I have not really been playing MMOs much for the past three months. I went on a trip for a week and had lost the urge when I came back. I am reminded of Heavy Metal and You, in which our protagonist gives up smoking for a couple of months then finds himself unable to stand the taste of them. “How did I get started on this?”
One thing is that there is nothing new under the sun. I have already killed that rat twenty thousand times, although sometimes he was named “goblin prowler” or perhaps “rock monster.” Rats, wolves, and giants usually do about the same things, with different models and different number values. It is the problem of procedural content: you may never run out of missions in City of Villains, but eventually you realize that the newspaper only has four or five options, and half of them are pretty much the same. “Guys, do you want to beat up Archon Fontaine, steal the plans from the Council, or beat up Archon Morena?”
As in single player games, the difference between easy mode and hard mode is just the numbers involved. This monster is epic because he has 15000 hit points instead of 1500. Maybe my Civilization IV subjects start rebelling earlier or my Warhammer 40,000® Dawn of War™: Dark Crusade™ enemies now do 50% more damage. There is no reward for doing it the hard way except knowing that you did; you can always make your own hard way by adding your own restrictions; and in single player games you are always just a quick cheat code away from easy mode when bored or frustrated.
When your character is nerfed, you are in much the same position. Your powers still look the same as yesterday, but now they do 10% less damage, or 1/3 of the enemies now have 25% resistance against it, or enemies drop 12.5% less gold, or your trade skill now has a negative return. In one sense you can do everything you could before, but you range of effectiveness just fell. If you clear the right threshold, the character changes dramatically, say if your wizard can no longer drop enemies before they get to him or your health regeneration is 5% less than your enemy’s DPS rather than 5% more.