The Daily Grind: Do you like the idea of limited-time MMOs?

This isn't alive yet, but it, too, is going to die.

One of the things that I find neat about games like Rend, Crowfall, and Chronicles of Elyria is that all of these games are by their very nature meant to be short-term affairs. The game only lasts so long. In some cases it’s a scheduled thing, in other cases it’s more an organic result, but all of them wind up in an end state. Nothing lasts forever, and eventually it’s time to count the victor and move on.

This isn’t actually a new idea in the MMO space, of course; A Tale in the Desert has been run using this structure for quite some time, The Matrix Online was in part based on the idea that every bit of the story would only last for so long, and progression servers like the ones EverQuest runs are meant to slowly catch up to the present until, well, they’re caught up. But it’s definitely reaching the point of being a full-on trend for these games in development to be time-limited.

What’s nifty about this approach is that no one gets to stay on top forever, and it gives a certain point to start and stop without missing out on things. Of course, that also means it’s easier to just stop playing after a certain point without feeling as if you’re missing things, turning the game into shorter-term play by its very design. What do you think? Do you like the idea of limited-time MMOs?

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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Jack Pipsam

Not really.

Oleg Chebeneev

What the heck is Limited-Time MMOs? There arent any that I know. Even LoTRO aims to keep updating with content when ring storyline is finished

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One of the big problems with a lot of MMOs at the moment is that the endgame is something you reach quickly and something that is somewhat slow, repetitive, and static. Time-limited worlds give studios a way out of that trap, so I think they’re definitely a good thing to be experimenting with. We’ll have to see whether anyone can find a model that feels good to the players and community in the long term.

I can imagine greatly enjoying a game that has a big storyline planned out that you play through over, say, two years. If you start at the beginning, you pay them $100. If you start at the end of year one, $50, and so on. I can also imagine enjoying something like Crowfall where some resources, skills, and trophies are maintained between game worlds, but the map itself is wiped clean (though balance there will be important…if those give too much of an advantage, you still end up in a scenario where each new game world is quickly conquered by the big old established guild).

Overall, cool concept, interested to see how it’ll work in execution, and thankful that studios are experimenting with the genre in this way!


Chronicles of Elyria’s method is a bit too indirect for my taste, but I love Crowfall’s method of trying to solve the problem you see in EVE Online where the big power blocks get entrenched and there’s little change for long periods of time.

Rend sounds like it’s trying to do something similar for the survival genre, and based on what I’ve read about it so far, I find it interesting.


I like the idea of having to start over but with various stuff added on due to your progression in a past life/character/whatever.



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No, limited time existence does not appeal to me at all. I can see why players who hop from game to game would like the idea. They would always get some new shiny, at least in theory. Who knows whether a developer would actually be able to sustain repeated changes or whether you would start to see old stories and old assets just re-formulated.

For myself, I want familiarity and consistency. I want to be able to work towards goals at my own pace and not at some break neck speed because the opportunity to accomplish some goal is going to vanish in [fill in the blank] amount of time.

Robert Mann

Not really. I don’t mind it as much as many people, but there are other ideas I would rather see in action. Of course, many people would also dislike my own preferences toward downtime, slower stories, sparser foes, dynamic spawn and economic conditions, less hand-holding and obvious goals, etc., and a TON of non-combat stuff to do to go along with it.

I think that half the idea is to remove the endgame creep effect, and to restore the challenges of early game. The problem with the method is that none of the systems really take away the progress meta, they just pretend that somehow the restart makes it more balanced. All it really does is add back in the initial grind. That’s not really going to sit well with many players.

So instead, my solution would be to effectively flatten everything to the point of there being no power creep. Or, rather, minimizing it as best possible, because I do think that gaining a little skill to show for long term practice is a good idea. So I might have weapon mastery systems where practice or use of a weapon each day would contribute a little to learning such improvements, and after a year of use you have a small benefit from that (leaving PvE slightly easier, without really making PvP feel completely unbalanced… hopefully.) The idea being that you can only learn this so fast, regardless of how much grind you want to throw at the game, but other things being more open (like economic opportunity.) *Although, the idea also would likely carry over to things like crafting if I was doing the design.*

Mr Poolaty


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Tobasco da Gama

I really love the idea of both ephemeral episodic content and game worlds that repeatedly end and get reborn, but they’re obviously a hard sell in a commercial market.

I know a lot of people have been grumpy that they missed parts of GW2’s first Living World season, but as one of those people (I didn’t get to participate in anything except the final battle for Lion’s Arch), I loved the sense of things changing around me and the fact that I could go and see the remnants of things like the Marionette and Tower of Nightmares out in the world created an awesome sense of history.

Ironically, though, I think GW2 was setting itself up for failure by having the Personal Story run alongside the Living World content. Any changes you make in the LW have to be compatible with the PS, and that’s a really big restriction on what kind of stories you can do

As for the idea of expiring sub-realms, I think it’s a cool idea, but I haven’t played a game yet that really incorporated that into its story and setting. I’d like to see that in a game less PvP-oriented than Crowfall.