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[Column] General: Why Do Players Leave MMOs?



  • TorvalTorval Posts: 11,954Member Legendary

    I usually leave a game when progression feels stagnant. If I end up having to continually repeat tasks that I don't enjoy to eek out a small measure of progression the magic of the character and growth starts to fade.

    In Lineage, when I hit high levels and died, realizing it would take me weeks to recoup, it started to take the wind out of my sails. After a bit of that I just didn't feel like doing it anymore.

    In several themeparks when I get to the point where I'm just repeating the exact same activities, especially if I have to do it with people I don't enjoy playing with, I lose interest and move on.

    If I'm playing a game and the progression stops feeling like progression then I lose interest.

    Sometimes I return, sometimes I don't. The barriers to reentry and how much I enjoyed my characters usually help that decision. If the systems have become so complex and non-intuitive that I can't just start playing and relearning I'm probably less likely to return.

    The things is with all the different games to play I don't want to be stuck in a single game anymore. Leaving a game doesn't feel bad to me. What I think game developers should be thinking about is how easy is it to get players to return for a visit.

    Centuries ago, in primitive times, before the dawn of civilization, there were things that would be inconceivable to us today; such things as poverty, disease, violence, senility, and love.
  • IGaveUpIGaveUp NW, INPosts: 273Member

    Exit events for me:


    1.  Researched the game and didn't have interest to start.  (Not an exit event, but they didn't get my business)

    2. I made a mistake starting the game.  I don't like the game.  Not sticking around.

    3.  I did like the game.  Expansion pack screwed it up.


    Never have I played a game to cap and left because of being out of content.  *sigh*  I can't make it to cap without quitting if the game isn't something I enjoy.


  • NetspookNetspook OsloPosts: 1,565Member Uncommon

    My "exit events" are usually because of reasons they can't easily fix, ie it's too grindy, combat sucks, it's just boring for whatever reason, etc.

    One permanent exit event had completely different reasons, though. I had to leave FFXI for 8-9 months because of things happening in my life, but then tried to come back. I couldn't... Square-Enix comfirmed they had deleted the account due to inactivity, and that I had to both buy a new copy of the game + expansions, and start completely over. That's how that game completely died for me after playing it for several years.

  • SinDicate99SinDicate99 Saint John, NBPosts: 11Member Uncommon
    I just get bored of games easily,
  • jbombardjbombard SapporoPosts: 580Member Uncommon

    People leave because the game isn't fun and/or because they don't feel they are getting value for their money.


    Really though I don't think there is an exit event if someone has played less than 6 months, as I don't think they were ever really invested in the game and the game just wasn't their kind of game.


    I left LotRO because the game was incredibly tedious, grindy and it just took too long to get into the action and make progress.  I played that game for a fair amount of time and have a lifetime membership.


    I left AoC because their were so many bugs.  There was a lot I liked about the game and went back for the F2P and things were much better but crippled by a terribly limiting F2P system.


    I left WoW because it continued to speed up and trivialize the leveling content, it removed the few RPG components it had.  Every character is more or less a carbon copy of another with the same class.  While the game used to feel like a journey and every baby step forward felt like an accomplishment, not it feels like a vacant and empty rush to max followed by a shallow gear grind made up of repetitive gameplay.


  • AlomarAlomar Middle EarthPosts: 771Member Uncommon

    In my 13 year mmo history, I've played over 20 mmo's and had exit events at each. There's only been a handful of games I've never played to the level cap. The main "exit event" for me is endgame pvp. I don't enjoy small and linear "arena's" or "battlegrounds" I like open world and immersive pvp. If theres a type of siege warfare that goes along with it, then I'm enticed to stay with the game even longer.


    Even with my interest in endgame open world pvp, which only a few games have delivered on well (imo), I've never found a game that could keep me more than 3-6 months at a time. Therefore, in these instances the "exit event" is usually hitting the max rank, earning a full set of the highest tier of gear, and simply having participated in every type of pvp so many times it becomes dull. The unpredictability of pvp is what excites and retains me, I've yet to fully experience a game that provides endgame pvp to this extent.


    It's to my understanding that SWG, Warhammer, and DAOC provided excellent endgame open world pvp during their primes, but I never played these game's at launch. I played each of these game's years after their launches and all I found were dead servers and a shell of what once was. I'm hoping ESO delivers on open world pvp enough until CU releases.

    Fortes Fortuna Iuvat

    18 year MMO veteran 
    Retired PvP Raid Leader 
    Lover of The Witcher & CD Projekt Red

  • Cramit845Cramit845 Port Ewen, NYPosts: 394Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Torvaldr
    Originally posted by Ice-Queen
    Originally posted by Cramit845
    First of all, the state of the genre is cause of us, the people from the 90's are the people that made this genre in the first place, so all of the children who have been playing these games for the past 10 years can thank us for supporting the first games to make this genre huge.  In the end, Wow was made for the EQ and DAoC players because we wanted something new and to a point something more intuitive/easier and it wasn't made for all the teens that hopped on after it was a huge hit.  

    I disagree, the reason isn't us, it's those making the games. They are no longer making MMORPG's. They're trying to cater to everyone, kids,teens,adults,pvp players,pve players, console players, etc. They're not trying to focus on a specific audience, they're no longer working on mmorpg's with originality, they're no longer making mmorpg's that push the boundaries, come up with new ideas. That's why so called "mmorpg's" of today are failing to keep players.

    No it's you. The games aren't failing to keep players, they're failing to keep you and a few others like you. The fact that the genre is increasing in players and revenue indicates more people are satisfied with current and past offerings. If the majority are generally happy or satisfied then it's not the game it's you.

    The only reason first gen mmos were original is because they were the first offerings. They weren't even that original. UO being an online Ultima and Lineage / EQ being DIKUs. For some reason a small demographic expected every new game to be a completely new iteration. That doesn't seem realistic to me.

    Anyway, it's obviously your prerogative to be unsatisfied with how current games are created, but since you're in a small minority, it's only honest to acknowledge that it's you, not everyone else that is out of step.


    I don't think it is just us.  You make a valid point that to a good extent it is us.  Something I said earlier as well how ever I think you'll find, even from some peoples admissions in these comments, that they leave games for mechanics and other reasons rather quickly.  One person said above that they just don't stick with games to long. 

    I agree that the genre is far from dead, there are tons of games, whether they have huge populations or not doesn't really matter, as long as they have players playing making it worth to keep the game live, they are doing something right.  Even if they are just prolonging the inevitable.

    However I think some changes in game mechanics, something new but possibly also having some other mechanics from the older games would do the genre some good and help balance out a bit longer life.  People on the forums aren't the best way to perceive how the industry is doing but I don't think you can necessarily discount their ideas based on minority/majority.  Immersion and loss of friends to play with are my main reasons for leaving a game, and I think some of the slower moving MMO's, (ie harder, longer progressions, longer lvling) would do some real good.  The sandboxes I think are a good path for the developers to follow and I think we will find some games that suit everyone but I think that is what the industry is after, is that MMO that satisfies everyone like Wow and Eve seemed to do for awhile.

    I think we are in the beginning's of seeing more targeted or specialized MMO's coming out.  What I mean by targeted is not neccesarily genre like space or fantasy or whatever, because we are already seeing that, but more towards gameplay.  Pantheon is a good one to showcase this thought being one that is said to be a specific gameplay style, (PvE grouping) whether it makes it outta kickstarted though is another matter.

    So I think right now, the market is doing well but the market is also saturated with a lot of games that play the same way so there isn't as much to hang on to too keep players playing and that's not even necessarily the business plan of the developers/backers.  I'm thinking there will be a change in the coming future that will be more targeted that will keep players longer, although that's after they release the thinking of getting every single person they can.  Which they may never do.


    Heh, I can always be completely wrong...

  • trancejeremytrancejeremy St. Louis, MOPosts: 1,222Member Uncommon

    I've played a lot of MMORPGs, but I don't think I've ever reached the "endgame".


    To me, it seems like they design games for people who will make the game their second life. And if you don't, you simply can never "catch up". It's just so dispiriting, seeing how little progress you make in a game.

    Like in LOTRO, I've put it 100s of hours on my main over the course of 5 years, and yet am nowhere near the level cap. It just is so glacially slow...

    R.I.P. City of Heroes and my 17 characters there

  • AlverantAlverant Wheaton, ILPosts: 821Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by trancejeremy
    I've played a lot of MMORPGs, but I don't think I've ever reached the "endgame".   To me, it seems like they design games for people who will make the game their second life. And if you don't, you simply can never "catch up". It's just so dispiriting, seeing how little progress you make in a game. Like in LOTRO, I've put it 100s of hours on my main over the course of 5 years, and yet am nowhere near the level cap. It just is so glacially slow...

    That's not a bad thing. In STO I reached the level cap in 5 months. In NW it was about half that (if I didn't spend a weekend visiting family I could have reached the level cap while the game was in open beta). Fast level progression means leveling has lost meaning and player bordom as you begin the gear grind.

  • HystericHysteric USAPosts: 39Member Uncommon
    Real life just sometimes gets in the way
  • AlverantAlverant Wheaton, ILPosts: 821Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by FrinkiacVII
    The only MMOes I ever quit were CoH, twice (then had it killed while I was back in for the third time) and Atlantica.  Atlantica was basically a game I didn't want to play, but a friend told me to try it.  I did.  It didn't take.  I stopped fairly early.  With CoH, I quit twice.  The first time, I was fairly sure I just needed a break.  I came back in like a few months with almost no real prompting or rules changes needed to reel me back in.  The second time, I said "No, THIS time I really mean it, it's over..." and let a friend drive my account, telling him he could do whatever he wanted with it, delete characters, whatever.   The reason I left that time was a combination of the game starting to feel very grindy and the fact that my "CoH friends" never seemed to be online much anymore.  I think a lot of them fled to other games for the time being and or were spending more of their CoH time on the test server, which I didn't bother to get into.  My friend gave me my old account back after the game went F2P and within a day of being back I paid for a year of VIP again.  That was ~October of 2011.  In November of 2013 the game was killed.   

    I don't know if I'd call taking a break an "exit event" or "quitting". What Miller means is "leaving and never planning on coming back and I have the feeling you knew you would be back that first time.


    I won't deny that a good community keeps you in the game. I took a break when I got in a fight with my SG and was better for it in the end. From one COH player to another, I'm glad you came back twice despite what happened. It shows how good the game is when people return. Thank you.

  • jbombardjbombard SapporoPosts: 580Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Alverant
    Originally posted by trancejeremy
    I've played a lot of MMORPGs, but I don't think I've ever reached the "endgame".   To me, it seems like they design games for people who will make the game their second life. And if you don't, you simply can never "catch up". It's just so dispiriting, seeing how little progress you make in a game. Like in LOTRO, I've put it 100s of hours on my main over the course of 5 years, and yet am nowhere near the level cap. It just is so glacially slow...

    That's not a bad thing. In STO I reached the level cap in 5 months. In NW it was about half that (if I didn't spend a weekend visiting family I could have reached the level cap while the game was in open beta). Fast level progression means leveling has lost meaning and player bordom as you begin the gear grind.

    I love a long leveling experience.  I love the journey.  That said, you have to feel like you are making progress or you lose interest. The length isn't the problem.  Longer is better IMHO.  The problem is when it is long *and* boring/tedious or has no(very little) sense of progress along the way.  For me that is the problem with LotRO.  With WoW it has become so short, fast and meaningless the game feels shallow.

  • nennafirnennafir The Frozen NorthPosts: 313Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by rodingo
    This is where a little research on the part of the player can go a long way, at least for those who claim they only played a particular game for a few weeks then left becuase they were "bored".  If they played for a couple of months, then get bored I would actually sympathize.  Regardless, everything comes to an end to include game subs.   It gets to a point to were you just need to change sometimes to get out of a gaming rut.  Or it could be that the devs/publishers keep doing misstep after misstep.  I think there are so many variables though, that an article on the subject would barely scratch the surface.

    I want to give rodingo a lot of support...  Consider me to be fully supporting him/her.

  • geoxer2222geoxer2222 pasadena, TXPosts: 40Member
    I think people get tired seeing and doing the same shit everyday. But were coming up on new era of games that they are adding building functions to the game and if just add custom server based option to that with random worlds i think a game would have more life to it, with good amount content too of coarse
  • eindinblocheindinbloch Dallas, TXPosts: 60Member

    First of all, very interesting article.  This is the subject that could easily be (and probably is) the subject of many white papers.  It applies to software in general, not just games.

    The complications that games have in particular are that one, games are the expression of someone else's artistic opinion, and two, unlike other works of entertainment such as movies, they are expected to be enjoyed over a long period of time.

    As works of art, everyone will have a different opinion.  You only like post-impressionistic style paintings? Sorry, this is abstract modern art.  You really like playing science fiction games with extremely realistic space flight?  Sorry, this is a sudo-fantasy sci-fi game that only has space travel for trasportation between planets.  For video games, alot of this might be due to time or technological restraints, but either way, it is what it is.

    The other aspect, time, means that players must continue to enjoy the game for a long period of time, be that 4 hours of grinding through a short single-player game, or 10,000 hours of playing an MMO.  Even if the player likes the game, they don't necessarily want to play it for 10,000 hours.  So developers have to craft a world that is interesting and that has sustaining playability and replayability for a huge demographic of players.

    I know for myself, I am extremely picky about what kind of world, what kind of character, what kind of music, etc. in the games I play.  If the combination isn't perfect, the chances of me playing the game for more than a few days is slim.  It can't be easy as a game developer.

  • TheCrow2kTheCrow2k Adelaide, AKPosts: 953Member
    Ultimately its usually boredom. If the game is boring people leave, be it a week after launch or 3 months. This is the main resin pure themepark MMO's have such poor population stability.
  • itchmonitchmon west islip, NYPosts: 1,787Member Uncommon

    thanx for a very thought provoking article!


    i would like to see the logical follow up: what finally gets us to return?  because we all do, dont we?


    for me i'll speak for just a couple games out of the bazillion ive played; all of these games i either have, or would, return to.


    for everquest, the launch of ffxi was the exit event ... i still enjoyed eq but i HAD to try "a final fantasy eq".


    for ffxi, ironically, it was the launch of eq2.  funny how sentimentaity works hm?


    for atlantica, it was the realization that, crap, i will have to spend thousands of bucks on this free game.


    for potbs, it started to feel "samey" which was a departure from the experience of progressing to the endgame constantly trying out cool new ships.


    for wow, they took too much customization away when they did away with talent trees.


    for lineage 2,  similar to atlantica, it kinda hit me i will have to rmt adena to play this game at a successful level.


    the only game so far not to give me an exit event?  eve.

    RIP Ribbitribbitt you are missed, kid.

    Currently Playing EVE, DFUW

    Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed.

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  • JITBxvxJITBxvx Augusta, KSPosts: 1Member Uncommon

    So I might be in the minority, but I'll throw my 2 cents in:

    For EQ, I left when they instituted levels caps on items...after working weeks to make the plat necessary to buy a more powerful item...then a week later it's stats were lowered when they launched the new system. Weeks of work down the drain...exit.

    WoW was one of the "sharpest" drops I've ever had. I don't mind the long as there's a reward based on skill or time spent (not "I got the lucky roll"). Played mulitple 85's (with maxed professions) right before the launch of MoP, and was working on daily crafting recipes (grindfest, but the rewards were worth it for a small-guild crafter) when the new expansion dropped. Professions at max in the old expansion were useless, and professions that I'd worked on for hundreds of hours were attainable in tens of hours under the new system. Case in point, my highest enchantment was +30 something to a stat. The new expansion (5 skill points away) gave +130 to the stats...making all my work useless...and even worse for a small guild, we'd lost a good money maker. Exit...stage and three other guildies.

    I don't mind the characters being one-sided...a warrior smashes things...fine. But if you've got a one-trick'd better make sure it's got the best trick in the a long shot. On that note: introducing new characters/classes which are basically distilled from all the best things from other classes. WoW's new Monk is a great example..."Any thing you can do I can do better" or "as well" is a horrible thing to be able to say to every other class in the game. When one class gets all the perks at the expense of making others "optional"...that's bad for the game. Make me irrelevant...or "optional" after hours and hours of hard work: Exit.

  • CymdaiCymdai Raleigh, NCPosts: 1,038Member Uncommon

    It always, always comes down to the same few things.


    1) A boring, monotonous, raid-centric endgame, where you grind faction and run raids with people you don't want to run raids with for minor gear improvements. Raids should be epic, a one-time, "HOLY ****!" moment, not a "Good try guys, we'll give it a shot again on tuesday..." mentality.


    2) The fact that crafting legitimately always ends up being useless. It's an endless money sink that ultimately has no reward beyond "HEY, I MADE THIS!". Raiding always becomes more powerful in terms of item quality, and crafting is always boring, over-simplified, and monotonous.


    3) Zero emphasis on player-centric content. I don't want static expansions every month. How about something cool and unique, like a server-specific guild becoming villains for the month, where everyone can kill them on sight? That'd be different, that'd be memorable. Instead, we get "Here's a new dungeon with uninspired gear!" Bleh.


    Waiting for something fresh to arrive on the MMO scene...

  • jesadjesad Posts: 879Member Uncommon

    I think the thing is that you can't allow a player to look up from the keyboard.  Because when they look up they suddenly realize that they have put a massive amount of time into something completely selfish.

    I mean think about it.  Who is your character really as important to other than you?  Nobody really.  And once you realize that, every other little thing becomes that much bigger of a deal and it becomes that much more difficult to convince you to bury your head again.

    All of the reasons that have been listed can do this, but once it has been done, that's all she wrote, you are no longer hardcore.  Oh you still might be hardcore compared to a lot of other people.  But you know in your heart that you are not nearly as bad as you were before you looked up that first time.

    The only way a developer can fix this, I believe, is by focusing on the game, in its entirety, as an entity to be improved upon and sacrificing that first round of players, who are going to eat through that first round of content, in the name of future players, who should have to come through the ranks at the same pace as that first round, but who will get to do so in a much larger game.

    The current, expansion, reset, fix the game so that new players can level fast to meet up with what is left of the old, is not a long term solution and even worse it cheapens everything that the first rounders did to get where they are.

  • cosycosy ColentinaPosts: 3,228Member Uncommon

    family and kids is what "take away time from PC gaming"

    eve online off-line character progression helps so you dont have to spend to much time farming, using PLEX in one hour of work can buy more stuff via plex that ingame farming for same time and when you use PLEX some kid/poor country player will be happy to play "for free"


    BestSigEver :P

  • IselinIselin Vancouver, BCPosts: 8,763Member Epic

    At one time or another, I have said that I left Game "X" because they din't add feature "Y" or they did add feature "Z" or they ruined the game balance (a.k.a. they nerfed my class.)


    But if I'm being totally honest, it's usually because I have a wandering MMO eye: some new shiny caught my's just that simple.


    I've always enjoyed learning complex games. Before computer games I did it with board war games. The more complex the better. Learning and mastering new systems is what I get the most enjoyment from in gaming. I'm always on the lookout for a new challenge.

  • GAANJAAGAANJAA cornwallPosts: 9Member

    well i cant answer for anyone else but the reason i leave mmo's (and i have played and left most of them out there) is because im still searching for that perfect mmo, unfortunately i dont think it exsists....


  • MitaraMitara NAPosts: 682Member Uncommon
    Funny past this author has, considering this article and the fate City of Heroes ended up having. He must not really know exactly what he is talking about.
  • AmargosaAmargosa OffenbachPosts: 8Member

    Thanks for your column. It inspired me to write something on my own blog too. Reasons to leave MMOs.

    There are many reasons why you would log out for the last time. Some things can be fixed. Some can't. The problem is even if you fix it, it is very difficult to get players back. Those are already invested in something new.

    Keeping existing players is important because they do the word of mouth work for you. Much better and faster any marketing could do.

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