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I remember old MMOs, they didn't focus on fun. There was no instances (at least in UO and Asheron's Call), no minigames (like in GW2)...they felt far more like worlds (at least the two I played back when). They didn't have a bunch of dailies, instead you just did whatever and made goals for yourself.
I remember grinding for 16 hours in the same spot in Asheron's Call, and while it wasn't fun...I ended up making a lot of friends as we brought mobs back to the area. It was more of a world, more of a social experience, than what current MMOs offer.
Is this why so many MMOs are failing? I know Vanguard was an attempt to not focus so much on fun (like dumb minigames and jumping puzzles, those don't belong in an MMO)...but more of a world and classic MMO experience. It is sad people didn't give it a chance, but was too buggy I guess and then updates stopped.
Now, fun MMOs...sure they are fun for a month to a few months...but then it just gets boring and too unrealistic. But, old classic MMOs? While they didn't focus on fun, it was far more social. It is even proven that people stuck with the SAME MMO for years to decades, and people still play UO and AC and have for longer than most MMOs have been alive.
I believe the reason for this is cause they don't do frivelous minigames, jumping puzzles, dailies and point a to b quests. But instead they bring players together to grind, socialize and be a part of the world.
I think future MMOs could do really well if they took out all the "fun" (minigames and what not) and brought back the WORLD and socializing aspects of an MMO.
(edit: to expand that thought. In new MMOs, people rush everywhere as they do minigames, puzzles, instances and quests. No chance to make friends, like in old MMOs where people stood in an area and talked as they killed stuff. Much better chances of making friends in that way, than the new way of MMOs and felt far more like a world)