Many of the older games where initially designed to last for years of progression without many barriers. Asheron's Call was one of the best examples of this in history. It was not feasible to obtain the maximum level, stats, etc upon release. It was designed properly so new content would expand allow for faster growth, but at a managed level that wasn't manipulated.
It truly allowed an "Infinite progression system"
Today's system are not designed this way. They increase the level caps, instant level, put in a gear treadmill and straight out manipulate everything. The gear becomes obsolete, new hard caps are quickly reached and it's a very faulty design.
One of the worst aspects is: Direct Manipulation
Black Desert Online is one of the worst offenders of this, but I have seen it in many games. It can be done in a variety of ways. BDO simply makes a level 60 for example cost 60 Million exp.
For simple math lets say that takes 1,000 hours.
- In a well designed natural system updates, new equipment/creatures etc would make it easier to obtain. So a player might be able to achieve that in 950 hours instead. This is a normal part of game updates and age
- Manipulation: What BDO has done on MANY occasions is not only release higher content, but change the game rules so it now takes 20 Million Exp in addition to the updates. Then a few updates later change it to 5 million.
This results in the complete destruction of months/years worth of work over time. What Hardcore grinders spent 1,000's of hours on can now be obtained in a few hours. It destroys the entire point of investing into the game.
I saw a flashback video on a game that stated it took months of hardcore grinding to get level 50, and now it's less than 6 hours.
That is NOT how the games where designed many years ago. They where worth investing a lot of time into, but today there is a huge risk in a lot of games that everything you do will simply be wiped away in a few updates.