The Daily Grind: How can MMO communities revive a dying playerbase?


A while back, I read a Reddit thread from players of a certain small MMO who were discussing what the community could do to, well, save the game and give it the prominence it deserves. “Honestly this game is awesome, and has so much potential,” the OP said. “I’d love to see it thrive – what are some suggestions we can come up with as a community to possibly help the game thrive?”

First… wholesome, right? And second… this is a good question. The responses were maybe less helpful, as the overriding opinion seems to be “nothing” – or more specifically, that the community is limited in what it can do if the game itself has issues. I’m not sure I agree. There are quite a few smaller MMOs that have stayed on my radar specifically because of their high-quality communities, which make a quiet but persistent attempt to clean up Reddits and forums, host events, run servers, put together petitions and ideas, tip off journalists, stream the game, and provide a welcoming atmosphere for newbies. It shouldn’t be up to the community to do unpaid marketing for an MMO for the studio, no, but there are certainly ways to help.

How can MMO communities revive a dying playerbase?

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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Only way is to recruit more players and put more money in the game. Game’s run off statistics and profitability.

Bruno Brito


What they can, is foster a good community and playerbase, by valuing them and keeping them around by working on things that keep these players playing. They can stop the bleed and find their niche.

Instead, what most companies do, is to attempt in vain, to reconquer that lightning in a bottle, like they’ll make an old game having a burst of life, which will drip back quickly to bad numbers, with decisions that will also alienate their loyal players.

So, no. It isn’t possible, and they shouldn’t honestly try too much. You keep players, you don’t “recover” them. If they left too soon, they weren’t worth keeping around, if they left later, you failed at keeping them because you didn’t hear their feedback.

Kickstarter Donor

Can a Community revive a dying Playerbase? that’s an interesting question.

I guess my feelings on the subject would lean towards a “conditional” no…

A community can certainly do and act in ways to make it seem appealing to want to be a part of it, and interact and therefore play the game. BUT if the game is lacking in some department that is making people leave anyway then that is only going to go so far and last so long.

So a community could certainly bring people in… but as to whether they stick around? well…

Unless the Developing studio is doing their bit to fix the issues and resolve problems that lead to its player base leaving then the community is at best a band-aid on a gaping wound for the game and it will inevitably bleed out irrespective.


To a large degree it depends on why the game’s population is small.

If it’s a good game with a developer that’s actively supporting it but hasn’t caught on? Then the existing community can help grow the game. They can be welcoming to new players, they can create and update a wiki, do guides for new players, stream the game (or watch streamers who stream it), send in tips to places like Massively when there’s an upcoming in-game event, etc.

All of that can help raise visibility of the game over time, and increase the odds that once someone who’d like the game has found it, they’ll stick around.

But if the game’s target is inherently a small niche, or if the developers aren’t supporting the game? Then all the community – no matter the size and no matter how dedicated – can do is slow the decline.

On their own, players cannot “save” a game whose developer has abandoned it. They can give the game time for the developers to change their mind, or try something “different”, but in the end, an MMO needs active development to grow. And absent that, best one can hope for is a gradual decline.

Kickstarter Donor
Brazen Bondar

On their own, players cannot “save” a game whose developer has abandoned it. They can give the game time for the developers to change their mind, or try something “different”, but in the end, an MMO needs active development to grow. And absent that, best one can hope for is a gradual decline.

We should print this quote on a bill board and erect it outside Funcom’s headquarters.

Kickstarter Donor

Honestly, just create content. Don’t hype the game or try to encourage people to play, just post screens or vids of you doing something cool or fun in the game, flesh out the wiki to help new players, stop and chat with new players in-game, and, perhaps most important for Legends of Aria, stop fucking murdering everyone you see outside of town and stop ganging up and going from dungeon to dungeon and awakening to awakening every night to kill people trying to do the content.

The playerbase is dying because the players are killing it.


This is the reason PvP fails without proper safeguards in place. This game was great when it was Shards Online. The PvP was fun and there was stuff to do all closer together due to the smaller map. Then they switched over to Legends of Aria with a split of PvP and PvE and that was OK as you had a choice on what you wanted to do that day. It still had it’s issues but was manageable.

Then they change it to pure PvE with the option to PvP only if you chose to and that was pretty decent but the PvP’ers weren’t happy unless they had free reign to just kill with impunity.

Steam launch approached and Citadel panicked and went all full out PvP.

The issue all along wasn’t really the ruleset, it was the world they created. It was/is dull and boring. People want to be engaged and Citadel completely failed at the level and still fail to realize it. The ship has sailed, they can’t turn it around without at least creating an actual world that people want to be in and at least creating a PvE server when they’ve done so.

Castagere Shaikura

I must be old because I remember a time long before Wow came out that small communities in an MMO were not a bad thing. The devs and the players had a real passion for those games and some of those communities would even grow slowly over time. Wow came out and the genre became mainstream and the money poured in. So today small communities are a death sentence for MMOs. The devs are no longer in control of their game the suits are. And for them, it’s only about money. It’s like Hollywood think of the Chapelle show. It was this small show that became a monster for the network and the suits wanted to take over. If dave had just taken the money we would have never got Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood stories because they didn’t like Charlie and didn’t think it would be funny.

Toy Clown

I’ll echo what others have suggested, and that’s to improve how new players are treated, as well as improve the current community. Let’s take SWG Legends as a great example. While it’s not dying by any means, the way the community has banded together to not only embrace new players but also to present a united front in creating content with each other and the social/dev team of Legends, it’s gone a long way toward growing the emu and making it the most populated one among dozens (if not more) with great retainment.

You have to figure out ways to embrace new players and retain them. Otherwise, a community is left with a stagnating base of players who have already done everything, achieved everything, and dwindle away over time. New players inject vital energy needed to grow any community.

This is also how I’ve been part of helping grow stagnant RP MMO communities in previous years, which is a system of embrace, accept, and retain.


I agree with the posters who said the communities can’t do anything. The fact is, some people just do not find certain games entertaining, trying to encourage those people to “give the game another try” or “keep on playing, there is more neat stuff in later parts” will not make them like the game. Doesn’t matter how friendly and patient you will be.

I have seen it happen with various games, especially when watching small streamers on Twitch who were trying new MMORPG, even the popular ones like FFXIV or ESO – you can be as helpful as you want to, even to the point of joining that person in game (I have seen plenty of viewers trying to help streamers in game) and describing everything, but if a person dislikes the game for some reason (slow combat, lack of PvP, lack of PvE grind, whatever it may be) – that person will leave the game, no matter how helpful you will try to be or how friendly you will be.

Ultimately only the game developer can do this through changes to gameplay. Even when it comes to harassment in game – it is ultimately up to developer to set up and enforce the rules to discourage this type of behavior and if, for example, developer refuses to ban harassers and cheaters and botters fast enough – there is nothing a community can do.

Dug From The Earth

Communities are limited in what they can do… but the things that help the most

1. Welcome and encourage new players
2. Dont be toxic
3. Be accepting of players who play for different reasons


I think the only way the community of a game can ‘revive’ a fading game is if the community itself was mainly responsible for the failings (looks over at almost all Open World, Full Loot, Always Flagged, PvP games). Never seen that happen, ever.

In my experience, most MMOs (WoW is a great example) start to shed subscribers due to poor design decisions of one sort or another. Then, refusing to admit the errors and just continue down the path of destruction and decay.

So, in my opinion, the best way to turn a game around is to fix the poor design decisions; FFXIV and ESO are great examples of how this can work out.