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We've discussed the effects of grinding on modern MMORPG players through several threads, so I won't touch on them very long.
Several products of the grind that normal MMORPG incur (Even Eve, yes):
1. Players spend vast, miserable ammounts of time trying to keep up and grow frustrated
2. Players develop a sort of hatred for the particular MMORPG
3. Players search for new MMORPGs, and possibly get hooked on another
4. Players lose interest in the levelling treadmill and desire more dynamic activities involving risk/reward, learning, exploration, and player vs player activities. This could materialize as PvP, markets and crafting, etc.
It took myself and my friends about 7 years to go through this cycle. We represent the post-UO era of MMO players. We can still play Mario Kart, Goldeneye 007, and Secret of Mana, but are completely unable to stand more than 5 minutes of WoW. It is not age that kills our interest in MMORPGs.
Blizzard announced that their new MMORPG will bear very little resemblance to WoW and the playstyle of WoW. This mmorpg will be released in 2014, they predict. 2014 is 6 years from now, which is about the timespan that it takes to develop an MMORPG.
The release of WoW 3 years ago effectively defeated the competition in the rest of the MMORPG market. However, the market has also expanded, as WoW has brought new players into the market. Some niche MMORPGs like Eve (space combat), everquest (hardcore PvE), and lineage 2 (???) are able to survive on a small scale.
I theorize it will take the next 3 years for the majority of these players to be completely broken by the grind treadmill. At this point, developers will recieve a clear message that dynamic MMORPGS (which I will not touch on, and assume you are already familiar with) are desireable as the next stage in the MMORPG evolution scale.
Throughout 2009-2011, developers will begin working on dynamic MMORPGs, and we will see a vast array of failures and semi-successes that will garner much interest from the MMORPG crowd. These 'test games' will help larger firms determine the direction they want to take with their projects. In 2014, Blizzard will release their dynamic MMORPG, and we will see other large companies (we can only guess) doing the same around that time.
When do you think dynamic MMORPGs will become mainstream?
What companies will develop these games?
Will games involving a significant grind treadmill exist until infinity, or will new MMORPG players have no interest in grinding, when offered a better alternative?
If you don't like it, don't play it.
800 million subscribers cannot lie