Reasons to leave MMOs

We all do it: At some point we leave a MMO. Maybe we stop with the MMO entirely, make a break or switch to another MMO. The reasons can be many. In most cases very subjective reasons which are at that point important to us. Not worthy to others. But why is it so hard to leave sometimes? Or when it is very easy?

I have played many different MMOs now. From free to play to subscription, from classic RPG to (for the lack of a better term) Asia-grinders. Most of them were actually fun but at some point I stopped playing them entirely. Looked for something new or got back to an old game. Lets look at the point I believe is easier to explain first: When is it very easy to leave a MMO.

All MMOs I have stopped playing I left for one or more of the below reasons. In parentheses I try to name my personal example game.

  • Game breaking bugs (Scions of Fate)
  • Weak or cheap production value (Ragnarok 2, Digimon)
  • Missing or bad story telling (Guild Wars 2, Lord of the rings Online)
  • Senseless grinding (Aion, Rift)
  • Because of gameplay mechanics (Guild Wars 2)
  • Annoying Community (World of Warcraft)

Except for the last item its all stuff that could be fixed, in theory. You can fix a bug, improve the storytelling, deliver a more compelling story with the next update, adapt the gameplay mechanics to player demand, etc. But you cannot fix a community. If you end up with players or a whole community where you don’t feel like you belong to, where you just don’t fit in then nothing can be done and you will ultimately leave the game behind pretty fast.

If something bothers you in a game but all other factors are fine to you and you can still enjoy the game then you will most likely stay. Its a typical balance game: fun vs. drudgery. As long as it is fun especially when you can play with nice people together you will stay longer. But if the game turns into drudgery or annoying people you will shut it pretty fast. After all you want to play the game for fun, not for a second job.

I believe the above points can be easily understood and everyone experienced one or another already. Such factors can drive us to log out for the last time. But on the opposite there are situations where you do not want to leave. Even if the game already aged and you did more or less everything the game got to over at this point. You just cannot leave. But why?

In most cases I say its the people you play with: Your friends, the guild and the community. Social connections make you stay. You don’t want to leave people behind. It can feel like abandoning a circle of friends. You experienced joy and sorrow with them. You lived trough pale days and sunny mornings with these people. You laughed, shed tears and maybe some of them turned into real life friends. This social bond is maybe the strongest factor over all why people stay in a MMO.

The second factor is your personal connection to your character. A game that creates a bond between the player and his character did something right in my opinion. We invested time and hard work into our character. Our character is who he is because of us. We are proud he made it trough the main story, became a hero, attained certain achievements and acquired epic equipment. Leaving the game would mean to say good bye to our character. Leave him to collect dust. Hell, it actually feels like we press the delete button. We played and invested months and years and now shall leave it behind? This can be tough and I am guilty too. I have yet to cease my Final Fantasy XI subscription which I barely use any more because I am mainly playing Final Fantasy XIV now. ^^

There are sometimes good reasons to leave a game behind. Log out for the last time. Never look back. On the other side of the coin we can see many reasons too for staying or why we actually are being held back. Cutting the rope can be difficult. The most important aspect of all is that we take something away from it. An experience, we learned something, we moved ahead. At least that is how I feel.

What made you leave a game? Or why are you still playing it?

This post was inspired by Matt Miller: Why Do Players Leave MMOs?

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