The Cure for the 3 Month MMO Lies With Us

There’s been a lot of soul searching in blog-land lately about the rise of the “3 month MMO”, the term coined last year by Keen to indicate “disposable” MMOs where people rush in, look at the shiny, and then rush back out again. To be fair some folks aren’t interested in a more longterm experience, and this suits them just fine. For others though, and traditionally in this niche market, the “3 month MMO” trend indicates a move away from the virtual worlds and communities that were once popular.

Fortunately, I have a solution for those who are looking for one! I am going to publish it here for the world to see, free, for you all. Ready?

STEP ONE. Find an MMO that you generally enjoy.
STEP TWO. Play it for more than three months.

Thanks for stopping by to read!

… Okay so to be fair those two steps skip over a lot of nuance, but it really can be that simple. No, you don’t have to love everything about the game. You don’t have to only play that MMO and eschew all other games. You don’t have to play every day, or only raid or not raid. However: if you miss the feeling of having a longterm home in a game, the answer is to make your longterm home in a game. Seriously.

I’m absolutely not saying that developers and publishers don’t have a hand in the fracturing of MMO communities, with their absurdly high barrier for “success” and concern for dollars over gameplay. But we players have also collectively contributed to the “3 month MMO” phenomenon by perpetually looking over the horizon at what’s coming, and not enjoying what’s here. I don’t think there has ever been the selection of MMOs that we have now, and no matter what your priorities are I suspect there is a game for everyone who wants to experience being part of a community.

Three months ago I wrote about being tired of feeling virtually homeless and deciding to set down some roots in the game I found the most appealing. Other games have launched since then and I’ve played a bit of almost all of them, but I stuck with my primary game even in the early days when it felt a little weird and I worried quite a bit about what “everyone else” was doing.

The results have been awesome for me, frankly. By treating RIFT as my “home game”, I’ve developed a much fonder relationship with it and with my character. I care about Mercredi the cleric, and that caring means I can log on and fish (and chat) for an hour and feel satisfaction from otherwise technically rewardless character development. I care about the world, and am more likely to climb to the top of a mountain because it’s there. I recognize names on my server, and my friends list has been growing. A few other guildies around me who also enjoyed RIFT recognized the new sense of permanence, and came along to make their homes there too.

Now I realize that this is just an anecdote, and everyone is different, but I truly believe in this advice! Don’t worry about the next game, don’t worry about how game X is bigger than yours, or whatever.

If you feel like you’re missing permanence and community in the current MMO market, pick your current favorite MMO and play it. For most of us, it honestly is that simple.

PS: This post was inspired by a comment Shintar made on another site. Thanks, Shintar!

Author: Jessica Cook

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9 Comments

  1. It can be difficult to settle down for a long stretch in an MMO with so many shiny “grass is always greener” options out there. I always find a draw in new worlds to explore… and the call of nostalgia when it comes to worlds I have already visited.

    For me, a core of regular friends is the best way settle down. Our Saturday night group has been settled into Rift for nearly a year now, and I have been playing EVE Online… which is different enough in play style and commitment that it can co-exist with Rift in a way that something like WoW or LOTRO might not… for nearly as long with a friend I have been playing online games with since the early 90s.
    Wilhelm Arcturus´s last post: Support Your Local Indie MMO

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    • Absolutely — I believe creating social ties (or coming to a game with existing social ties) is the best indicator of how “sticky” a player finds a game.

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  2. I kinda wonder if a lot of the current malaise about the short lifespans of personal connection to MMOs isn’t partially because of the lack of social connection in games. If you go into a game with the attitude of “I don’t have time to get deeply involved with the community”, then it might make sense that people are not going to find the deep connection to the MMO they have in other games. I’ve noticed a lot of articles that can be summarized as “Yeah, I don’t talk to people in GW2, but that’s fine because the gameplay transcends mere mortal words!” I can’t help but feel this is people trying to internally justify not making social connections, and that we’re going to see a paralled between GW2 and SWtOR soon. (The one benefit is that GW2 doesn’t have to admit to anything as revealing as subscriber figures, so they can continue to pretend everything is fine even if play figures mirror SWtOR perfectly.)

    Time will tell, I guess.
    Brian ‘Psychochild’ Green´s last post: The misunderstood role of community management

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    • I am terribly biased in favor of me always being right (hee hee), but I agree that the lack of social connections usually means a lack of commitment to a game. If you see a world as your “home”, then you’ll probably make more of an effort to meet your neighbours.

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  3. You’re welcome! Seriously though, I was really impressed with how you solved the whole “3 monther” issue for yourself and I absolutely do believe that you have the right of it.
    Shintar´s last post: Novare Coast Forever!

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  4. I just upgraded my PC and I am jumping from game to game like a bee on crack just to see how they look on my beefed up rig. I am playing everything but not particularly enjoying anything because I cannot settle on one particular game. What you wrote resonates with me.
    Often I stick to a game because I enjoy it, but sometimes I find myself enjoying a game just because I consciously choose to stick to it. LotRO is one such game. The more time I invested in it the more I found myself enjoying Middle-earth. Having just pre-paid a full year of Rift I am hoping it will also turn into a semi-permanent fixture for me. Of course, since time is limited, I have to actively stop playing some games and at this point its very hard to decide which game should go. I cannot keep up with regular and frequent Rift, LotRO, GW2 and now Torchlight 2. Sadly they all seem to deserve my attention at the moment (Plus others such as Borderlands 2 and WoW:MoP). Its hard to decide where to draw a line.
    Mighty Viking Hamster´s last post: Life After Guild Wars 2

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    • LotRO is a great game to stick with, too, in my opinion! You’re right, though.. choosing to stick with one game does usually mean that just due to time limitations you have to take another title or two out of your rotation.

      I think you’re Guardian in RIFT, if I recall, but now with the faction change if you don’t have a RIFT home you’re certainly welcome to join our uber-casual band on Deepwood. :)

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    • Oh, neat Mangle! I’m not surprised honestly. I think there are a number of things in life that we would handle better if we all weren’t collectively so drawn to the new shiny.

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