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Here is what happened,
Lets go Way back. MMOs were still new and not completely refined. We had UO and EQ1 but they were rough drafts in a time where Dialup was the best we could use.
Around 2003 Blizzard developed World of Warcraft in with competition of Everquest 2 by Sony to be the next generation MMO. Everquest 2 lost with it's poor graphics engine and just plain ugly world and zoning.
This left us with only World of Warcraft, with perfect timing of EVERYTHING.
- Faster internet with DSL and Cable modem.
- Non instanced game world.
- Community based tools and quest hubs.
- Slow leveling, allowing everyone to stay that level for longer periods to make friends with a mutual goal.
- Cartoon, but stable for lower end computers.
- Quick fixes to bugs.
- Non-Zoned Areas to play, with a theme for each one along with music to set the mood.
- 6 starting areas for freedom and replay.
- PvP that worked.
- Low competition
- No costly expansion's for years, adding they were not needed for years
The list could go on and on. EverQuest 2 fans could argue forever but WoW was it, hands down. The money was rolling in. Marketing was not structured enough to interfere yet, not that it had to !......Millions of people were rolling in, kids in school had a major fade. " if you don't play WoW your behind ".
OK, now that I set the stage, I'll go into the downhill slide :
Around the EXACT SAME TIME maybe 2008 or so ( don't hold me to that ) three things happened.
1) Developers began mass producing mmos to hop on the action
2) Marketing took over.
3) World of Warcraft developed the dungeon finder. The beginning of Lobby game. This idea was met with mixed reactions. I could safely say 50/50. This killed the community. You no longer needed that guild, or a friends list THIS WAS THE REAL BOTTOM LINE OF THE END OF DEEP FRIENDSHIP.
Deep friendship is what makes you log in day after day for months or years. It's why people don't stop playing after they learn all them cool abilities and have seen all the world has to offer.
Marketing departments began studying Blizzards World of Warcraft. They took it upon themselves to copy the Dungeon Finder not knowing it was a downfall, thinking Bilzzard was still making millions. They in braced this extremely new feature without the understanding that it will destroy long term gameplay that only World of Warcraft could overcome with its monopoly............This is when the 30 day non-social mmo came to life.
Other factors that killed the mmo experience were Dynamic events, personal story lines and instanced zones. This turned mmos into just games.
Not many players play games longer than 30 days, but mmos they will !