There’s this particular template for covering MMORPGs on mainstream gaming websites that I cannot stand: the old “haha, MMOs are weird and old, let’s poke at them for our ironic amusement” article. Polygon ran a piece earlier this month that could’ve run the risk of falling into that trope but actually managed to raise good points instead of just taking a snobby dump on the whole genre – probably because the author actually likes MMOs in the first place.
Taylor Cooke ponders why he didn’t feel the urge to return to World of Warcraft for Battle for Azeroth, in spite of still enjoying and even craving some content – like raiding – that just can’t compare in more instant-gratification titles like Warframe and Diablo III. In fact, he wonders whether it’s the genre that’s changed too much – or him. Is it that he’s getting old, aging out of MMOs? Or are MMOs simply failing to keep up with the rest of the genre?
“The more ‘adult’ my gaming patterns become, the more I need that quick dopamine hit of regular rewards for long-term commitments. With more disposable income and more access to games (largely thanks to my job), it takes a lot for me find the willingness to commit to something that takes over a life as much as an MMO. With less time to play games overall, I need something that respects and rewards me for my time. Maybe one of the reasons we player fewer MMOs when we’re older is that we don’t have to; earning more money and setting your own schedule means that you have more options about what to do and play. Of course that means we don’t spend as much time on each game as we did when we were kids. […] For me to get back into an MMO like I did in my youth, it’s going to take a combination of all the things I love about gear-driven games. It’ll need the constant gratification from pure loot games, the set pieces from more traditional MMOs, and strong moment-to-moment gameplay. It’s not enough to have thousands of quests resulting in little more than a bump in experience and a few coins in my bag. It’ll only help if there’s a clear, direct path to the endgame.” (Emphasis ours.)
I thought it would be interesting to examine the piece and then reflect it back on ourselves. I don’t feel that I aged out of MMOs at all, but I do feel that in aging – and as the MMO genre has developed and spread out – I very much gained the freedom to play the styles of MMO I preferred all along, rather than being stuck in one of a handful of titles I didn’t much love to begin with. I might play less than I did as a teenager when I had plenty of free time, but I enjoy the time I spend much more because it’s more focused and more tailored to my personal tastes.
But other folks are going to feel that no modern MMORPG suits them, I’m sure. Do you think you’ve aged out of MMOs? Or is it that MMOs haven’t kept up for you?