I have changed my mind completely. For most people, MMOs are horrible entertainment value for their cost. This is by design: the mechanics stretch the content across the maximum time possible, rather than deliver the fun in the most efficient and effective way. The money cost is cents per hour, but the time cost per entertainment unit is far larger than in other forms of entertainment.
My marginal cost per book read is approximately $0 plus however many hours it takes to read the book. I have a library, I have an internet full of public domain classics, and I get some free review copies: I could read for my entire life without paying a dollar. Even if I bought every book, though, the major cost would be the time spent reading. I promise you that it takes me less time to earn the money for a paperback than it does to read it. When I decide if a book was “worth it,” I mean worth the time spent reading it. If the author engages in self-indulgent rambling and/or takes 1000 pages when he has only 200 pages of story, more than half my time was wasted, when I could have been reading something where every page was worthwhile.
Sometimes, I am in the mood for that ramble. Maybe I really like that author’s style, or I want to see how she fits the world together. Some people would have been quite happy for Twilight to last another 1000 pages, even without more content, just so they could spend more time with Edward Cullen. And if you are the equivalent of that for MMOs, if you really do like repeating farm-status raids three times a week, killing ten thousand rats, or otherwise repeating the same task a hundred times to get a +1 on your character sheet, great: almost the entire MMO industry is designed for you. Hey, sometimes you want mindless repetition.
Increasingly, I do not want to crawl through barbed wire for my entertainment or spend an hour wringing the drops of fun from the latest time sponge. This does not mean that entertainment cannot be challenging or that everything must be spoon-fed. It means no filler. Most of the spoon-fed content has a lot of filler anyway, and the last thing I need is to spend a lot of time wallowing in the relative depths of an intellectual thimble.
As the first three examples that come to mind, Portal is therefore one of the most time-to-entertainment efficient games ever, Frantic is similarly rewarding, and The Lord of the Rings Online™ Volume Two: Mines of Moria™ does a great job with worthwhile 50-60 content that moves at a good clip. Mines of Moria™ does that one better, having a post-60 game that is the nigh-endless grind for those who really like that kind of thing
I am willing to pay twice as much if you can deliver the same value in half the time.