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!