The Daily Grind: Do you miss free return events in MMORPGs?

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Eliot was writing a piece about Final Fantasy XI’s return home event a week or two ago and I suddenly had a pang of nostalgia – not for FFXI, which I never really got into, but for the idea of MMO freebie events period.

Most MMORPGs are now at least partly free-to-play, and I have to say that at least for accessibility reasons that’s a good thing (for monetization and creativity, not so much, but that’s a rant for another post). But when most of them were locked behind a sub, they had good reasons to turn on everyone’s accounts for free from time to time. And those events always created windows of opportunity to return in big clustered groups of friends and potential friends.

That wasn’t just good for the studios in terms of potential customers roped back into the ecosystem; it was a coordinated invitation for the good kind of invasion. I mean, you can hold a party any night of the week; no one’s stopping you, and that takes some of the fun out of it. But when there’s that one good one where everyone’s gonna be there, it has magic and sparkle. And that’s how free return events always felt. It was always for a game my crew hadn’t played for a while, and suddenly we had a good reason to go back as a group. And sometimes that blossomed into a more permanent residency and we’d get hooked again.

Do you miss free return events in MMORPGs?

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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No. I roll my eyes at this ‘lure’ ploy/scam/marketing tactic. It’s just a way to get you to ‘re-find the magic’ so you’ll start paying them again. Usually I’ve stopped paying them for a reason…

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As a person who turns on a sub, plays for a couple of days, and then stops again, wasting the other 27 days, it’s not the cost that’s the barrier.


Such events were never relevant to me. I don’t play as part of a guild or extended group. As such, I tend to leave games because either I’ve “finished” them (in whatever way that definition seems to fit) or because the game has changed to the point where I’m no longer interested in playing it at all.

Either way, I’ve stopped playing because I’m done with the game and have moved on. (Perhaps not as cleanly as I should, since there’s a couple where I’ll still get overly excited when someone mentions them. But none that I’d start playing again.)


…I don’t even bother to follow them. As I’ll return to a game when I am ready to return to it. So no marketing ploy is needed here.


Not really. MMOs, for me, aren’t really games to play with friends, but rather games to play with random strangers, so there’s no “reuniting the old gang” benefit for me to get from free return events.

Why random strangers and not friends? Vertical progression. I don’t find it fun to play with others if I’m either ahead or behind them on the progression curve, which is kinda inevitable when trying to play with friends; thus, I tend to only play with random strangers that are at the same place in the game progression as I am.

(As for what I play with friends: games without progression. Racing games, fighting games, party games, board games, and so on; as long as there’s absolutely no power progression that persists outside the current match, I’m game.)


I mean, you can hold a party any night of the week; no one’s stopping you, and that takes some of the fun out of it. But when there’s that one good one where everyone’s gonna be there, it has magic and sparkle.

As an introvert, and one that doesn’t drink and can’t stand inebriated people, your analogy doesn’t just miss the mark for me, it points the opposite direction. A small house party, with just a few friends, is something I really enjoy; the big ones where “everyone’s gonna be there”, on the other hand, I avoid like the plague, and even if I do go to one out of a sense of obligation, I will leave as soon as people start drinking regardless of who I will insult by ditching it early.

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Paragon Lost

I like them for the fact that it gives me a chance to refresh why I left and to see if they’ve done things that would mitigate why I left and maybe get me to resub. I wish they were something that was a standard.

Been gone a year and they’d send you an email with a code to retry the mmo for two weeks free. Basically a 2 week free subscription that gave you full access to the game. Two weeks give you enough time to reacquaint yourself with the game and explore it.

Danny Smith

Well i play FFXIV as my primary mmo and they seem to fart out a return event of some kind every other month so not like i’ve missed it as much as shilled it to friends.

Did stuff like WoW ever even do return events? most seem to just do the recruit a friend hustle instead.

Jaymes Buckman

Their last was a few months ago.

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As free return events are just that events, then unless you stopped playing because for some reason you didn’t have time or money to keep playing at the time then they make zero difference. They do not fix any of the issues you may have had, or remove any of the reasons you chose to leave (Except as previously mentioned).

So no, not really. They have a purpose sure, but once you’ve left, the whole “come back and play for a free weekend” etc.. is not much incentive to return again for anything other than nostalgia, or being reminded of WHY you left in the first place heh.