The migratory patterns of MMO gamers
Nikki Rau-Baker's "Star Wars: The Old Republic" character, Talie, a Sith sorcerer, shows off her lightsaber on Nar Shaddaa.
January 31st, 2012
10:51 AM ET

The migratory patterns of MMO gamers

Darnassus is a little quieter these days, as are Silverwood and Galtrev. The virtual watering holes are changing once again.

The latest and greatest massively multiplayer online role-playing game (abbreviated as MMORPG or MMO) on the block is "Star Wars: The Old Republic."  And according to unscientific numbers based on crowdsourcing from gamers, even since the beta of  this much anticipated game was released, some of the other major MMOs - including "World of Warcraft," ("WoW") "Rift" and "Lord of the Rings Online" ("LOTRO") - have seen a steady decline in player activity.

In December, people from my guild in "LOTRO" excitedly discussed what kinds of "Star Wars" characters they’d like to play as the "Star Wars: The Old Republic" launch date loomed. Soon after, several of them left "LOTRO" to play the new game full-time, even some of the officers and the guild founder.

I watched my “logged in friends” panel get smaller and smaller and wondered if they would come back or if they had moved on for good.

Players switching games isn’t uncommon - as trends come and go, so do the crowds of adoring fans. But any record of their movement from game to game is still something of a secret.

In the months leading up to the release, "WoW" saw a dip in its subscription numbers from 12 million down to 10.3 million.  Yes, 10.3 million is still a substantial amount of subscribers for any game. By comparison, the last subscriber numbers listed for "Rift" were just over 1 million. Yet when "Star Wars: The Old Republic" launched, it did so with a subscriber base of 1 million.

Those statistics don't exactly show who's moving where in the MMO world. It doesn't help that game developers like to play subscription numbers close to the vest. Jim Drewry and Adam Mersky, the vice president of digital publishing and director of digital communications, respectively, for Warner Bros. Entertainment (the company that owns "LOTRO" and whose parent company, Time Warner also owns CNN), laughed when asked about their subscription specifics.

“We’ll just say we’re huge, but we don’t really share too much in the way of numbers. We are adding new players every day.”

Gaming companies know that players will move on for new games. “We know players don’t stay ‘married’ to one game anymore," Drewry said.  "These days, players float between games more and more, but what we’re seeing is that when they come back, they usually bring friends with them.”

With social media, gamers can interact with each other and reps from their favorite games in ways they never could before, even five years ago. Mersky says gaming companies such as Turbine are “constantly evolving how to communicate with people in ways like Twitter and Facebook. It’s no longer just going to the forums.”

Twitter stats portray this very real change in how gamers interact with the games they play: "WoW" has 177K followers, "LOTRO": 25K, "Rift": 27K and "Star Wars: The Old Republic": 156K.

Cameron Cockman, a longtime gamer known as Brushfire, is one of those social, migrating gamers. For almost the last decade, he moved from MMO to MMO with some of the same people, most recently from "LOTRO" to "Star Wars: The Old Republic." He attributes community as a main draw of new games.

“If I buy a console game, I can play that until I’ve (accomplished) everything (in the game).  With an MMO, even if I’ve done everything, I still have friends and people I’ve met to keep me coming back.," Cockman said.

"I’ve always said, you buy an MMO for the game mechanics, but you keep playing because of the people.”

People build relationships in MMOs through running the same quests, joining a guild or hanging out in the same areas of the game. Players might start in a beta version of a game together and choose an MMO server based on the suggestion of people they’ve never even met in real life. Following the lead of someone who may have befriended you while you were collecting rat tails or looking for a particular treasured object is a unique situation that exists in MMOs.

I’m as guilty of changing games as anyone else.  I’ve tried several of the major MMOs and most recently started playing "Star Wars: The Old Republic."  I am still very active in "LOTRO" (I’m a Founder and have a lifetime subscription), but as strange as it might sound, it feels different in "LOTRO now." The surroundings are the same, the quests are the same, but because I no longer have the same camaraderie of my longtime questing partners, it’s a bit empty.

Mersky and Drewry are keenly aware of the social aspect of MMOs. They’ve seen people meet and get married in the game, among other things.  "We’ve had people pass away in real life, and players will hold funerals for their character.  The relationship gets deeper as people play the game,” Mersky said.

So the questions arose in my mind: Can you play two MMOs and still have time for other things in life? If not, what does the choice come down to?  Do you play the game that you’ve been playing and that you know well, or do you strike off into a brave new world to spend time with your friends? What is more important to you, content or friendship?

Share your thoughts below.

soundoff (118 Responses)
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  3. Comstrike

    Curious thing, is in the time since this was first published, I've seen the population on Landroval (LOTRO) rebound, and most of our SWTOR players revert back to Middle-earth now that they've rushed the "content." SWTOR doesn't have as much depth as some of us thought, and we are waiting for RP and social friend features that didn't make launch.

    Both are great games, but SWTOR isn't the world-ending game some think. It is however, another worthy addition to the genre.

    April 10, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
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  7. Buzzzzzz

    There goes a bee.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  8. Jared

    *chuckle*Once again, I'm automatically dfleuasiiiqd from the beta because I work in games. It might be nice someday to get a non-gaming job so I can actually enjoy games more.

    March 5, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  9. Bah

    I still prefer MUDs.

    February 12, 2012 at 8:45 am |
  10. Schmuz

    I have been playing mmos since original Everquest when I was younger and carefree. I still play mmos even now that I am older with a few more things to care about. Balance isn't tough because I can play during the week with my spouse and we have the weekends to do other things. I loved EQ, WOW, LOTRO, Rift and now Star Wars even if it isn't as amazing as some of my die hard friends made it out to be in the build up. I have a Founder, Lifetime account to LOTRO so I can always slip back in when I want to...Middle Earth is still the most beautifully rendered world I have seen brought to life yet, tho the mind-numbing desert background of Tatooine was my first major appreciation of TOR and comes in a close second. I have friends I have made in mmos but I am not currently playing tor with anyone I played with in Rift or LOTRO or Warcraft or EQ. I played Warcraft for years and there are any number of things I am unhappy about in that game but when they announce their new mmo, I will probably check it out...unless it has a bunch of micro transactions, I dislike them and only tolerated them in lotro because I shelled out the money to have a permanent account all those years ago so I get points for free. People will always be die-hards and people will always migrate. Not sure why I rambled in this...nothing better to do at work. Enjoy your respective worlds, people.

    February 3, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  11. Tek

    All games loose their appeal after time. WoW has been good about keeping things moving compared to other games. The only one that I can think that had as much content is EQ or EQ2.

    I have played MMOs off and on since Anarchy Online came out. I have moved from game to game and even went back to WoW twice. Playing SWTOR now and I love it. It is still a new game so there are still issues, but nothing to cry about.
    As long as SWTOR does not do anything stupid like Warhammer did, it should be around for a while. Only time will tell.

    February 2, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
  12. mike

    I like swtor, but someone call the loading screen police do we really need 6 loading screens to go from planet A to B?

    February 1, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
  13. Rez

    FOR THE HORDE!

    February 1, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • whatq

      For the Alliance

      February 10, 2012 at 12:40 am |
      • TheMendicantBias

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        February 10, 2012 at 1:16 am |
  14. Drew

    Been playing SWTOR since Beta, friggin' love the game. Content galore, super immersive, enough new elements (i.e. starship-as-homebase, space combat, companions, crafting) to be entertaining but not so many that it's a turn-off (yes, the designers admitted being heavily 'influenced' by WoW). Overall a great experience. End-game PVP needs work, but honestly, anyone who says "this game sucks s***" or "I couldn't be more disappointed", simply does not know what they are talking about. I think it's the best MMO to come along since WoW, but at the absolute worst, it's a very well polished version of what's already out there.

    February 1, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  15. Gam3on

    Can you play two MMOs and still have time for other things in life?

    I choose to only play one MMO at a time. That's just my style! I'm sure any responsible gamer can play two MMO's and still have time for other things in life.

    If not, what does the choice come down to?

    Eveyone has something they look for in a game. Some love PvP. Others may be interested in crafting. Still others may like player housing. And of course there's the whole social aspect. Gamers will play the MMO which has the elements which most appeal to them.

    Do you play the game that you’ve been playing and that you know well, or do you strike off into a brave new world to spend time with your friends?

    I don't keep long term MMO friends. I'll 'strike off into a brave new world' if a new game comes out that has elements that appeal to me.

    What is more important to you, content or friendship?

    Content! Friendship isn't important to me in my MMO's.

    February 1, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Dilciane

      shaney962 / Hey Clay, I would like an invite plsaee. I keep missing the freeweekends because my computer wasn't up to par to the system requirements lol. If you have any more, here is my email: I understand if you don't have anymore. Thanks

      July 1, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • Eva

      Ryan: Generating user personas snouds fascinating. I'd love to hear more about how you go about that. In my experience, however, user testing outside of the obligatory beta has actually become less prevalent for MMO games. I know AC1 did some basic user testing, largely at Microsoft's urging I had the videotapes stored under my desk for several years, even though I wasn't around to see the original sessions. But I'm not aware of many games since then that have made the effort. But even if user testing is done relatively late, I think it can really help target the polish in a very useful way. And polish what I might call getting out of the player's way is way more important than we give it credit for even today. For instance, watching Eric play through the newbie area of Greater Faydark in EQII was an education in itself. *grin* That sort of thing can really help smooth out unclear directions, confusing terrain, misplace fight difficulty all the little bits that can drive players away in a heartbeat. Babs: But imagine if an MMO spent parallel amounts of time in both tool-building =and= analyzing Venn diagrams of their target audience. They’d never launch oh, I disagree. Considering how absolutely little time most games put into tool-building, we'd only need a day or two of thinking about the target audience to reach parity! *grin* Unfortunately I think the odds of an MMO being successful are currently way below 50%. I have to believe that there's something we can do to improve the situation. I will concede, however, that given the current megahit-focused investment model, it probably is easier and no less predictive to go with our gut.

      July 3, 2012 at 5:38 am |
  16. Bootyfunk

    Star Wars sux. it has great voice work... and that's about it. otherwise, it just boring. i leveled to max level on a pvp server and saw enemy players maybe 10 times. yawn. the quests are even unimaginative. "go kill 12 space ghouls" or "go collect 6 supply crates". that's it. yawn.

    February 1, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • Grahk_Smahk

      DURIS is the greatest game ever, racewards, full racewar pvp, frag counts, questing, character building, trade commerce ship battles.

      February 1, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
      • Orthaz

        Rofl, DURIS! Holy crap, haven't heard that name in years. It still around? Orth/Griswold here

        February 1, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • Gam3on

      SWTOR is fun. For now. Probably because it's new and fresh! Time will tell how it shakes out.

      February 1, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • Patrick

      I started playing MMOs with EverQuest (EQ(1) later I moved to Earth and Beyond. But most of my gaming as been on World of Warcraft WoW. Your depiction of StarWars(ToR) is very much off imo. I agree the voice acting is great and brings the story into focus and creates a depth no other MMO has even come close to. However the quests are not as you describe. Some are "go kill 12 space ghouls" as you say. And many are not. The class story chain for example is very in-depth and is still introducing new mechanics. Does the game have issues? Certainly, it’s only been out just over a month. It is understandable for it not have the polish a game like WoW that has been out for the better part of a decade. In my experience those who complain are typically WoW players who were not around for vanilla (WoWs original form). Basically they have unrealistic expectations. Complaining the game is a WoW clone, then nerd raging when the game doesn’t live up to WoW in their opinion.

      February 1, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
      • whatq

        You were not around when WoW came out because you call it vanilla. Only ppl with the new fad call it vanilla it was pre BC and always will be. I played WoW sents Beta and Star Wars haves more problems than pre BC. Yea, Pre Bc had some issue bt dam Star Wars has a lot of them. I was praying it would be great but the issues are to high for to play it. :( So, I am stay with WoW might try out Star Wars again in a month or so but MoP will be out ... I will be on that woot.

        February 10, 2012 at 12:48 am |
      • Boyd

        moshin123 / Hey Clay, I would love an invite if you got any left, my email is or Whichever works for you, I'm not to borheted. Just wanna see where the game is at now, alst time I played was the beta weekends back in 2011. Hope to hear from you soon.Cheers.

        July 1, 2012 at 7:11 am |
  17. Scott

    I actually still enjoy an older game compared to the newest games with too much fluff and overtaxing internet connectivity and CPU constraints. I still play Neverwinter Nights the original. The player base on independent servers is quite alive and always evolving with a friendly environment albeit very challenging. I play on a server series called Higher Ground allowing characters up to 60th level and soon to be 80th level!!

    February 1, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • JeramieH

      I enjoy the older games too. The newer games are a lot of eye candy graphics and hand-holding, but they don't have the depth and raw challenge of the older games.

      Like someone said earlier, every player has their own personal favorite game, usually their first to the genre, which becomes their standard by which they compare all later games. Mine is EQ1. Later games (to me) all seem too easy and too shallow of gameplay in comparison. EQ1 was almost sadistically difficult in the early years and took real intelligence and determination to succeed in it. In most later games I've played, there's very little that is challenging, everything is watered down and streamlined for ease of play. There's no bite left in the genre.

      February 1, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
      • Leo

        Played it a little some mothns ago, it really needed a lot of work to be somewhat different then all other MMOs but I don't see this happening. In my mind Blizzard is still the only one that somewhat understands how to make games really work and others can better just make something else instead.suits *shakes head*

        July 1, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  18. Yasha

    I'm surprised the article didn't mention Star Trek Online as well, it just went free to play (supported by microtransactions) less than a month ago and has had a lot of new players (including myself), I'm curious how it matches up in terms of users flocking to it (I beta test The Old Republic, and I actually prefer STO)

    February 1, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • Mitch

      I left SWTOR to play STO when it appeared that SWTOR wasn't much fun.
      STO is much more fun than SWTOR. STO really embraces the IP it's based upon. SWTOR has lightsabers, but that's about it...

      February 1, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
      • Patrick

        @ Mitch
        > STO is much more fun than SWTOR.
        STO is very stale and repet.itive after the first 15 levels, even for an MMO.

        > has lightsabers, but that's about it...
        This is false and unlike the above not an opinion. (sw)ToR may seem that way to someone who has only seen the movies perhaps. However if you read the books as many SW fans do, you would know (sw)ToR is very much based on the “IP” of StarWars…all of it. From the classes that are based on well known SW characters to the ‘mobs’ (computer generated enemies) and environments.

        February 1, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  19. Viskakt

    Ultima Online was the greatest (pre Pub 16ish). Not one comment mentions it so I feel I must. It was the last game I've seen with Freedom of Choice. Sure, it also allowed for maximum griefing but also for maximum community, or just treasure hunting, or opening a shop. It had people taking roles as merchant, realtor, broker, etc...things that weren't embedded into the code.

    I've tried many newer games and they are beautiful compared to that old ugly game but the fun always fades away too quickly. I'm different than many people though and losing all the pixels I'm carrying never bothered me for long. If it isn't hard to get/keep, there is nothing special about having it. Still, everyone should play the game they enjoy most.

    February 1, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • Aerianna

      Ultima Online was my first..then my guild moved to Dark Ages of Camelot (DAoC) and then WoW. Some play Eve Online too. I have always thought MMO migration would make a great psychology study and am glad someone is taking notice.

      February 1, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Chez

      Let's not forget that UO was a goldmine.. literally. In just a few years of playing and selling the stuff on ebay, I ended up $45,000 richer. No joke.

      February 15, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • Chris

      It's not too late to relive the glory days:

      In Por Ylem (inporylem.com) is a free Ultima Online Shard based in the UO:T2A ruleset

      WoW and LOTRO are MMORPG's on Easy mode compared to UO :-)

      February 16, 2012 at 11:07 am |
  20. Agmystere

    Well, one small nitpick – Darnassus is always quiet. Now, if you're talking Stormwind, that's another story. :)

    February 1, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • whatq

      Editor must just jumped into MMO's becuz he messed up WoW so much.. If you go WoW you always be a WoW fan and I know you are reading about stuff about WoW. After a few months of playing Stars you will find yourself back playing WoW if not give me your gold I am on KJ server. I will see ppl in trade saying i am not coming back but yet they dont hand over any G.. Now I see them back playin WoW like nothing has changed. Then they said Blizz lost 2 million you forgot blizz booted 1million.

      February 10, 2012 at 12:53 am |
  21. Runswscissors

    Reading the comments on here makes me long for the days of MUDs and the social aspects. I've never found MMORPG's to be the same.

    February 1, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • Alison

      I completely agree, Runs. I still occassionally go back to my MUDs, where a quest is really a quest filled with riddles and seemingly impossible obstacles. MMOs don't require much thought and absolutely no imagination compared to a MUD.

      February 1, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • Patrick

      You might as well compare an abacus to an Alienware gaming desktop. Of course its not the same. However the social aspects can be debated as most MUD players tended to be shut-in versus modern gamers using the like of Ventrillo, FaceBook, and Skype alone with in game social features. As stated int eh article above gamers can interact better than ever. Choosing to do so however come down to your gaming buddies. I suggest you get a better group.

      This seems a lot like the ‘good old days’ argument. I’m sorry things are often not how we remember them. For a great example go watch a cartoon you loved as a kid today.

      February 1, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  22. Brian

    Nice article. I've played LOTRO for a long time with my wife and son, and we were part of a great guild, but then many members went to RIFT and the guild fell apart. It has seemed a bit more empty as you say.

    February 1, 2012 at 10:28 am |
  23. mickey

    one thing is for sure, MMO's have fostered behavior that would get you killed if you tried the same thing in any bar.

    February 1, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • mickey

      imagine waiting 10 minutes for your beer to pop, and when it does some jerk jumps in front of you and drinks it....

      February 1, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Patrick

      Conversely most people that hang out in bars on a regular bases aren’t exactly upstanding members of society. Try going to work and doing some of the acceptable activities you do at the bar… see how that works out for you. lol

      February 1, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
  24. Mattski

    I get on when the major updates come out, level up, get the good gear, then sign off till the next update. I don't care for the incremental release of content, so I just wait for a major update to do my catching up. I've found that I don't miss much by doing it this way. When I come back, it's the same people online, with the same snarky comments, guild drama, etc. Nothing changes.

    February 1, 2012 at 9:26 am |
  25. JollyGreenBud

    Finally, a CNN comment board not overrun by trolls. It's amazing to me how educated we all are on this thread. You can go to any other article here on CNN and you find moronic comments with poor use of grammar.

    February 1, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • Wicced

      Well, we are more used to communicating via typing than most. -)

      February 1, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • t3chsupport

      Thing is, it probably IS overrun by trolls. But they all cancel each other out and act civil, because there's no point in trolling trolls.

      February 1, 2012 at 10:29 am |
  26. Mike H

    I played WoW from launch 2004 to Jan. 2011, I don't miss it at all, the game got stale. Went back to playing console games, CoD, Gears 3, and Skyrim and I am very happy. I would like to pick up a new multiplayer RPG in the future, whether its an MMO or multi server based like Diablo, but only if it seemed really appealing, and being on a console would help.

    February 1, 2012 at 9:15 am |
  27. Justin

    Yeah I've seen this a lot recently. I tend to balance 2 or 3 games at a time so i don't get bored with one too quickly and in all of them i've noticed a decline of people. In some cases its due to the large amounts of hackers messing with the code causing people to lose their stuff they worked hard for(*cough*mabinogi*cough*). I haven't played The Old Republic yet but that is what most of my friends are talking about. Ive seen this happen in several instances such as when LotRO and Rift came out.

    February 1, 2012 at 9:14 am |
  28. Ben

    Dare I admit it... Yes, I am a 52 year old gamer-geek and I love SWToR. I've played pretty much all the major MMO's that have come along the past 10 years or so, starting way back in the early days of Everquest, or Evercrack as it was called back then. Anyway... for anyone who loves games and loves Star Wars you owe it to yourself to try ToR. It may not be perfect, but it's a heck of alot of fun.

    February 1, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • Patrick

      I miss my Bard-speed.

      February 1, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
      • Kotoe

        Long MMO projects don't mean kriwong 60-80 hour weeks for 4-5 years. That is a company problem not a genre problem. Top tier MMO's for the amount of content players expect though are going to take in the time range of 5 years unfortunately. Personally I can work for about a single week at most at 60 hours before my productivity is seriously impacted and I'm performing at less than I do with a normal 40-45 hour work week. As well, this isn't unusual as studies on overtime have shown so companies still encouraging it are crazy.Will state the rumors for SWTOR do not sound good. And the videos keep making me think of WoW except with Star Wars lore. Scares me when you can shoot a Stormtrooper and another one 20 meters away just ignores your actions. Just a mechanic that really bothers me that is still prevalent in MMOs.

        March 5, 2012 at 9:49 am |
  29. Levi

    I typically bounce between mmos all the time but I always wind up going back to that one special one. I believe every gamer has a specific mmo that sort of feels like home to them no matter what the game's producer does. I just can't believe there was no mention at all of Eve Online in this post at all (one of the best pvp games on the market). Plenty of players are getting tired of the constant theme park games and drift to Eve on a monthly basis. It's not in the same genre as WoW or the Old Republic but thats the reason new players come to it every day.

    February 1, 2012 at 8:27 am |
    • Snap

      Eve Online PVP sucks for one reason, players will only engage you in PVP when they have overwhelming odds. To many times someone with to much money just hires every merc on the game to camp you wherever you go. But if your corp gets together to fight back, they scurry back into their sewers. Realistic PVP is a decent idea, but humans are to dirty to keep it fun.

      February 1, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • FRaptor

      EVE has been the only game for me in the last 2 years. I think about trying SWTOR but don't want to stop EVE (don't have time for both).

      February 1, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • Razor Alliance

      Eve-Online for over 7 years for me... nothing else compares. For those who've never heard if it, Eve is a Persistent Universe where 50k players are online at the same time. Things you do MATTER. Its a Sandbox game where you can do anything you can concieve of. Eve is so hard-core that all other games look like Hello Kitty Online.

      February 1, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
      • Joe

        There's a Hello Kitty Online? OMG i've got to try it! :D

        February 16, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • Likes

      Wow, Gaz. Now I want chocolate. Thanks a lot!To be hoesnt, I hope they stick with the normal $15 a month for access to everything, with the occasional purchasing of expansions. It's simple and you never really have to worry about it. The idea of being able to check off a list of stuff you'd like to purchase for new content is a cool idea, but is, imo needlessly complicated. Besides, what happens if I'd like every new piece of new content? Would I end up paying more than I would have if I just plunked down a flat fee on a full expansion?I normally think the simpler option is the best option, and I find that to be the case here as well.

      June 30, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
  30. Wayne

    Wow, I got through the first three paragraphs and that's all I needed to realize I was reading yet another poorly researched piece. WoW lost a major chunk of subs long before SWTOR came on the scene. Rift has been "in decline" for the past 6 months. BTW, Rift is currently at target population. LotR is doing very well with the FtP model. You will see SWTOR decline as well, Do a little research next time so you don't sound like a glorified forum QQ preaching doom and gloom and the next coming. Basing reality on your micro sphere of experience is poor journalism.

    February 1, 2012 at 6:48 am |
  31. dom

    haha LOTRO was a terrible game absolutely terrible. I've been playing SWTOR and can honestly say I'm incredibly dissapointed in how it was put together I was really expecting a lot more out of it especially considering all the money that was sunk into its development. I intend on leveling my guy a little bit more and then quitting. I'm tired of the same old formula for MMOs there needs to be some creativity in the industry. I've played most of them since 1999 and am quite frankly tired of the same crap. The only one with uniqueness so far was Asheron's Call that was popular in late 90s and early 00's I used to love that game.

    February 1, 2012 at 2:06 am |
    • Runswscissors

      I hear you. Truthfully, most of the MMORPG's are pretty cliche in terms of leveling, questing, etc. If you really want unique you probably have to go back to the days of MUD's where everything was text based and you had more creativity through dramatic license. Still, I have to say, I've enjoyed SW:TOR, the multiple storylines are pretty well coordinated and executed. It certainly doesn't lack for depth.

      February 1, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • Patrick

      @ dom
      It doesn’t seem like (sw)ToR is the problem but your interest in the MMO genre. MUDs are as much fun as twitting your every move. I’ve been there, took some time off to play console until that too got boring. Now I play a combination of both and make an effort to ‘do’ my other hobbies a bit more often as well. Personally I am playing ToR atm and aside from simple opinions (no one thing is for everyone)I’ve seen no real argument against the game. Mostly WoW fan-boys that complain ToR is a clone then turn around and rage it’s not clone enough. lol

      February 1, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  32. Nerves

    The nice thing about LOTRO, which they didn't touch on here was that you have an alternative to a subscription. Because the payment is flexible, It makes an excellent second MMO or a good place to casually adventure from time to time.

    January 31, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
  33. Benjimir

    I founded a still thriving kinship in LOTRO (Sons of Numenor,) and had the choice of either embracing the madness and starting a division in SWTOR, or ignoring it and face having lots of friends leave both LOTRO and the guild. So I went with adding a SWTOR division. The result is now we have nearly double the number of total members in-game (in either LOTRO or SWTOR.)

    Our members can and do migrate with updates, expansions, and now a new game. For us, survival was about making sure folks could stay "in the family," regardless of being in LOTRO or SWTOR. And both divisions of our guild are now growing, exactly because we can offer folks one home for whatever style or game they play.

    The guilds and games that will thrive are the ones that can really help make it easy to be social, run guilds, etc. Not everybody wants or needs to be in a guild, but they are a big part of the social structure in MMORPGs.

    What will make or break many games, is not if the game it technically sound, but how easy they make it to return (IE: free to play models, robust guild functions, web communities, etc) and content updates that aren't reskins of old content.

    SWTOR clearly knows and is well ahead of the curve with the plans they have laid out for 2012. LOTRO may be about to have a good year, but still hasn't said anything beyond a year-end retail expansion.

    As for WoW? Never played it. Never will. Too many negative stereotypes based on players from that game, and its community is like every persons bad nightmare from high school. Some said AOL wouldn't vanish either. Now it is a glorified webpage with dial-up service. Their death spiral began when users started fleeing. Couple million here, couple more million there, and before you know it, that 12 million is down to 6, half or more of which are in China.

    January 31, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • JustinF

      "As for WoW? Never played it. Never will. Too many negative stereotypes based on players from that game, and its community is like every persons bad nightmare from high school."

      Man, I wouldn't let these perceived "stereotypes" stop you from playing the most successful game of all time. Some of the best people I've ever met came from playing WoW. I don't play the game anymore, but I still keep in touch with the people I played with.

      January 31, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
      • Jack Kieser

        Yeah, the reason to stay away from WoW is more the bad Skinner box gameplay mechanics than anything else. WoW may be the most popular MMO, but that does not mean it's the most well-designed MMO, not by a long shot. WoW is a game stuck in the early '00s, and in terms of sheer gameplay, most other MMOs have surpassed it by now (certainly in presentation). No, WoW may be the most popular MMO, but it is certainly not the best.

        February 1, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Patrick

      I agree with Justin, WoW really is a great game. Who cares about "stereotypes"? Your friends know who you are and anyone not into MMOs are still going to place you under that umbrella if you play WoW or LOTRO. I’ve moved on from WoW having played it from beta. This has more to do with me than the game. (I’m just over it) And am currently enjoying (sw)ToR.

      February 1, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • Sandeep

      , I have a few responses to saperate portions. First, I don't think it's surprising that your results show an interest in story. In fact, there's three reasons that I don't. First, consider your audience; people who are attracted to written media; whether it be 148 characters or a quest text, your sample is going to want things like text. Secondly, story is supposed to be the new big thing, the fourth pillar, something so far ignored by the MMO developers (not that it was really, but that's how Star Wars is hyping it), so it doesn't surprise me that it shows up as popular. Lastly, in A Theory of Fun, Koster talks about people being interested in the fiction of a game at first, but as they develop more skill in the game, being less and less interested in the setting. I think this is probably true of all of us; we read the quests at first but eventually just scan for the Verb number noun of the quest. I also found the section on the big gamble very interesting. You did an excellent job covering the core of MMOs playing with your friends. I can't tell you how frustrated I've been in games that indirectly penalize you for grouping; Rift has been the best so far about this, both by auto-making public groups and by having quest drops be lootable by everyone in a party. I feel that we need a lot of friend-friendly innovation in games, and I certainly hope to see it in both Star Wars and Secret World.Great post!Stubborn recently posted..

      March 6, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
  34. Melissa

    I've been playing role playing games 17 years, and MMO's since the first EQ was released in the early 2000's. I'm such a huge fan of these that I even own a website dedicated to them.

    My favorite game of all time is STILL EQ2 even though I no longer play it. Why? Because SOE is the single most greedy company on the MMO market. First they screwed SWG, then they screwed EQ2, then it was DCUO, and its only a matter of time till they screw Vanguard too. They don't deserve my money.

    I've tried dozens of games from tabletop to MMO's. The best one out there at the moment (other than my beloved EQ2) is Star Wars. But you know what? Its lacking. But so is pretty much every single game (including Lord of the Rings Online) since around the time of LOTRO. The theme park idea is the single worst idea ever pushed into MMO's. It's made everything worse.

    Suddenly its become ok to give players incomplete games and just expect the players to take it. The developers keep talking about how they are "Next Gen but none of them seem to have a clue what that actually is.

    January 31, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • Benjimir

      Melissa,

      SEO is indeed the anti-christ of MMORPGs. Their properties are radioactive to veteran MMORPG players, and folks joke SEO is where MMORPGs go to die.

      That said, I don't think the theme park approach is the worst thing to happen. I think a lot of MMORPG players look for a "game" first, with a social system built-in. The problem is that these are mmoRPGs. Their are virtual worlds, designed along the lines of places like you see in Star Wars, Tolkien, etc. People who really want a "video game," get worn-out in what others are actually seeking, and escape.

      I think the best games try to strike a balance.

      January 31, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
      • Papacik

        Bonedead, nope, hadn't seen that. I sometimes am frratusted by the really poor quality of story in MMO's I'm not even really looking for high-quality entertainment. I just dislike it when the author is obviously phoning it in!Babs it can't hurt :) I'm sure there's a lot that your designers can do without spending a whole lot more time than they have available. Interesting characters that we care about, that'd go a huge way (not that I've seen that in pretty much any MMO )Tzing: yeah, you're right. The more well-defined the story property is, the less the designers should have to work. If they go too far, then they'll just mess things up! But they still need to be entertaining!

        October 12, 2012 at 8:45 am |
    • Patrick

      I also played EQ(1) it was my first MMO. (I miss my bard-speed) hHowever EQ(2) was horrible. Very plastic and clunky. I participated in EQ(2) beta at the same time as I did the WoW beta. WoW in my opinion (despite my weak spot for EQ) WoW was vastly superior. Having a life I could realistically chose only one. WoW was it.

      February 1, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  35. RabiaDiluvio

    No.
    An MMO is a class-1 chronovore. It will devour your life and productivity while giving you cute little dopamine hits that make you feel all warm and tingly. Spending more than 2 hours a week at this sort of activity is not compatible with having a family, living a purposeful life or generally being a worthwhile member of society (or even a household).

    January 31, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • G-Off

      You clearly have no idea what you are talking about, and your radical and absurd statements have no basis in reality. I know dozens of people who are professional adults with families, and play various MMOs significantly more then the time you listed. Responsible people are responsible with how they spend their time, and have their priorities properly aligned. People who neglect responsibilities because of video games, or any other hobby, need to accept the responsibility for their actions rather then blaming their 'addictive' hobby for the reasons they are non-productive members of society.

      February 1, 2012 at 9:16 am |
  36. ITpro

    I also have been an avid mmo player for the last 6 years. Its more fun than watching tv and my guild includes three IT vps, one CIO and other IT managers (including me). I would much rather do something interactive and social than fall asleep in front of the tube! Some nights its more about the joking around (on voice chat) than it is about the raid. Now excuse me, but tonight is raid night for my guild...

    January 31, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  37. urmomlol

    Darnassus was always a ghost town.

    January 31, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • Craig B

      Darnassus wasn't always a ghost town, only once Cataclysm made it a lot more convenient to stand around Stormwind. Stormwind is quite a bit quieter, too...

      January 31, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • Babylyn

      I'm thinking I'll palbrboy buy it sometime Jan/Feb and play it a good bit to see how they handle updates and such. I can easily see it as something I sub to for a month, drop a couple, come back, etc.

      July 1, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
  38. Ranger

    I will never play another Star Wars MMO because of what they did to Galaxies.

    January 31, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Jaime

      Then you're missing out!

      January 31, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
    • Runswscissors

      So if you get a leaky faucet in your house do you remove all the indoor plumbing or fix the faucet. :-)

      February 1, 2012 at 10:57 am |
  39. Shayl

    It's hard to commit to more than one MMO at a time, simply because the games are designed to keep you busy and keep you hooked and moving forward. Some people can play them sparingly, but I am one of the many, many people who get hooked in and want to play nothing else but my current MMO of choice. Sometimes I don't even want to DO anything else but play it, but that's addiction.

    The games are designed to spend a lot of time on, however. They can't be paused, so once you are committed to fighting a dungeon or grouping with people, it's somewhat rude to leave abruptly. The commitments can be rather long, and the peer pressure to stick around and finish can be rather high.

    Also, MMOs are pretty social, and if you leave one game where you know everything to play another where you don't, that is much less fun than wherever your friends happen to be. I've stayed playing bad games LONG past when I should have quit, just because my friends were there.

    So no, I can't play two MMOs at once. In fact, I can no longer play one MMO at once, I don't have enough time in my life to commit to more than an hour of gaming in a row, and I get too addicted to MMOs to do anything but play endlessly.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  40. liquidsin

    I practically play for the content. Yes, you might find a few people to share a good game time but its better to not socialize too much where you get to close to them. Its only a game and should be looked as just that. Almost everyone here deviated from the actual question in the article and started judging people based on their own experiences. So many psychologists in this place. Everyone is different and until we as a society stop trying to change others way of being/living/thinking..we will never grow ourselves.

    Play, socialize, live and let live and you will be happier.

    January 31, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  41. Jaimondrow

    Video game addiction has nothing to do with video games and everything to do with addiction. There are people addicted to gambling, collecting, politics, and just about anything you can imagine. The problem is not the 'thing' but the person who has lost context. For a parent to fail so spectacularly that they would allow their child to devolve into such an addiction from childhood all the way into adulthood says more about the selfishness/laziness of the preceding generation than it does about the gambling, collecting, politics, or even computer games.

    January 31, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • WetDream

      I must be an addict. I do so many things every day that I must be. I eat everyday, I drink water, I stretch everyday. I'm very addicted to yawning because it feels so good. Also I poop everyday so I must be addicted to that to. Oh, and talking to people, I do that often, you know, using words to communicate. I'm addicted to the good feelings I get from friends and family when they communicate with me whether it's via phone, email or in person.

      Not all addictions are not bad, evil or destructive, just some of them are, those that done to excess hurt yourself or others. Video games are no exception, they can be a tool used to grow, enlighten yourself and find love, adventure and social exceptance and the rest of the world will be forced to recognize this because they are not going away, so grow a pair and stop whining at "video games" and start complaining about the specific individuals who are unable to game in moderation.

      January 31, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • WetDream

      correction:
      "Not all addictions are bad,"

      January 31, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Erin

      There is no "fail" as a parent or an adult by playing these games. Yes I agree moderation in everything, staying active to be healthy and enjoying conversation with in person people. I also believe there is a place for this in our lives. Was it an issue when the original Nintendo came out? No! My mom liked that it help build our hand-eye coordination. I do not play WoW every night of my life, but there have been weekends sucked away by it. And you know, I was talking to at least five people at any given time during those weekends. Yes they were online, but they were close friends in my guild or friends of friends. I got started into WoW because I was in a long-distance relationship. We could still do something together when we couldn't be in the same room. We accomplished things together and could talk the entire time. Where is the fail in that?

      January 31, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • Patrick

      @ Jaimondrow
      I completely agree. Some however find the need to demonize the object or activity over placing reasonability on the individual.

      February 1, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  42. Radical Simplicity

    As a parent of a child (now an adult) who has been playng in MMO's for the last ten years, I sadly see MMO players as the real "Lost Generation" spoken of so frequestly in the press, not those who have been unemployed. While an MMO does provide some social contact, it is not the in-person, face-to-face contact needed for someone to be a viable member of society. In the next few years (if not already in place), I suspect that the MMO companies will start putting bots in all the guilds to make the players think that they are enjoying a social life and keep them from straying to other games. I get very depressed thinking about whether the members of this Lost Generation will ever be able to function once their parents die off. Maybe they can live in cardboard boxes and make believe that are still in thier virtual basements of old.

    January 31, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • JeramieH

      Strange, they said that about telephones, TV, video games, Facebook, texting, cell phones... your single data point hardly qualifies as enough info to make broad generalizations about an entire generation of people.

      January 31, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Jake

      Ridiculous generalization. I make good money as a working stiff and pay my own way through life. Still play sports with friends, go out with teammates and friends for celebratory meals and drinks on occasion. All of this while being an avid MMO gamer for the past 13 years. It sounds to me like you just want to make excuses for your child’s inability to grow up and balance life. This is not the fault of an MMO or hell, even the fault of your own. Some people grow, and some people wilt.

      January 31, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
      • not bob levy

        @Jake – very good reply!

        January 31, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
      • Pokey

        Absolutely the best response here.

        February 1, 2012 at 7:35 am |
    • Mike H

      This is a rather narrow minded view of the world in general and more specifically about new forms of communication. Social media has evolved the definition of society to a point where a social interaction no longer means having to spend time in a bar or out playing sports. "Social" by definition means interacting and developing relationships in a mutually beneficial way to develop and improve society however society no longer is confined to the same standards they were two decades ago. Throughout the entire world, hundreds of thousands of societies exist each with their unique facets. MMOs have developed their own societies where people still perform the exact same duties that they have throughout the evolution of mankind just in a digital playing field. People who spend their time in these societies are no more or less functional in "the real world" then they are within their gaming worlds.

      January 31, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Dave in Portland

      It's interesting how you lump us all together. I am an ex-military IT professional. I have a girlfriend. I have my own apartment and vehicle. I have friends that I interact with socially. I also play both World of Warcraft and SWTOR.

      It's never a good thing when you generalize.

      January 31, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • WetDream

      "I suspect that the MMO companies will start putting bots in all the guilds to make the players think that they are enjoying a social life" Not a chance, at least, not in any near future with the current AI, social relationships are far to complex to be randomly generated. Plus you do not factor in the fact that your son might have been the next "columbine" kid if he hadn't found an online community to be a part of and socially interact with others even if it was only on the digital plane.

      Where is all the outrage when your son joins the chess club? He's not out getting the cheerleader or partying with the cool kids and is in a reclusive social group, but I never hear parents decrying the damage done by the game of chess which some devote just as many hours to playing as many do MMO's now. What is the difference you silly parents?

      January 31, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
      • Karim

        Long MMO projects don't mean wkrniog 60-80 hour weeks for 4-5 years. That is a company problem not a genre problem. Top tier MMO's for the amount of content players expect though are going to take in the time range of 5 years unfortunately. Personally I can work for about a single week at most at 60 hours before my productivity is seriously impacted and I'm performing at less than I do with a normal 40-45 hour work week. As well, this isn't unusual as studies on overtime have shown so companies still encouraging it are crazy.Will state the rumors for SWTOR do not sound good. And the videos keep making me think of WoW except with Star Wars lore. Scares me when you can shoot a Stormtrooper and another one 20 meters away just ignores your actions. Just a mechanic that really bothers me that is still prevalent in MMOs.

        July 1, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Emmychick

      Don't generalize. Most of us are not the unemployed losers that uninformed idiots would have us be. In my raiding guild in WoW, there are three lawyers, a surgeon, college professors, several computer programmers and more than one person pursuing advanced education (engineering, biological engineering, med school, math).

      I am married and my husband and I both play MMO's, I'd much rather do something like that, than sit side by side on the couch watching a television show for several hours every night (not to mention some couples don't even watch things together.)

      If you want to call me part of the Lost Generation, I'll take it. Because I've lost the petty judgement and shallow views of people like you.

      January 31, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • Jakester

      Give me a break. I am a 51 year old who is a veteran of MMO's. I enjoy a successful professional career that I work at in excess of 40 hours a week which supports a comfortable lifestyle. I also enjoy a very active social life as well as volunteer life. Because I enjoy playing MMO's I find the time but by far they have not interfered with my social/professional development. My gaming and socialization on it is part of my social circle but does not interfere with me getting out. To think otherwise about gamers is absurd and narrow minded.

      January 31, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Partial_M

      To add my tale to the the rest...

      I began playing MMO's at age 24, nearly 8 years ago; I've played WoW, City of Heroes, Lord of the Rings, and currently The Old Republic – among others I have tried. I have held down a professional, full-time job the entire time. I have lived 2,500 miles away from my family the entire time. I am healthy, not over-weight; I exercise, clean my house and pay al my bills on time. I am not married, but I have an active social life with many real-life friends and always have a girlfriend. I do know people who are addicted to the games, but they tend to the minority among my in-game friends.

      I generally play four or five days a week. During weekdays, I only play for about 2 hours – far less than many people spend staring at a Television. I almost never play on Friday nights, due to my social life. On weekends, I tend to play for about 3 hours on Saturday and 4-5 on Sunday. If the weather is bad, I may play for longer during the weekend, since there's not much else to do. I will admit that I was never able to be one of the "Top Raiders" in my WoW guild, due to my schedule; but that never bothered me. I would still raid, but it was never a high priority.

      In short, it is not difficult to balance the Real World with Game Time, and I feel that playing MMOs is a MUCH healthier activity than watching TV all day. It's interactive, requires social skills, math abilities (to maximize your character) and is free of mindless advertising. In a way, I view MMOs as the future of entertainment; instead of watching a show, I am an active participant. The Old Republic does an outstanding job of making you feel like you are involved in an epic story, and it's conversation system allows you to affect the narrative flow, instead of sitting on a couch, staring blanky at a screen.

      Also, no "Bot" would ever be able to fool any guild/clan/etc that I have been in; most players use Ventrilo or TeamSpeak to talk to each other. Even those who do not use voice-chat are invariably drawn into conversation with other players. Any player who doesn't communicate is promptly kicked from the group. Always. No A.I is able to converse with humans enough to pass the Turing Test (look it up).

      I am sorry that your child has become one of the "Lost Generation" to you. I'm guessing he's the same kind of person who would have been a couch potato during previous decades. But many of us are "viable members of society" and have no problem at all balancing this form of entertainment with the other facets of our lives.

      January 31, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Jeff

      Don't blame mmo's or video games for your child to having the ability to foster into a responsible adult. Blame yourself for failing as a parent to properly motivate them. What's the term I'm thinking of .... hmmm .... oh yeah, enabler.

      January 31, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
    • Freddie

      You are exactly right. I too have seen lives virtually destroyed by these online games. It is tragic.

      And yes, I get it; the addict never recognizes that they have a problem.

      February 1, 2012 at 12:13 am |
    • Scot

      Just to add another reply to this post: I'm a 23y.o. Civil Engineer E.I.T. working in Colorado. I have a girlfriend, a dog, a place to live, and I completely support myself. I've played MMO's off and on since I was 15, and I somehow went to college and got a career despite being part of the "lost generation". Hopefully you don't mind an MMO player building your bridges and buildings that you utilize every day. Your "adult child" would probably find another vice and live at home leaching off society even without MMO's.

      February 1, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • Fiddledee

      It sounds like you have no idea what you're talking about. There is no way an AI can infultrate a chat system. Not to mention that back when I played WoW, most players in my guild or instance group used Ventrilo or other forms of chatting through a mic. From the numerous replies to your ignorance-filled post, you should see by now that a large majority of those who play video games are intelligent functioning members of society. Don't blame media on faulty parenting. I've seen kids addicted to video games, and its normally because their parents did not bother understanding them or take the time to prompt/enable interaction. At a young age these people were plopped in front of a tv to stop them from bothering their parents.

      February 1, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • Patrick

      I’ve been playing MMOs since EQ(1).
      I currently work for a fortune 500 company.
      Have a fiancé that is a med student.
      I am also an armature fitness freak. (Body building mostly)
      I have my own place. Two motorcycles and a truck.

      Try again.

      February 1, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  43. JeramieH

    We lost most of our guild in original EverQuest when SWG came out, back before WoW ever existed... people leaving to play the next MMO has been happening for at least a decade now.

    January 31, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
  44. Dean

    Having a steady life in both worlds works fine. I am the GM of the top guild on my SWTOR server. Not that the content is difficult to begin with. Easy to manage spending time with my daughters after work and putting them to bed and then raiding that night and have my weekends to do stuff with family and friends. Of course I could spend more time in game but its not hard to find a balance.

    January 31, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • Gam3on

      How do you know your guild is 'top' on your SWTOR server? By what measure? Members?

      February 1, 2012 at 4:28 pm |