When I was 32 years old (I am now 55) I had a friend I worked with tell me about this game he was playing called "Everquest". This was in 1999. I was in the computer business, at the time teaching Microsoft Certification courses. I had a decent PC and good Internet (for the time). I never really played PC games, it just wasn't my thing. My friend REALLY liked this game, so I bought it, loaded it up, to see what all the fuss was about.
I was shown this screen, the character creation screen, where I could make my "toon" look anyway I wanted, my first exposure to personalized gaming. After too long personalizing my toon, I entered the game and was shown this amazing make believe world. I learned the controls, found the map key and really got an idea of size of this world I was to embark on. This was amazing.
5000+ hours later, maxing out every possible character, maxing out every single skill, meeting so many great people, playing so late into the night, raiding the Plane of Fear where we had just flat out fantastic FUN, laughing so hard it would make you cry. These were what I call, The Good Ole Days of MMO's. It didn't matter who you were, how much you could play, your skill level, everybody helped everyone else and we had fun.
Oh, how the times have changed. With Everquest, you bought the box and paid a 15 dollar subscription, period. The game at the time was run by Sony. They made a monthly profit, put out expansions to keep revenue going, and bringing in new players, it worked because the competition was really low. It just worked. Then came WoW. WoW changed the whole game...
There were two things that made WoW so popular, the number one thing and still works for them today, is you can play WoW with even the most modest PC/Ram/Internet Connection this leading to number two, Blizzard had reach, global reach they could reach countries which Sony did not do. And due to the very low PC specs and Internet speed needed to play, this brought in millions of players.
When WoW came out, I was really at the end of my Everquest Journey, there just wasn't anything I had not done in Everquest. I was ready for this new challenge. I jumped into WoW the very first second I could. I don't know what I expected, but something felt wrong. For me at least, it seemed the "danger" was gone, I didn't feel the "risk" I did in Everquest. Dying had no real consequences, I mean real painful risk. I stopped playing after a few months and moved on.
So many MMO's have come and gone since then, and I have played them all (or most of them). From DDO to Conan to Lord of The Rings and finally the last I played was Black Desert, I played them all and have had my share of fun and excitement, but for me nothing has grasped me like Everquest did. I am sure this is pretty much like your "first love", it is just different.
Now, these gaming companies are using my love of the MMO against me. They have made these games a competition, pitting player against player, selling "Pixels" for profit. What a fantastic scam this is, items that can be created and lines of code in a game to make them useful, and selling 100's if not 1000's of them to players who are so afraid someone will have an advantage they don't have they psychologically feel they MUST HAVE that item.
These companies have learned, if we see these separate items for sale in their game BEFORE it is released, we will not buy it. So they purposely say during development "We Promise No P2W", and we think oh great, they understand we find this unacceptable. We buy their game, start playing and a few months in, after we are already invested in the game, playing with our friends and having fun, they slowly start to add these small items. A few at first, small items that really don't change the game that much so we ignore them, and play on. Then they add an item that is clearly meant to extract money from those players who already feel left behind in some way or players (usually PVP Types) who thinks if I buy this item, I might get a leg up on my competition. This is simple manipulation, playing on gamers fears or aspirations.
One example I can give, but their are THOUSANDS, is Pets in Black Desert Online. Any BDO player knows, if your even remotely serious about playing BDO you HAVE to have Pets. Looting has always been one of those time consuming things we just do, but when looting 10 to 20 mobs at a time really gets tedious. Time in BDO equals Money and Experience, more time because you have pets equals faster experience and more money. They know, when we see the advantages, we will pay because it just makes sense. This is such a must have item, why don't they just give new players pets? Simple, they know you will PAY even for something that should be included.
For the last 5 years or so I have seen this play out over and over again, companies promising one thing and doing another, most reasonable people call that lying. Why the Bless Online Dev's are "Shocked and Amazed" of the backlash from gamers when they hide the "Cash Shop", and leave out details on what "Premium Service" really means, as well as why the MMO Community is NOT going to take their word their game is not P2W, should just look at the history of the MMO's that came before them and how we the community are sick and tired of being lied to, and would like one simple thing...Be Transparent!!!
I apologize, I needed to vent.