The Daily Grind: When have you felt loneliest in an MMO?

One of the things that no one discusses about MMOs is the way that they can be lonely. The presence of so many people in online games is important, it’s by definition one of the features that makes MMOs unique. And yet there are also moments and times when the games thus manage to feel unimaginably lonely.

Seeing areas in Final Fantasy XI once filled with players now almost completely empty, for example. When you’re up at the right hour in World of Warcraft and all of your friends have gone offline. Seeing your friends out in other things while you have nothing much to do in Final Fantasy XIV. Being the one person sitting on the outside edge of a roleplaying group in Star Wars: The Old Republic.

So let’s talk about that this morning, because that’s an uplifting topic for the day. When have you felt loneliest in an MMO? Was it a matter of timing, or was it even just a period of time when you saw your friends leaving without anyone new to connect with?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointedย 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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MMO’s are all becoming ghost towns. The more narcissistic people become, the more devs cater to it, which makes players even worse. And so on.

Zen Dadaist

When a game I previously played in a busy guild with lots of friends and in game acquaintances, is suddenly no longer busy. Or a hub that always had lots of folks in it now has nobody but me. Those are strange lonely moments.

Jared Buck

These days socializing in MMOs isn’t as important and that’s sad. Many MMOs are basically single-player games with constantly updated content. A couple years ago I would have found groups and lots of folks to play with. Now we only group up when content requires it, and many of the zones in the MMOs I play are empty since everyone’s in the high-level content.

I’m fortunate to still be friends with people I met playing MMOs, and we socialize outside of the games. But today’s MMOs miss that socializing aspect so much.


Cataclysm catastrophically crippled my social time in mmo’s people just moved on you know. I remember the exact moment actually its when I gave up my very active, sociable, funny and helpful guild to pursue loftier things … Little did I know the guy I gave it to turned out to be a total flake it was a nightmare and still haunts me to this day.

Joe Seabreeze

ESO is by far the loneliest Iโ€™ve ever felt in an mmo. I donโ€™t really remember why, maybe because it felt like a single player game with no single player content.

Avalon Alduin

I actually quit ESO for just this reason.. I didn’t play it long, but I felt it was the loneliest MMO I ever played. You are running around with plenty of other people, yet because all the content was fairly simple, no one really grouped, or did anything together.. They didn’t stop to talk, ask directions, look for help… They just ran by you, without even a wave. MMO’s are supposed to be about the social game, and I found no social game with ESO.

Joe Seabreeze

Yeah, that was probably it for me. Can’t anyone make a proper mmo that’s social anymore? That’s the reason I miss City of Heroes so much. That game was all about grouping and the LFG tools were awesome!

Cosmic Cleric

Canโ€™t anyone make a proper mmo thatโ€™s social anymore?

I think at least one of the new MMOs in development is more socially based.

Chris Moss

Around 2011-2012 is when FFXI really started to feel lonely for me. Many long time friends I had known had long vanished from my friends list. But during this time period is when the linkshell really started to thin out. Up til about 2011, our linkshell was extremely active in Abysea. With nearly 2 full alliances. I think by 2012 , we could barely get 2 parties together. I knew then that our group was finally near it’s end. I still think fondly of the many days I spent on Asura with all my online friends, and I will always cherish those times.


When other players have hit speed boosts to take harvesting nodes before I get there or fire their ranged attacks to tag mobs before I can run there.

Lack of other players is fine; when the only people in the vicinity are making it clear they’d rather ‘win’ than be nice – that’s lonely.

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On Christmas Eve mostly. Every other day there are people online either from my friedlist or just normal PUG people but on christmas eve everyone’s offline. So I choose a christmas tree and just spend some time with the tree and NPC’s.

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When I started LotRO in 2007, I joined a guild I played with in Asheron’s Call. For the most part, they’d left by the time I went on hiatus in 2013. Somehow the kinhall is always paid up, so at least one other is still popping in, but I haven’t see anyone online since I returned in 2016. Probably the nadir was when I thought to visit the kinhall ~6 months after the housing upgrades, and found the decorations still half-buried in the walls from hook changes.

When STO added fleet starbases, I spent a week coordinating a group of then-coworkers who played to get online at the same time (STO requires a full party to start a fleet). Most of them haven’t logged in in five-plus years now. The only one who still plays (who’s also, AFAIK, the only one still at that job) pops in for a weekend every three months or so. I’ve only run into him once in five years.

In SWTOR, ESO, and the other MMGs I’ve tried, I didn’t bother joining guilds at all.

Guilds have come to feel like a human appendix to me; an obsolete throwback to an earlier way of living, that I only read about when someone else is having problems with theirs.


Just before my wife and I started having kids, I had gotten pretty active into EQ2 raiding, and once we had kids I couldn’t guarantee raid attendance or time so I stayed in the guild but more casual.

Pretty quickly, a lot of the connections I’d started to build with the guild really diminished since I wasn’t there for the core guild activity, and when I was able to get on I’d rarely get more than a ‘Hey’ from a couple people, and over time even that started to diminish. It did get pretty lonely for a while, since I also wasn’t really able to go out IRL, and pretty much went through that phase where your life transitions to being all about those couple people in your immediate family.

It’s not like it’s the worst thing in the world, but having those virtual friendships cool at the same time my RL social options diminished was pretty lonely.