I missed the original Twitter Q&A posed by @AlternativeChat asking what would tempt people back to Azeroth/WoW, but I’ve seen a couple of blog posts about it since. (Deliver Me) and (It’s Always Been a Matter of Trust) I have to say that I honestly don’t know what, if anything, would bring me back to WoW.
I did give a comeback a try with the Panda content. I didn’t get my money’s worth, not even making it to the max level with one character. If I could put my finger on why, I think it was their insistence on making me slog around on the ground dodging mobs again. Either embrace flight in your game or don’t…
For me, the glory days of WoW are closely tied to being in an active and fun guild, doing content together on a regular basis. We were mutual alt-aholics, trying out different roles to keep things fresh when raiding with a particular type of class got old (for some). We did that for several years, but then there was a shift in design that made the gear treadmill much less fun for alt-aholics. When the old gang broke up and went their separate ways; some tried out different games, some let Real Life take hold, WoW lost the shine. I stuck with it longer than most of my game friends, longer than I should have, but without those friends of old, there is nothing left for me in Azeroth.
A good group of people could lure me back to any game I think, but only if I know they will stick with it long enough so we get to play the content, then get the gear, maybe level some alts too for good measure, and do content that gets us together regularly. Do I wish I could regain those glory days in WoW and have the old gang back together having fun; yes I do. Do I think it will ever happen, or that I’ll have the motivation to find a new gang; no I don’t.
MMOs have the potential to hold my attention longer than most standalone games, but like a standalone game, eventually they come to feel like I’ve seen it all, done it all, and there is nothing new to see and do. Regardless of what the designers put in to try and give us “fresh” or “new” content, it inevitably feels like we are doing the same thing in a different wrapper. Nature of the genre and the activity/reward cycle it presents…
What baffles me is how often game design puts in mind-numbing repetitive content that players “should” do in order to support their end game activities. Some of the guild achievements in WoW, 10,000 fish *shudder* comes to mind, were NOT fun group activities. We did them because we wanted the reward, but once we were done, I doubt many of us felt anything other than horror over how much of our time/money we wasted.
I suppose a game that made it easy to come back and dust off again, much the way I do with standalone games that I have enjoyed, might get me back playing. So far with MMOs, that just isn’t the case. I always feel like I’m seriously behind the power curve and the goals I’m asked to reach require more commitment than a “dust off and replay” can support. Quite often the class I knew how to play has changed quite a bit in the interim. The eternal tweaks for game balance make me sad/mad. For some games, it is just that there has been so much content released since I last updated, that by the time the game has patched, I’ve already run out of time in my window of opportunity. Yeah, I know this sounds like a need for instant gratification, but it is just another thing that sets MMOs apart from standalone games that I’ve replayed.
In truth, I’m not sure if an MMO can draw me back once I’ve tired of the particular flavors of “treadmill” that it presents. Each game system has an activity/reward cycle and eventually, the motivation versus boredom factor will degrade the experience. This counts for end game content, crafting, farming, anything that requires us to acquire things in order to reach goals. Games that put in a lot of busy work probably aren’t doing themselves any favors where I am concerned, but they do appeal to a certain type of player. Even riding a giant flaming ball over irradiated gnomes can get old, although it takes a long time for that to happen.