussion lol.

Akami
Guest
Akami

blast tyrant Is this the way things are now because that’s what people want.  Or because modern MMO’s are missing that http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=je+ne+se+qua&defid=2656409 that made older MMO’s sticky, and caused people to play them for years on end?

Mansemat
Guest
Mansemat

Akami They should just make it an actual online school disguised as a Potter MMO. The people would go from class to class relearning English, HIstory, and Economics. etc. while they all all compete for higher grades and grind out their social cred. All the while thinking they’re little prepubescent wizards in training.

jhuynh405
Guest
jhuynh405

Akami An MMORPG set in the Harry Potter *universe*, but not necessarily in the same timeline as the books would be full of possibilities. Imagine you get to choose whether to be good or bad, with aurors (highly elite wizards/witches who catch dark wizards) being on the far end spectrum of good, and dark wizards/witches who work with people like Voldemort on the far end spectrum of evil. In the books there’s herblore, potion making, astronomy … it’s just ripe with promise.

blast tyrant
Guest
blast tyrant

SoMuchMass WoW reached critical mass both in number of players and in cultural relevancy/prominence.  It’s the default MMO in many ways and folks will always migrate back to it.

Akami
Guest
Akami

I never understand all of the people that want a Potter MMO lol.  I mean, how would that work for an MMO?  Today in class we are learning about levitation charms kids, now take out your wands…..  o.O

blast tyrant
Guest
blast tyrant

Stickiness is soooo 2005.  MMO tourism is the way it is for me now.  I played 10 different mmos last year, different ones got my money every month depending on what they were offering.  Last month it was STO because of the delta recruit option and I dropped $40 on various cash shop options. Haven’t logged in two weeks, I probably won’t touch it again for months.  I’m playing SWTOR now so I bought some cartel coins and subbed for the month.  When I get bored with SWTOR, I’ll move on to something else.   Disposable games to play and disposable players to play with, no commitments and no obligations.  I’m well past the point of worrying about building a “community” in a video game.

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