The Daily Grind: When was the last time an MMO made you rethink your hobby?

This past week, my husband has been obsessed with Succubox. It’s a satirical clicker game where you start out by click-fighting monsters and buying lockboxes, but you quickly figure out that the way to win in the “game” part of the game is to get a job and then hire workers to play the game for you, and then you hire workers to buy and open lockboxes. Eventually, you end up with a successful intergalactic corporation focused entirely around grinding and opening lockboxes. It’s basically The Stanley Parable for lockbox MMOs.

You can play it for free if you’re so inclined and see what I’m talking about – it’s actually pretty funny on one level – but that’s not really the point. The point is that the game makes me angry because it’s right. And we all know it’s right. And while my husband’s cracking up pushing the “use knife” button to grind his in-game “job” for “promotions” so he has more “money” to spend on making “bots” open “lockboxes,” I’m reconsidering some of the MMORPGs on my hard drive whose business models look way too much like the ones being parodied in this incredibly insightful game.

When was the last time an MMO made you rethink your hobby?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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41 Comments on "The Daily Grind: When was the last time an MMO made you rethink your hobby?"

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Alex Malone

SW:TOR in 2012/2013 (first year after release).

I’ll admit, I was an MMO addict. Whilst I cut my teeth in SWG, it wasn’t until 2007 and LotRO that I really became addicted. I was averaging 4 hours a day, starting with LotRO, then WAR, then SW:TOR with plenty of betas/emus along the way.

And that was fine with me, because I loved the games I was playing. I had an amazing guild, we used to meet up in real life too. I got a girlfriend through my guild and we lived together for years. It was fun, social, rewarding and didn’t interfere too much with the rest of my life.

But then came SW:TOR.

By this point, I’d already seen LotRO gutted by F2P and turned into a hollow mess. I’d seen WAR release full of bugs and left to rot. But here comes SW:TOR. It’s Bioware (yay!) and Mythic (yay!) making a star wars MMO (yay!). I was worried during closed beta, but reassured by the devs that things were changing. I was then really crestfallen at release as it was still a pile of shit, but the devs kept telling us they’d improve the game.

That first year was just a mess. How could a company with so much money and so much talent make so many mistakes?! It boggled the mind. They weren’t even original mistakes, they were things that others had got wrong and fixed in most previous MMOs, but for some reason Bioware didn’t pay attention. It was a massive financial failure, resulting in the F2P switch and reduced investment in content. It was a failure with the players who left in droves, resulting in 2 rounds of server mergers within the first 12 months.

What finally made me rethink my hobby was the first expansion. I spent my first year of SW:TOR campaigning for changes. I would post on the official forums and engage with the devs. I would analyse their mechanics and itemisation, show where they were going wrong and suggest improvements. I got tons of praise from devs and players.

Then the first expansion was announced.

No improvements.
No changes

Just more of the same shit. I couldn’t believe it. Not even a vague attempt to fix the underlying issues with the game. Instead, they would focus on the single aspect that a small niche enjoyed – the story – and would just ride that one feature until the game shuts down.

Fuck that. At that point, I realised I had reached a point where I was only playing MMOs because of my guild. I had long since stopped enjoying the gameplay. It had been dumbed down too much and the genre overrun with retarded publishers who know nothing about MMOs. So, on the day the first SW:TOR expansion was announced, I unsubscribbed. Since then, I haven’t committed to a single MMO. Instead, I play the betas, assess the game for what it is and see if it is worth my time. So far, none of them are. Developers are making the same mistakes over and over again, mistakes that directly affect my enjoyment (solo-focused, vertical progression, linear worlds/story etc).

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Tobasco da Gama

Neverwinter’s campaign system put me off MMOs entirely for a good while. We all know that MMO endgames basically amount to “grind this thing until you have enough to grind the next thing”, but that game was especially brazen about it.

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Robert J. Reynolds

I’m currently level 20 and I can’t quit playing.

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adri

February 2014. I realized that I’m not (and was never) the target audience for Guild Wars 2. I had played GW2 since launch by early 2014. They don’t support people who can spend thousands of hours per year in a game. It was a very deep and important time for me personally which made me think about more than just GW2. Am I the target audience for anyone or any game? Am I just to old? It kick started a long chain of thoughts.

Cadaver
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Cadaver

Recent events and trends have definitely dampened my enthusiasm for MMOs and online-gaming in general. When developers cynically embrace anti-consumer strategies, why continue to consume their products? Such cynicism and contempt begs to be repaid in kind. But that doesn’t necessarily mean I have to give up on gaming in general. I just have to make more informed choices when I spend my gaming dollars. For that I need honest, trustworthy sources of information. So I very much appreciate MOP’s consistent and vocal opposition to all of this predatory bullshit. Please keep it up, through 2018 and beyond.

kofteburger
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kofteburger

Never. I don’t have anything else to do.

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

I have accomplished all I came to do.

hats.jpg
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athiev

There are also at least legendary hats. Sorry…

miol
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miol

Boy, that game is really sobering! o.O

– “My God, what have I done?!”

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Cosmic Cleric

When the company behind the MMO does unethical things to it’s customers (ex.: selling flying mounts in an xpac that doesn’t let you fly in the xpac zones, loot boxes, etc.).

Also when the company radically changes things in-game (ex.: class design) so that you don’t feel that your time investment for progressing is safe, especially so when said changes are more about manipulating you out of a fear of the customer gets bored with the current class design, and may no longer stay a customer, than flaws with the current class design.

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McGuffn

This is why that lady in The Guild had her kids grind for her.

Reader
cerement

This sounds like a perfect lead in for the next Daily Grind: What MMO do you find is the least abusive towards its players?

  • Bonus: Has a decently sized and stable player base (ie. not gonna die next year)
  • Bonus for me: Progression through open world and exploration is rewarded
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Zora

Hmm… possibly playing a mage in WoW at launch, cussing at the screen and yelling obscenities at her such as “what am I paying you for!” because in my mind they were all (under-performing) minions under my employ /cough

That aside, in between being eminently easy-going with gameplay and selective in picking my endeavours, I never reached a point where I’d stop and wonder why am I doing this to begin with in any MMO I tried.

Lucky me?

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Bhagpuss Bhagpuss

Most days when I play MMOs it just helps me remember how happy I am to have this as my hobby. I have the benefit of having come to MMOs at the start of my 40s, with a few decades of other hobbies and interests behind me. With that perspective, I’d say this is the most consistently satisfying of all the hobbies and pastimes I’ve tried and its failings and shortcomings are small indeed compared with other ways of getting from one end of the day to the next that I’ve tried.

What I have very seriously rethought a number of times in the last few months is whether it’s doing me any good to have MassivelyOP in my Feedly feed. It’s demoralizing to read headline after headline, item after item, all bashing the hobby I love. The hobby may not be perfect but it’s in much better shape than you might think from reading the coverage it gets here.

There is, however, no reasonable alternative to M:OP when it comes to MMO news and I do want to be kept up to date so I carry on. I would welcome a significantly more positive approach in 2018, though, regardless of the shenanigans developers come up with.

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athiev

I respect that! But the baseline level of positivity in games journalism is so high compared with virtually any other domain in life that I think it skews our perspective. The vast majority of MOP articles seem to my eye to be very positive; critical stuff is probably well under 10% of the content, and it seems hard to argue that less than 10% of MMO reality is problematic.

Xijit
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Xijit

Black Desert Online … Just … All of it.

The whole combination of being my dream MMO with every mechanic I want, sabotaged with every destructive, stupid, greedy, management decision you could possibly make.

… Made me realize that I will never have the game I want, because the fundamental management of the industry is toxic.

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Veldan

Do you mind elaborating? What’s so bad about BDO? (I played it, but only for a few weeks after launch?

Reader
Chris Vincenti

The enchanting system is one of the most soul-crushing mechanics I’ve ever encountered. The base level of adding “plusses” (from +1 to +15) is bad enough, since it’s totally random whether you’ll add to the enchantment level. But at least you can’t lose progress (although your weapon/armor loses durability with each failed RNG enchant…and this durability loss can only be fixed by burning through additional copies of the weapon/armor). And since you can fail literally dozens of times moving from, say, +13 to +14, you’re repairing and buying replacement mats constantly. Once you get the weapon/armor past +15, though, you stand the very real chance of having the enchant fail AND the weapon/armor lose stats.

Of course, you can buy items from the cash shop that make the item repair less painful.

What’s even worse: when you fail enchanting an _accessory_ (ring/necklace/etc.), the accessory is destroyed outright. You then start over from scratch by buying or grinding another ring/necklace/etc. And naturally these accessories cost millions of silver each at their base level. Once you’ve successfully upgraded a couple of times, on the other hand, that necklace you failed to enchant cost you several hundred million silver.

Losing XP upon death (once the first “soft level cap” of 56 is reached) is really painful, considering that a level-appropriate monster awards something like 0.005%. Yes, that means it takes 2000 monsters to gain 1% toward the next level. Sure, it’s a grinder game. But when you lose 1% or more upon death, well, you can see where some of us non-total hardcore folks might be a little frustrated. And if there’s a way to reclaim that lost XP (by clicking on your corpse, reclaiming a soul orb, etc.) I havent’ found it. Nope. You just lose thousands of monsters’ worth of XP and have to grind them all over again.

Combine that with the fact that essentially no quests provide XP toward levelling and the treadmill you’re running on gets steeper and steeper. You HAVE to kill armies’ worth of mobs to level. Die once and you lose an hour’s progress. Turn in a quest where you are asked to kill hundreds of enemies and you don’t see your level gauge move AT ALL.

Forcing me to keep the computer on just so that my NPC hirelings continue to do their job is also an annoyance, since they will otherwise only finish the task they were assigned before you log out and then sit there useless until you log back in.

Those are a few things that frustrate the heck out of me. And it’s a shame, because I love the ideas about advancing life skills and the economy that are buried way down there underneath the grind.

Reader
Daniel Reasor

The toxicity of WoW’s community forums during Wrath of the Lich King’s launch event had me go there and reconsider my hobby, but that was brief and quite a few years ago.

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Schmidt.Capela

The WotLK launch event was a watershed event for me too. Not in questioning the hobby, but in questioning if Blizzard could ever be trusted to keep their games enjoyable; that event made WoW completely unenjoyable and useless for me for a whole week and led me to cancel my WoW subscription for many months as I looked for some other MMOs that could replace WoW for me.

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Armsbend

I’d say Massively Over-Powered makes me rethink my hobby on a weekly basis. Inadvertently just by posting the news of the industry. Does that count?

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Terren Bruce

I can’t say I have ever experienced this no. If a game is making one feel this way then one should definitely stop playing the game. It’s not really a reflection of the genre or the hobby.

Honestly I’m enjoying myself more now than I did back in the days when WoW was at it’s height and there were no loot boxes, only subscriptions. Cash shops and loot boxes mean I control how much I spend, not the developers. I’ve spent far less on GW2 than I did in WoW for example.

I know some people spend more in cash shops or loot boxes than they would on a subscription but that is their choice. Or if they must do so to progress in the game then they are playing the wrong game.

And of course two of the biggest MMO’s are still subscription games if one prefers that format.

It might just be Bree that you need to choose your games more wisely if you find Succubox is ringing a little too true for you.

Reader
roo woods

About two weeks back just got fed up with all the anti-social players in mmos .

Since then I have only been playing Lotro which after 8 years
of playing it I have yet to ignore one player .

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Veldan

Ignoring others / a disinterest in being social is not called anti-social. Asocial is the word you’re looking for.

Reader
Cosmic Cleric

You’re over-analyzing his point/post.

He’s not saying that he doesn’t want to be social.

He’s saying that players in LotRO are less toxic, more friendly, hence, no need to /ignore .

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Utakata

Pink Friday!

“It’s ‘Black’, Uta.”

…not in my head and pigtails it isn’t! <3

But I am sure that answer todays' DG though. To which I posit that anytime developers change the rules and dynamics of the game I am playing into annoying, disingenuous and/or pointless aspects, despite being well criticized points not to do so by the game's consumers. Such as making difficult chasm I about to cross much wider. Or placing a pay wall between it. Or making the chasm deeper with added extra spikes and croc mobs at the bottom to welcome the unintended fall. Or rewarding me with a bunch of inventory spamming lockboxes as on the other side oppose to actual loot. I could go on…

It's those things that start to make my hobby suddenly unfun, makes me want to question it. As I am here to get away from the misery of real life, only to be faced with more misery because the devs upstairs decided their game wasn't miserable enough for players and/or their bottom line. /sigh

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Robert Mann

Oh, there’s been quite a few game announcements of “Hey, look, we did the same thing yet again!” However, given that there’s always some news out there that something other than just another blatant reskin is around… the effect lasts no more than a mere moment.

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Hirku

The only thing any one video game can make me rethink is whether or not to keep playing that one video game. I find the idea of quitting the entire hobby for any reason laughable, but I also have the advantage of age and old-school gaming sensibilities. Even if modern gaming became a complete and utter wasteland, a couple hundred bucks during a GOG sale and I’m set for life.

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rafael12104

Succubox. LOL. Yeah, I’ve seen it and it is the meta of metas when it comes to MMOs.

But yeah, the game despite it’s obvious and maybe accurate, to some extent, and satirical portrayal doesn’t bother me. But when it gets real, when I am playing a game and I see behind the curtain, I have my doubts.

The last time was when SWTOR began their Command XP bullshit. So, almost a year ago. Don’t worry, I won’t go through the litany of issues with it, but essentially it added an artificial grind to the game that paid off with lootboxes. No longer could you count on loot tables and drops. Expected rewards turned into lootbox bingo.

I quit the game, and I looked around and saw a landscape riddled with these shenanigans. Luckily that soon was remedied. I played a few other MMOs. Found a few single player titles to truly enjoy and I found peace of mind again.

The key for me? Most games are what you make them. F2p, b2p, subs, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you enjoy the escape and share it with others.

So, I’m giving SWTOR another shot this holiday season. Putting aside my anger at what IMO was a grenade to all veteran players, and just playing it for the visceral fun of running around a Star Wars universe. I doubt I’ll stay as I am truly enjoying other games. But I remember now why I play. Just to have fun, that’s all.

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Zen Dadaist

Looks like the next evolution of Progress Quest.

But as to the quesiton posed in the title, I don’t think any particular event in an MMO has caused me to rethink my love of playing video games as a whole. Playing that particular game; yes. Plenty of times in fact. But games in general? Not so much. That said, the rise and rise of ever more predatory business decisions and implementation of techniques psychologically tailored to extract as much money from the consumer as possible fill me with revulsion. But I don’t connect that with playing games, I connect that with ever-more-greedy hypercapitalist market practices seeking to use games as a medium for funneling from the 99.99% to the 0.01%.

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David Goodman

My gaming hobby never included buying games with an abusive lockbox system in the first place, so I cannot really relate to the story above at all.

For MMOs? Re-think my hobby how? Decide not to play them? No. I mean, i’ve played some bad MMOs in my time and have put them down/ un-installed them because they were bad, but I don’t consider that re-thinking my hobby as a whole.

I did make the decision at some point that I would never have enough time in my life, or money in my bank, to purchase and play every MMO when it releases due to the sheer number of them coming out, so again, that’s not really a ‘re-think’ situation.

So I guess the answer is never.

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Veldan

Lol I played that Succubox for a bit, and I think it’s actually quite an accurate representation of how some people “play” MMOs and other online RPG style games.

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BalsBigBrother

I find thinking to be a bad habit and one I try to avoid at all costs despite may people trying to make me do otherwise. I press buttons and watch the pretties.

Sorry I got nothing *goes back to pressing buttons* OOOH SHINY! ;-)

Alfredo Garcia
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Alfredo Garcia

My version of this right now is taking every opportunity to jump off stairs, balconies, etc. with my Pandaren just so I can spin the camera around and watch his expression. Sometimes I am very easily amused.

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Pandalulz

MMOs are their own thing, and at this point, I expect just about anything terrible to come out of them at this point, it really doesn’t phase me anymore.

The one that bothers me though, is when I shelled out the $100 or whatever it was to buy the season pass version of Final Fantasy 15. Like, we know this isn’t going to be all the content, so do you want to not only pre-order the game, but then pre-pre-order all the stuff that we swear is going to come out for it at some point. And this is for what’s pretty much a single-player game now being sold to me in tiny chunks. The games industry is basically indulging my need to not buy games now, wait a while for a complete collection, and while I’m at it, might as well wait for them to go on sale. By attempting to keep themselves around by nickle and diming their customers, they are actually encouraging them to not buy their product, or at least not at release and probably in a round about way making it worse for themselves.

On the other hand, now it’s got me thinking, why does Netflix release their in house shows as episodes, why not just release Stranger Things Season 3 as a 12 hour epic, like when I decide to binge the Lord of Rings extended cut trilogy in a single sitting?

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Armsbend

I bet they tested that in house and found audiences couldn’t stick with it. With all but a few shows I wouldn’t be able to stomach a show without a “BREAK HERE”.

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Terren Bruce

Netflix has episodes because even if you’re binging the show you still need a convenient place to stop unless you’re really going to watch 13 hours in a row. ;)

Also not all shows are worth binging.

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Pandalulz

To clarify myself. When a game comes out and six months later they say, “hey guys, we’ve got this cool addon that we came up with after the game came out and it’s some cool bonus content” then I feel good about buying it.
When they tell me six months before the game comes out that they have exactly four expansion packs coming out after the game releases, I think to myself that they should just wait a year and release the whole game.
It’s all a matter of perception, because you know they were planning the DLC either way, but that’s sort of the point of the article. One feels ok, and one feels dirty, even though at the end of the day, they’re going to release the content whether they’ve told you or not.

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xanadox

Black Desert I think. When I realized what the game was about.

Every time there is a new MMO I try to hype myself in order to look for ‘past’ feelings. But when you start playing you realize that:
– spending money on it is useless
– grinding without fun is useless
– gearing up through extreme long sessions is useless.

as your char will be lost sooner than you think. And the main reason to leave is the main reason to arrive; your friends.

Many years ago we found the key word: fun.

If you have fun with it, you can even play tic-tac-toe online (nice MMO with many skins and lootboxes). If not, you will leave, although the game have great 3D graphics and a lot of different mechanics as… Black Desert.

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MesaSage

What day is it? Friday. Ok, then Thursday.

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Schmidt.Capela

That is why I won’t do any content if it’s not intrinsically rewarding, or in other words if playing it can’t be seen as its own reward. I don’t care if the external rewards, like loot or gold, are fantastic; if I don’t enjoy the content, I’m not playing it.

So, that scenario would never happen to me. If, for example, grinding is something I don’t enjoy but it feels necessary, I will stop playing the game instead.

This started before I got into MMOs, though. It’s why I use mods and cheats with abandon in offline games; I’m tailoring them to my own liking, rather than trusting the devs to know better.

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