Perfect Ten: What your MMO quantity says about you

It occurs to me that it is very difficult to find MMOs that I have literally never played before in some capacity. There are titles on the list, of course, but it’s a short list. Which amuses me, since anyone who listens to me on a regular basis knows that I have a small number of games that I consider “my” games, and usually there are just two that are fairly consistently on that list. But it’s part of the job; back when I first got this job in the time when dinosaurs roamed the Earth (the late aughts), my lifetime game count was at four. Maybe four and a half, if you want to count the Champions Online beta that talked me out of playing it at launch.

Of course, that’s one of the interesting elements not just of this job but about MMOs in general. You react differently depending on how many MMOs you’ve played, and considering that these games are big, long-term time commitments, that can produce some interesting dynamics. So let’s go ahead and take a look at what your personal lifetime count says about you and your understanding of the genre.

What do you mean it's not all like this?

1. One

Someone who has been playing just one MMO for any substantial length of time is probably not someone who likes MMOs. I have a friend who had never played an MMO before Final Fantasy XIV and still just plays FFXIV, because, well, she doesn’t really like MMOs. She likes FFXIV. If she stopped liking FFXIV, she’d stop playing it and just not play an MMO. That’s a completely understandable point of view to take; it means that the specific game is what has you, and losing it means the end of your interest in the genre.

Naturally, this means that your experiences are limited to one game and what that one game offers. For some games, that’s fine; if the game gives you lots of things to do, you can get lots of points of comparison about what other games might offer. On the other hand, some titles offer a rather limited view of the genre landscape as a whole (see also the dedicated Champions Online player who thinks that this amount of post-launch content is normal).

Oh, again.

2. Two

This can be a real danger zone. No matter what, this player is going to have left Game A to arrive at Game B, but there are two possibilities about why. It could be the story of “I played Game A, but Game B offered me X, which I really wanted,” which is totally normal and not a problem. Or it could be “I played Game A, but then Y happened, so now I play Game B.”

The second type of player is usually a bit like someone who broke up with their significant other without ever really breaking up. You know that the said player is really just waiting for Y to change again or get fixed or whatever, and as a result any deviation in Game B from being “Game A without Y” is going to be sharply criticized. It’s like watching later seasons of Friends when you just want Rachel and Ross to stop this back-and-forth already so you can get back to characters you like. No one cares who was on a break, guys. Chandler and Monica are funnier and smarter.

I hear and obey.

3. Three

Contrary to what Goldilocks taught us, it is rare that the third bowl of porridge is just right. It’s more likely that you’re starting to develop a sense of how porridge tastes instead, and you are tending to view each individual game as a stopping point for a time. That might not even be unidirectional; you might recognize that you’re playing Game A now, but in a year you’ll want to check out C, and then you’ll be back to B, then C again…

You still have a pretty narrow reference base, but you are at least starting to get an idea of the fact that it is a narrow reference base. You also tend to ask friends you like to game-hop along with you, because odds are good you’re going to game-hop at some point.

Yep.

4. Four, obviously

“Isn’t four just three, but… more?” Technically, from an arithmetical standpoint, yes. But if you’ve played four separate games it’s far more likely that you’re embracing the idea that you don’t need to stay in a game when you aren’t having fun. At the same time, you also want to stay in a game. You’re willing to search and find the games that actually allow you to do just that.

It doesn’t mean you’re always successful, but it’s starting to be unlikely that you can bear any actual grudges against games you’ve left behind. Those were the games you played, and now you’re playing something else. The quantity tends to wash things down a bit.

These will always be the voyages.

5. Clearly this is five

If you aren’t doing this for a living, this is a pretty good number to sit at. You’ve tried enough different MMOs that you have a good sense of what’s out there, but you aren’t committed to trying everything. You found something that works for you, and it might have its flaws and sometimes you want to go backwards, but darn it, this is where you hang your hat.

Still home, if we're being honest.

6. These headers are a bit redundant, aren’t they?

Of course, sometimes you’re at five games and things are going all right (maybe not great, but all right) and then you find yourself starting to be enticed by something else, some new game that promises all of the stuff you wanted from all five games in one package. And you might not think it’s actually possible, but you’re willing to give it a shot, aren’t you? Just at the chance alone. So you wind up at six.

Will that sixth actually deliver on its promises? Well, maybe, maybe not. Which is when you can start moving into some darker territories.

Notably after!

7. Seven, fine, whatever

Remember how I mentioned that two games provides an interesting dichotomy? Seven does as well. The first possibility is that you’ve played seven different MMOs for the same reason that wine afficianados have probably tried at least seven different kinds of wine, or whatever is a reasonable number. (I don’t care about wine.) You’re trying lots of things to build up an appreciation and diversity, and while you don’t expect each individual game to necessarily become your main thing, you want to give a lot of them a shot. You never know when you might find the next big thing.

On the other hand, you might also be what happens when someone at two game has metastatized into a lingering dissatisfaction. It’s very easy to reach this count because each game winds up being not quite perfect, so you check out and hope that the next one will be perfect, except nothing is ever actually perfect. There’s always going to be some little irritation as you move on to…

You let me down, man.

8. You already know this is eight

All right, now this is maybe getting a little bit out of hand. Now you’re trying new things in the same way that a frog offers tadpoles, jumping into each one in the hopes that this is going to be what makes you stick. And yet none of them do, because as I’ve discussed elsewhere, this isn’t what commitment looks like. You’re not seeking to commit, you’re waiting for a game to commit you, and by the time you’re in the game you already are looking to greener pastures.

But robots.

9. No

And here we’re looping back around, because if you count this many games on your “significant” list you probably are someone who prefers to hop from game to game. Sure, that means you’re never getting really deep into any game, but some people prefer having a lot of shorter experiences to any one really in-depth experience. You have just enough time and experience to know the general shape of the game, and then you’re off to the next thing.

That’s fine, too. After all, this just means you’re on the opposite end of the spectrum from the one-game player. That player really liked one game, not MMOs as a whole; you really like MMOs as a whole, not one game. Most of your friends probably don’t game-hop with you, but that’s just because no one can keep up with your hopping; your game friends treat you coming back around as a chance to give you a tour, more than anything.

Another style of robot.

10. A quarter of a million

Yeah, you probably do this for a living. Or you’re perpetually unsatisfied. Statistically, the latter seems more likely, but you can’t discount the other.

Everyone likes a good list, and we are no different! Perfect Ten takes an MMO topic and divvies it up into 10 delicious, entertaining, and often informative segments for your snacking pleasure. Got a good idea for a list? Email us at justin@massivelyop.com or eliot@massivelyop.com with the subject line “Perfect Ten.”
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13 Comments on "Perfect Ten: What your MMO quantity says about you"

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wife_for_sale

DAoC, AO, CoH/V, Eve, WoW, Rift, SWtor, Secret World, GW2, BDO, FFXIV (with a good many 1 or 2 day trys at others).
A great many end up either the same feeling as WoW (my love/hate game (been back and forward about 8 times now)) or they are a PvP nightmare (Being ganking just isn’t fun!).
And looking at what is coming out for the MMO market, I think the future is very bleak indeed! :(

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Bryan Correll

Hmmmm. Assuming I haven’t forgotten any* my number goes to…..14. Though two of them (Wildstar and DDO) I only played long enough to realize I didn’t care for them. 14 sure sounds like a lot, but it’s less than one a year from the time I started back in 2000-2001 with EQ. And I’m not playing any MMOs currently.

*I originally wrote 12 but realized before posting that I had indeed forgotten a couple. Though one of those was ArcheAge so maybe my subconscious was trying to keep the memory buried.

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Paragon Lost

No comment.

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NeoWolf

How many I own.. most of them, How many i have installed Three, how many I still play regularly..ZERO.
For me sadly the genre is a shadow of its former self with nothing but niche offerings or sad knock offs of games long since past.
Innovation and creativity in the MMO genre is sadly lacking..

that said though I am holding out hope and waiting patiently for its next gold age :)

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Alex Willis

Including “esques” like Warframe and ARK? Exactly 10. Of those, I have played 7 on what I could call a “regular” basis at various times.

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Thomas Zervogiannis

Or, you know, after 5/6 there is a chance that you realize that there is no need for such thing as “perfection” or “the one game that sticks”, because game designs can go for different things that are mutually exclusive by nature and you need more than one or two games alongside one another for different reasons, depending on what you want your gaming experience to be on that day/month/year (“do one thing and do it well”).

I get the feeling that I am actually one of the few MMORPG gamers that is satisfied with what is currently being offered and have more MMORPG’s on my list that I love for different reasons than I actually have time to play them.

Really fun article btw, it brought me a big smile reading it, thanks for that.

Yuge McBigly
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Yuge McBigly

What ship is that in the header image?

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Robert Mann

10+. Perpetually unsatisfied, spends more time on single player games or smaller multiplayer with friends, but keeps looking for something more like the virtual worlds that were the promise of the emerging genre… and less like the combat and fancy background games that came forth (oh, but sparkles and carrots, so please be distracted and not notice how shallow our game really is!)

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Dug From The Earth

I think the industry is slowly pushing players towards 10+

While other game genres are pushing the innovative bounderies of creation, gameplay and mechanics, the mmorpg genre is in a dark age period. In fact, its becoming a trend for companies now to start taking dated games and pushing those to market again as “rereleases” rather than trying to develop something new and ground breaking.

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TomTurtle

10+ AKA Hi MJ! And Justin maybe? /wave

In my experience the amount of MMOs people have played doesn’t correlate well to how jaded or open-minded they are.