The Daily Grind: What tends to happen before you leave an MMO?

The Daily Grind: What tends to happen before you leave an MMO?

For me, there’s a very predictable indicator that I’m going to be waving goodbye to an MMO for a while: I realize I don’t care. I’m pushing on progress and whatever form of content I’ve chosen to focus on in the game before it happens, always, and there comes a moment when I just think about what I’m trying to accomplish and what progress I’m seeking to make… and I realize I don’t care. I don’t care about getting further or advancing whatever. I just don’t care. That means it’s about time for me to stop trying.

I’m curious if it’s the same for others or not. I could believe that for other people, it’s a moment of realizing that the activities are just too annoying. Maybe it’s realizing that the next patch will make your preferred playstyle less fun. Or maybe there isn’t even a unified theme, just lots of individual stories about games that had you and then lost you. But what tends to happen before you leave an MMO? How do you personally know it’s time to stop playing the MMO in question?

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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Casper Casper

When I look at the time and I’ve only been in game for an hour or two instead of six or eight or twelve.

Vincent S

I have the exact same feeling. At some point it just hits me that I’m doing all of this for no discernible benefit and that I would need to spend an ungodly amount of time to continue progressing. At that point I stop caring.

Usually, it’s when the grind really hits home:

When I hit 900+ in D3 and I’m 8% away from top dps for my barb but I know that I have 500 hours to cut that in half (at which point I’ve given the top person another 500+ hours to move further ahead).

In WoW it was clearing MC then BWL and hitting a hall waiting for the AQ xpac. Climbing the PVP ladder then realizing it was just another grind, and one I didn’t really care about.

In PoE it was unlocking the Atlas and moving up the map ranks and then chasing down the Elder and Shaper and then realizing I just don’t care and quitting the same day.

Currently playing Wolcen. Had first melee character to 72. Realized it didn’t have xpac enabled. Started a caster and up to lvl 58 at the moment and climbing the expedition ladder. Around expedition level 100-110 it will hit me again and I will quit. I already know it is going to happen…

Whistler Aven

For me it’s when I can’t ignore the design patterns any more. The moment that is see it’s all just variations of a specific theme I have a moment of “what am I doing with my life?”

For WoW it was fetch quests as I leveled my character (this was years ago), for GW2 it was exploring new areas to do the same handful of missions only in a new place, etc.

If I see your design philosophy and its simple and repetitive, you’ve lost me.

Franklin Adams

For me it’s usually one of two things, if the circumstances if my life change drastically or if the main activities I undertake are eliminated. The second is why I quit STO, I used to play every day for at least an hour before I went to bed, but I primarily played Foundry missions. As soon as Cryptic got rid of the foundry, I quit playing the game. I came back for the pointless 10th Anniversary and that was it. I don’t think I’ll be coming back unless a miracle were to occur and we get the Foundry back, but Cryptic has never brought back anything they abandon so I don’t think that’ll ever happen. Which sucks, Foundry missions and series like Purity, Photonomy, SSF, AEI, and Trident were some of the best things about that game, and I don’t feel like playing in Cryptic’s missions as their writing is nowhere near as good as the better Foundry authors were.

The other reason I quit playing MMOs is if the circumstances of my life drastically change, basically why I quit playing WoW. I was in the Army when I was really into it, I got deployed to Afghanistan in 2007-2008 and I got injured pretty severely (not combat, it was an accident, I’m lucky to be alive but if I had been a little more careful it wouldn’t have happened and I’d probably be in the Army still), I wound up being medboarded and discharged. When I got home my physically and emotionally abusive multiple substance abusing wife left me for a Soldier in my unit’s HHC in their rear D who she’d been fucking (she wound up doing the same thing to him) and this guy was someone I played WoW with a lot, so I really didn’t want anything to do with the game and haven’t played since. I’ve considered coming back but it’s still something a little too raw for me and a reminder of a time in my life I’d rather forget so I dunno.


What happens when I leave an MMO? Usually almost nothing. No forum tantrums, no “I’m leaving and you can’t have my stuff!” posts. So far, what mostly happens is that when I’m deciding how to spend my gaming/entertainment time, the game in question just keeps slipping farther and farther down the list.

“Oh, I guess I could log into SWTOR and do dailies. Or I could play Ark and try to tame the giganotosaurus that’s been skulking around near my base. I think I’ll tame the Giga first.”

“I haven’t done dailies in Swtor in a while. But I think I’d rather play Space Engineers and try to get the gattling turret on the east side of the valley working again. Hopefully before the NPC “Research Station” sends another wave of attack drones.”

“I really should do those dailies in Swtor at some point. But first, I want to try out the new ‘frame they just released in Warframe. I really like the way she looks, and her powers seem interesting.”

“Huh. I haven’t logged into Swtor in six months. Why am I still paying for a subscription again? I’m going to go cancel that, I can always resub when I feel like playing again.”

“You know, I haven’t played Swtor in like two years. Maybe I should delete it and free up a couple of hundred megabytes of hard drive space.”


There are different ways for that to happen.

The most common is when I find myself without any activity that I really want to play, often because I’ve already gotten bored with all the content I can currently get to that I found intrinsically fun or engaging. This usually doesn’t take into account rewards, mind; if I would have stopped playing a certain bit of content lacking any reward after going through it five times, I would still stop playing it after five times even if it was changed to have the best rewards in the game.

Also, exclusivity. If the game ever makes some content or reward I truly want impossible to obtain or engage with anymore there’s a good chance this will push me towards leaving the game. Even if what I missed is something I don’t care about in the least it still prevents me from ever emotionally investing in the game. This is something I feel so strongly about that I openly support pirating games, and even DLCs, that can’t be legally obtained anymore.

A third, less common way is when I feel needed. I absolutely don’t want anyone else to depend on me, as it creates a strong incentive for me to keep playing even after I would be better off leaving, so if I ever feel like a person or a group depends on me, and I for some reason can’t break that dependency while still enjoying the game, then I will immediately leave.


I lose interest in leading others.

Thats very bad, because I was guild leader and/or raid leader! But, when the game starts to get boring, or gets dumbed down through a patch/xpac, I’ll just stop taking an interest in leadership roles. I’ll probably still lead raids, but I’ll stop running other group content, stop leading pvp groups, stop running training sessions for new guildies.

Whenever I spotted this problem, I’d usually try to find a replacement guild leader, as the person at the top really needs to be highly motivated, otherwise it has a terrible knock-on effect for the whole guild.


When I can no longer my breath, entertainment wise.

I think MMO players have become increasingly sensitive and consciously aware of the grind vs entertainment curve.

Ages ago, it was just goddamned fun to be running around doing WHATEVER…I mean wow! I’m a (whatever) doing (something) was just so amazing.

(I think this viewpoint is still pretty universal for new MMO players, whatever age.)

…but the rest of us (ie most people reading this) have become pretty jaded.

We’ve seen vast beautiful fantasy or sci fi architecture, landscapes, and a varying collection of creature types fewer only than perhaps in Spore (and that’s all dongers anyway).

We’ve seen nearly every permutation of tab-target, action combat, advancement tree mechanics, cooldown/resource management, ability or class synergies, etc so there is very, very frisson of novelty that anymore manages to cover the only-slightly-camouflaged Skinner Boxes that MMOs are today.

….my point being that we’re left with a fairly cold rational calculus of ‘is doing this fun NOW?’ and maybe a rationalization of ‘to get that THING I WANT ™ for (reason), the grind will be approximately X hours, is it worth suspending my actual entertainment expectations for that span to get it?”

When I find myself no longer able to hold my breath, rationalizing “this sucks, but I will put up with it for a certain amount of time to get where/what I want” then I’m done.


None of my Spore critters were sentient dongs. I tried very hard to make interesting looking things. Not always original, since I had one that was basically the kaiju from Cloverfield, and another that was shamelessly based on the Deep Crow from the Penny Arcade comics. But at least interesting. But then, I didn’t like the Sporepedia much, and I don’t think I ever uploaded anything to it. :/


When it feels like work. WoW dailies are a great example of that. If the reason I’m logging in is because I *HAVE* to do a thing today that I did yesterday and will do tomorrow, it’s no longer a game, it’s a job.

The biggest indicator for me is when I hover my mouse over the icon then pause, hesitating, glancing at other game icons…the moment I do that, I realize my time in that game is coming to an end.


Pretty similar to Eliot. I think, “What am I doing? Why am I wasting time with this nonsense? What is it FOR?” and that’s very much a by-product of no longer caring about the story, the mechanics, or anything else that previously had me interested in playing. I find such feelings come faster and faster in MMOs these days. Nearly always within the first month. Sometimes even within the first week or two.