Perfect Ten: Why do players keep playing MMOs they hate?

    
38
Perfect Ten: Why do players keep playing MMOs they hate?

Hating your recreation is an oddly common hobby for a lot of people. It’s not universal, of course, but after any given new game releases you don’t have to search long to find people who hate it and will loudly tell you how bad it is now that they’ve played 80 hours of it. A new movie is out? A lot of people who bought access to it will tell you how it turns out they indeed hated it. Some people seem to just enjoy being unhappy about some stuff.

The same is true for MMOs; we all know people who have nothing good to say about a given game but keep logging in. But today I don’t want to talk about whether or not these people exist; I want to talk about why. If you really do hate a given MMO, why keep logging into it on a regular basis? Why do players keep playing MMOs they hate? Let’s break that down into list format.

Roast somebody.

1. Unconscious inertia

The first rule of cartoon physics is that an object in motion tends to stay in motion until it realizes that it should no longer be in motion, and the same can be true of people. It’s all too easy for someone to just keep playing a game and having nothing positive to say until someone actually says, “Hey, if you hate the game so much, why are you still playing?

What’s less good is that this usually means the person being asked this will just leave the game immediately, so… you know. Swings and roundabouts.

2. Conscious inertia

In the former case, the answer to “why are you still playing” is a dawning “I don’t know” and a decision to just stop playing the game in question. Satisfying! In this case, though, the person who hates the game knows that it’s not fun to play any longer. They’re sticking with it more out of a fear of losing out, trying to soldier on and hoping that all of the animosity is more due to burnout than anything else.

In other words, this sort of player is well aware that leaving might mean leaving forever, and that means losing out on everything already accomplished. If the person in question is a friend, it falls on you to make it clear that you can take a break and rediscover the love much more easily if you give yourself time to recover.

Oh, right, I hate this.

3. Social pressure

Of course, sometimes you don’t keep playing because of raw inertia. Sandra isn’t playing because she just can’t bear to lose her stuff or anything; she’s playing because this is the only way she can hang out with Mike, Simone, and Sam. And she still has a huge crush on Sam, even though she’s not sure if Sam would be interested.

Wow, this hypothetical just got really depressing. Sandra, you need to make a move.

Anyhow, the point is that this situation is reliant entirely upon social forces. Your friends all play this game, or your guild requires your leadership, or you manage a community… in some way, you keep playing for others. You’re not having fun, but they are.

4. Financial dependence

There are two sides of this one. The first is that you keep playing this game because in some way, your income relies upon it. If you’re a popular World of Warcraft or Fortnite streamer, you probably need to keep playing even if you’re tired of the game. On this particular site we don’t have that problem, but if you work for a site where the only games you cover are made by a specific company, it doesn’t really matter if you no longer enjoy the games in question. You have to keep getting paid.

The other possibility is if your financial dependence is more about the cost of playing moving forward. Yes, you kind of hate Star Trek Online at this point, but… you bought a lifetime subscription ages ago, you can’t afford to subscribe elsewhere, and thus you have a vested interest in still playing STO after all.

Angry.rar

5. Lack of options or awareness

It’s very easy for people to either not know about all the MMOs on the market or just not have an accurate picture about what they all offer. I have certain friends who I am certain would love other games, but either consciously or unconsciously they’ve decided those other games feature X or Y which they hate (or they think they lack feature A or B, which they love).

And sometimes it’s not even just a lack of awareness. It’s hard to find a game that’s like EVE Online other than EVE itself, for example. If you want heavy economic focus with open PvP, you may not have a whole lot of options for games to play even if you don’t really like your one option.

6. The methadone factor

This is tied in to the last one, to a certain extent, but it’s also distinct. See, it’s quite possible that you recognize that you really want X, and the game you’re playing doesn’t provide much in the way of X. But it provides more X than any other option, so even though you hate the game, you’re going to keep playing to get that little bit of X along the way despite the diminishing returns.

Into the exceedingly well known.

7. Kamp Krusty syndrome

Picture Bart Simpson, curled up and rocking back and forth, repeating the mantra to himself: “Krusty is coming. Krusty is coming. And he’ll bring food, and water, and smite our enemies.”

These players really do hate the game right now, but there’s the vague hope that at some point in the future the game will be better in some way. Sure, everything is bad right now and there’s nothing good to say, but the next expansion or the next major patch or the next DLC or heck, even Krusty the Klown will arrive and make everything better. And then everything will… probably not be all better, realistically, but that’s still the dream.

8. Spite and nostalgia

There are times when you keep playing an MMO chiefly out of spite. This is probably not healthy, but it seems to be real all the same. Sure, you haven’t had fun in ages and the developers keep changing the game in ways you find to be materially worse… but that’s not going to drive you off. It wasn’t always this bad! You are staying here and not moving and the developers are just going to have to listen to you, eventually!

If this seems like it’s a bad idea… well, it kind of is, especially because it’s a close cousin to our next option.

I mean, if you're choosing this one...

9. Misery seekers

Some people really are only happy when it rains.

I don’t get it myself, but the evidence bears this out. Some people are at their happiest without happiness. There are people who want, more than anything, to consume things that make them angry and unhappy. This is not a failure state, even if it seems like it. The point was always to have something infuriating and misery-inducing so that these people could incessantly complain about how bad the thing is with acute vitriol.

Your best bet is to avoid these people as much as possible. There is enough awful stuff in the world without seeking out more things you’re going to hate.

10. Turns out it’s not hate!

And last but not least… well, sometimes the people you think are playing a game they hate actually don’t hate the game. There are a lot of people who have lots of complaints but also have some nice things to say, genuinely love the game, or just care enough that there’s lots to criticize. So it turns out that the problem isn’t really why these people hate the game, but why they focus on the negatives.

And sometimes the answer to that question is pretty obvious. Have you looked at Blizzard lately? It feels like Warcraft III: Reforged was years ago, I know, but that was January.

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.”

No posts to display

38
LEAVE A COMMENT

Please Login to comment
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most liked
Subscribe to:
Reader
Axetwin .

I honestly don’t know. I really really don’t like Guild Wars 2, and yet I can’t bring myself to uninstall even though I haven’t logged in, in the past 2 months. I haven’t done anything of significance in even longer. I honestly and seriously dislike this game, and I still play it every now and then and I cannot explain why.

Reader
Ald

Friends.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Ken from Chicago

Agreed. It reminds me of people who’ve bought comic book series for YEARS they hate. And getting on then GEnie or Usenet complaining about each issue. Some were completionists who liked a character and kept buying a series because the character was in it or to maintain their collection or hoping a new writer would come and save the day–variants of the reasons listed in the article.

OPUno
Reader
OPUno

That’s a very interesting post, but the fact that the word “addiction” is not on it is sketchy, sorry to say.

Reader
kjempff

If you like 51% of the game but hate 49%, do you still like it enough to play it? When is there enough crap in a game to make you take the conscious (and often hard) decision to say stop and leave.
With games that run for years, they tend to top after a few years and then it is just downhill from there…but you obviously started playing when it was good.

Yogitus
Reader
Yogitus

I think a key idea is missed here: changing lifestyles. As players get older and take on more responsibilities, the mmos they loved cannot be played in the same way they used to enjoy playing them. This can cause frustration when said player has nostalgia for raiding or significant RP, but no long has the time/ability to invest in that aspect of the game. It fundamentally changes the options available to the player, which can leave them in a state of perpetual dissatisfaction.

Unrelated comment: glad to see the staff still around and kicking :) Thanks for the read.

Reader
Utakata

I suspect number 10 is the vast majority of players who realize their games they play can be so much better, for good or bad.

Reader
Danny Smith

I think it depends on the person but a combination of addiction, sunk cost and the old “hostage guild” scenario can compound it.

The only personal experience i have is with WoW. I remember early on in Warlords of Dreanor i just stopped what i was doing and said to myself “what the hell am i doing? i’m paying rent to not have fun!” and was reminded of a now very old episode of this Podcast called The Instance that talked about addiction to videogames and some comment of “we live in the age of being able to redownload a game without having to use install discs, if you can still not think of unsubscribing and uninstalling for a week then you have a problem” and i certainly wasn’t addicted to it but that struck a tone. So i logged out. Uninstalled and unsubbed and all of a sudden i had more free time and was playing stuff i enjoyed instead with no need to go back.

Now personally thats fine. I started playing FFXIV eventually and that replaced WoW to the point 7 years later i have hours played in the fourth digit by now and i still enjoy it. But i have people i’m friends with that i played WoW with that still play it and its very clear they have not enjoyed the game for at least eight years. They hate it. They say they hate it. But they just cannot leave. They even called the 80% of the guild that left for XIV over the years “traitors” and not as a joke but in a heated way because they have this strange attachment to WoW i personally can’t quite get my head around. They don’t like it, it actively upsets them with every update but they pay monthly to still play it for no reason i can see beyond putting so much time and money in it somehow invalidates it to stop.

I’ve asked more than once if he is just going to pay monthly to not enjoy something till its servers die and i get a “maybe” after a very long pause. Personally i just don’t get it. If you hate a game move on. I know games can mean a lot but its still just a game at the end of the day. You dont play games to make yourself miserable.

Reader
Patreon Donor
Loyal Patron
Schlag Sweetleaf

.

nowhere to go wow.gif
Reader
Kickstarter Donor
mysecretid

Schlag, you are a king, and you deserve your crown, my friend!

Thank you for this! :-D

Reader
Patreon Donor
Loyal Patron
Schlag Sweetleaf

:) Danny’s story mirrors my own experience with DAoC back in the day, especially the “traitors” anecdote..brought back memories.

thanks mysecretid.

Reader
Danny Smith

The inability to deal with other people not liking the game you like and taking it as personal insult aka: REAL INTERNET PROBLEMS

MilitiaMasterV
Reader
MilitiaMasterV

I just watched that movie from this reference. It certainly pushes some agendas and boundaries (Some racism/sexism/other isms, but it is an older movie from a different time period, so taken with a grain of salt.), but I think the grander point that was made there, still seems to exist…all sorts of people with that kind of mentality, who feel trapped, and think there is no way out.

When it comes to games, there’s actually a whole dearth of them out there to try, but it’s hard to find the right one for you, and people don’t always do well with ‘change’…so they just ‘stick with what you know’.

Personally, I’ve played so many, and only really enjoyed a certain few…and often had to leave due to feeling like they weren’t improving, but I know I’ve stuck it out on a few that only aspects of bothered me, and instead tried to offer suggestions to their devs to improve them rather than just throw my hands up in despair at them…but some..you can suggest away and they refuse to change and you’re just left grumbling and want to stay because you’ve deluded yourself into hoping things will change.

I’ve been moving on lately though, and the more I see of other games, the more I recognize things they do that isn’t ‘fun’ so I’m getting better at not just sitting there grumbling about them. (Tend to thunk down a goodly portion for the ones I do enjoy, and play em till I wander away.)

Speaking of…I’m game-less currently again….been watching streamers learn how to lie and be better sociopaths on Among Us…tried to figure out how to get my mic to work again, and it seems broken. /sigh Life. So bored lately. Watching a certain streamer I enjoy every so often, but he’s taken to playing LoL (He just hit Gold II on ranked) and that game’s player-base is about as toxic as they come, even after numerous attempts to ‘clean it up’. Occasionally watch some GTA streams. I’m kind of tempted to try and create a D&D character to use in someone’s campaign and find some group to join…but people nowadays are just…keep at farther than social distanced if possible…

Reader
Patreon Donor
Loyal Patron
Schlag Sweetleaf

thank you for this, i hope you find your place out there, very much have empathy for where you’re at.

Reader
Leiloni

I’m not sure where or if this one fits into the list, but I’d say it’s because they like some things about the game and despite disliking many others, they feel like they can’t find that one thing quite in the same way anywhere else, so they stick around.

Many WoW players fit into this mold – they may love the difficult and varied raiding scene, or M+, or the smoothness of combat, or the variety of content, or of playstyles offered by the classes and specs. WoW players are some of the most whiny bunch of gamers that still stick around despite hating it so much, because for most there’s one or two things that WoW does really well that no other game can come close to doing.

And on the rare occasion they find themselves hooked on another game, they try desperately to turn that game into WoW (Ashes of Creation and to an extent FFXIV, have subgroups of their fanbases of WoW players that continually ask for or behave in ways much like WoW despite having just left that game for something different). It’s like they’re hooked on drugs because they’re still desperately searching for that one or two things they really love, just ideally in a better surrounding game.

Reader
Danny Smith

Man i have seen that “why isn’t this like it is in WoW” so many times in XIV over the years. It feels like trying to fill a void with a direct copy which i guess must be a significant enough feeling due to all the attempts at straight copies we got at the end of the 2000’s

Reader
Dean Dean

I never play a game I hate, but I do play games that are disappointing and frustrating. It’s not really about ‘problems’ with the game, it’s mostly about what isn’t there.

There’s always so much squandered potential and lack of development. Combined with the bugs and terrible players that plague every MMO, these games can quickly get on your nerves.

I continue to play whatever peaks my interest. I know I’ll be bored and frustrated, but there’s always something to appreciate.