What Is Wrong with MMOs

To return to not making your content fun, I believe MMO content should be designed on a scale. On one end you have rewards, and on the other end you have fun. The more fun said content, the less rewarding it should be, while the less fun something is, the more rewarding it needs to be to stay viable/relevant.
— SynCaine, Fun vs Reward

In terms of designing a subscription-based game that retains players and makes efficient use of content, it makes a kind of sense to design a Skinner Box that rewards your players for spending time on the least fun content. This is where Moloch drives MMOs.

Pay to play a game designed to minimize fun per hour. The main thing we seem to learn from playing MMOs is that you will have more fun not playing MMOs.

: Zubon

4 thoughts on “What Is Wrong with MMOs”

  1. Would need to break down ‘fun’ for this to make any sense other than in a superficial way (sure, the only reason I would do something unfun is because I either have no choice, the rewards are good, or I am part of a social group that wants to do it — and even then it depends HOW unfun because there are some things you really couldn’t pay me to do. That is true iRL and also in games, although in games you do have the option to play something else.).

    But the main flaw is that different people find different things fun, so by this dogma that means they should be rewarded at different levels (like I don’t enjoy PvP so I should get awesome rewards even for losing to encourage me to do it?)

    And the other flaw is making some assumptions around intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation which aren’t unpacked fully. So fun can be an intrinsic motivation – external rewards definitely aren’t.

  2. I mean, if you don’t like MMOs you shouldn’t play MMOs, and if indeed overall your gaming life is better jumping from one non-MMO game to another, that works too.

    But if you do like MMOs, the ‘real’ ones, you should want the game to last. A good MMO isn’t one where everyone says its awesome the first month because they are maxed out on fun, and then are gone the next month because of ‘burnout’. Few MMOs in the genre’s history have gotten this right, and the results are in front of all of us.

  3. The problem with modern PC MMOs is this. Rewards should never be reduced. The entire Psychology behind playing MMOs is based on the feeling of reward from accomplishing something. Loot is central to that structure. When you find good things that are rewards for your efforts you’ll do that effort more often and your fun factor increases and you stay with the game longer. Since 2011 multiple titles tried alternative billing models which incidentally required that they start to police the loot structure from their players. Every single game that has had this done to it has lost players en masse. Every single one. It should be mentioned that one of them is on the decline right now as we speak having only hundreds of players on each server now that the real evidence has been released on membership and active players. They have such a low turn out and it’s directly due to their loot structure requiring that you do repeatable things only during certain events and only if you have a lucky account will you see such loot. GW2 is the game I’m talking about.

    However the evidence doesn’t stop there it’s simply one of the most recent to succumb to the terrible design of loot policing. Diablo III had it’s early years nearly grinding to a halt because of it’s RMTAH design for it’s economic model. They lost 60% of their player base almost overnight because of their terrible decision to limit loot acquisition particularly from elite groups and bosses. When they did that they told the players “that you don’t deserve the loot rewards because it would affect our bottom line” which is exactly what’s happening right now in John Smith’s office of Arenanet. They seem to think that the only way to make money is to keep the failed TP alive to require players to buy gold in order to progress in gear despite countless live examples otherwise of a healthy MMO with plenty of profits from shops. The D3 team prior to launching their expansion decided to change their loot system to allow players to gain loot properly when fighting tougher enemies, they also eliminated their RMTAH because it was destroying their game. When they did that they not only regained the players they lost but they also got about a million more and it’s been going on ever since.

    So when I see people speculate about what fun is I have to point out the facts. Numerous psychological studies have been performed on this genre of gaming and it always finds the same thing. When you have a strong reward system in your title people will play longer because of the need to feel rewarded for your time. It’s really not that difficult to see.

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