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First you have World of Warcraft and all the frills that come with it. But lets put the game aside for the point I'm making.
Much more importantly you have people talking, planning, grouping, trading….. This is huge for longevity.
Each time you set out on the same path in Darkshore You could potentially run into different players that could change your plans for the adventure. This subtle change in routine may seem small but its powerful….. Much like real life, how would you feel if daily conversations were the same day in and day out. SINCE THEIR NOT, this brings diversity in how your day unravels. This is your motivation for getting up in the morning….. So why not in an mmorpg.
The need for others is what sets first and second generation mmorpgs apart from modern carrot on a stick games.
Sure a person can play 1-60 without any human contact. It's not a terribly hard game. That’s part of the awesomeness. It can be for everyone and every style of player or a slide bar of everything in between.
This also leads to replay ability…. Sick of the same old people at level 45 ? Start a "new class" and find a different adventure playing with new people. Yes, on the same server !
I've been playing Vanilla World of Warcraft continually on and off since 2005.
Always by myself I venture to Alterac Mountains, and never came close to having the same experience twice, not even close. The PEOPLE THERE MAKE THE DIFFERENCE !
This in one in a thousand examples I could give