MMOWTF: Quitters Never Win... But Why Do They Quit?

by Dan Fortier,MMORPG.COM

Dan Fortier returns this week to talk about his take on why players quit their games
Editor's Note: This is an edition of a weekly column by Staff Writer Dan Fortier. The column is called "MMOWTF" and will look at some of the stranger or more frustrating events in MMOs as seen by Mr. Fortier. The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of, its staff or management.

What an exciting week! I managed to wipe an entire hard drive of games (also deleting this week's article) and turned my motherboard into a Pentium BBQ. There nothing like inviting your friends over for some toasted ATI and smoked RAM while waiting for the local Fire Dept to hose off your smoldering tower case. Something good did come of the whole tragedy though, since this week's topic is suitably mired in that angst: What makes people quit games?

Not being one for gank and tells, I usually have a dim view of MMO hoppers that move from game to game without even getting their feet wet. It's not like the genre really fits that type of temperament either. Can you imagine grouping with someone with an "I don't have all minute" attitude? How can any game that requires hundred of hours of mostly repetitive content attract gamers with the attention span of a dope fiend?

You can't even read any in-game chat or forums without seeing someone who feels the need to tell everyone in /shouting distance that they are quitting. For sanity's sake I'm just going to focus on the people who can give a somewhat intelligible reason for giving up. I've mentally sorted through all the valid reasons I can ever remember hearing and I'd thought I'd share the top three with you today.

They changed ______ completely!

I addressed the reasons why gamers don't like major changes in a previous article, but it bears mentioning that while major changes can be bad for a game, players expect a certain level of stability in a game that requires such a massive investment of time. It's a tricky and sometimes impossible job of deciding which changes will be in the best interests if the game while keeping the customer happy. This ties in nicely with my second reason:

None of my friends/guild mates/victims play anymore!

Anytime something causes a powerful/popular person or clan to leave, it causes a ripple effect across the entire server. While their opponents may be encouraged to become more active it also creates a fun vacuum. Lots of people play MMOs for the community whether they realize it or not. Even people who prefer to solo would notice the difference pretty quick if all of the players were replaced by bot NPCs. The real strength of the genre is that people who you don't interact with on a regular basis can still impact your game experience. When a group that was active leaves its effects are rarely positive.

There is nothing else to do.

Even games with a scope as wide as MMOs eventually succumb to their age. No matter how many new areas, mobs, spells, raids or loot you add players will lose interest after the parts of the game they enjoy become stale. This can be countered to some extent by well designed dynamic goals and robust character diversity, but eventually this becomes a main reason even the hardcore fans begin to look for greener raid pastures. The games that are successful will always find way to keep a steady flow of new players to offset this.

Taking a look at the major reasons that players leave can help designers avoid the pitfalls that can make a game hemorrhage subscriptions and go a long way toward find cost effective ways of keeping them, but then again it's not like people need a good reason to jump ship for the next shiny beta on the horizon.

I'm going to have to cut this week short now, so save your plastic beads for a more festive occasion. Remember the forum is for sharing and that sharing is caring. Till next week.

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