Between KTR’s post about MMOs charging subscriptions for content, and Syp’s post about MMOs claiming to re-invent the wheel and what may or may not be foolhardy about that, I’ve had a lot of food for thought over the past couple of days, and done more commenting than I usually do. So, I says to myself, self, I should probably slink away to my blog and continue here.
The beta testing and gaming I’ve been doing recently has helped me learn more about my tastes WRT MMOs (and I’m still learning): my reticence to maintain subscriptions has always had to do with feeling compelled to play, which, to others, might merely be a sign that I don’t enjoy a game as much as I should – and in some cases, as with LOTRO, it’s certainly true.
But I keep coming back to the sub-1000 hours I’ve spent playing my most favoritest game in the whole wide world, Guild Wars, over the past five years. I have literally played this game as much as I can stand, and enjoyed 99.8% of it – the only times I don’t enjoy it are when I end up having to repeat missions to get to the next nugget of story, or when I actually do dip into the grind/farm in order to acquire that elite armor, or that minipet, or that faction tier. That’s when I find myself playing for hours a night for, say, a week, and then leaving for a month because I need some time to myself.
There is so much I haven’t done in Guild Wars. I’ve never seen the inside of an elite dungeon. I haven’t finished the Titan quest chain. I most certainly haven’t Vanquished more than a few small squares of any given continent. I will never play any aspect of the game enough to get T1 Friend of the Luxons/Kurzicks.
But I love this game. I adore it, I think about it, I blog about it, I read the lore and I pitch it to every person I come across who might seem the slightest bit inclined to computer gaming. But ultimately I haven’t logged on since I completed Hearts of the North, and I’m really okay with that. I didn’t have to cancel my subscription, and I don’t feel that GW has somehow let me down because I didn’t have anything to do but “grind” after I was finished. I’ll be back when the next part of the story continues, and so on.
The subscription mentality, naturally, resists the prospect of a game being “finished”, because a) for most people the game isn’t the story, and b) because why pay a subscription for content that ends?
Well, why, indeed?
I’d been feeling mildly guilty about signing up for and playing betas and other things that fill the void for me between content bursts in GW and news about GW2 – and its eventual release - but I think I’ve been going about it the wrong way, approaching it from a viewpoint not my own. If I don’t mind that GW’s content has an endpoint, there’s no need for me to feel guilty about not logging in each day to chase carrots in which I have no interest, and in addition, there’s no subscription compelling me to do it.
Similarly, if I’m okay with leaving GW intermittently, there’s no need for me to feel I must remain “loyal” to GW and only play other games as a stopgap between GW updates. So what if I want to buy Rift when it comes out? So what if I want to buy DC Universe Online?
What if the people who only subscribe to WoW long enough to reach max level, then return to level through an expansion, and unsubscribe again, have it right? Is it so wrong, is it such a failure of the game, indeed, of the genre, to do that?
I am not in any way suggesting that the genre move entirely toward this sort of model just because it suits me. I will admit to having no solution for those unsatisfied with the model, because I do not crave what they crave. What would an MMO that didn’t heavily feature the endless pursuit of higher numbers and more bars to fill up look like, if it does not already exist in games like EVE or Darkfall or A Tale in the Desert, or if it did not explictly claim that it has a story that ends, such as A Secret World or Guild Wars 2?