Understanding WHY we Play "OLD MMORPGs" in 2020!
I was browsing around earlier when I saw someone ask the question: “Why am I playing old MMORPG’s in 2019?”
That is actually a very good question. Right now I’m finishing up my playthrough of the most recent content in Final Fantasy XIV so I can do an updated video on it next week. I’m also making my way through World of Warcraft, Elder Scrolls Online, Black Desert and Guild Wars 2.
I mean heck, I even go back to older games like FlyFF or Tales of Pirates occasionally. I know a lotta you guys have similar issues – otherwise those games would no longer be as densely populated as they currently are.
So why is that?
Nostalgia. Nostalgia is one of the most cardinal justifications behind why people play “old” MMOs as opposed to new ones. Nostalgia is most aptly described as being a bittersweet amalgamation of both positive and negative emotions that arise when people think back on events – meaningful events that took place in one’s past.
So in essence, players’ relationship with MMOs they’ve played in the past – but not necessarily limited to MMOs, games of all kinds and genres, really, and the characters that inhabit those games play an important role in invoking nostalgia.
There are actually quite a few case studies that took place documenting, quite thoroughly I might add, how nostalgia has played a large part in keeping games, and gaming franchises alive over time.
That’s why Pokemon Go was so popular even though it was such a large departure from the series’ norm and why games that feature Mario or Sonic continue to sell millions of copies.
But nostalgia, at least pertaining to MMOs is a little different. Often, we’re found revisiting our first MMO. It’s what got us into the genre in the first place.
It provided our first escape, our first adventure into the unknown. Perhaps one of the first times we ever had the ability to play with hundreds, thousands of players. To form connections in a world contrastingly different from our own.
To be something that we couldn’t, to meet people that you normally wouldn’t.
This applies to larger games like World of Warcraft more than it does something like Guild Wars 2 or Final Fantasy XIV.
People that played WoW played the game during what I’ll label “The Great MMO Boom.” This was a time when there were tens of millions of players gathering together in a single MMO. There were 10, 20, 30 MMOs with populations numbering in the millions, in the tens of millions.
This was a time when the genre was still much more in its infancy. There wasn’t hand-holding like there is today. There weren’t large Youtuber’s and streamers that were creating video guides on how to get that extra 1% damage. On how to handle each and every mechanic.
There weren’t addons available to give you an advantage over mechanics, to tell you where to stand, to tell you what skill to use in response to the enemy.
I mean sure there were addons, but compare what we have now to what was available in the early to mid-2000’s.
So when Blizz announced that WoW Classic was coming, millions of players were ecstatic, and millions of players flocked back to the game.
That surge in popularity has declined quite significantly over the duration of its life after players found the game to be easier than expected, an example of this difficulty being a guild completing Molten Core on the first week of Classic’s release.
People often believe that “older MMOs” were more difficult. And they definitely were. But part of that difficulty was only possible due to the lack of information available to us at the time.
I don’t think MMOs will ever be that difficult again, and I know difficulty plays a large part in people failing to continue through a game. “This game is too easy,” is a sentiment echoed far too often in the genre these days, and I completely understand the reasoning behind why.
Newer MMOs focus too much on the casual-aspect of the game, often times forgoing depth and community for ease-of-access.
Group finder is one of the largest issues found in modern-MMOs and while I’m more than fine with it – I have limited time after all and it allows me to jump right into a dungeon or raid, I understand the social impact it had.
Removal of the group finder forces players to actively seek out and socialize with one another – something that a lot of us no longer do.
It’s small things like this that make older MMOs more appealing. Instances of polish that are no longer present.
“Old MMOs” are often slower, clunkier and less visually appealing to people, especially players that grew up with games like Black Desert or Blade & Soul.
But for those of us that grew up with those slower, clunkier and objectively less “attractive” games.. you’ll probably find us in games like WoW, Final Fantasy XIV, Star Wars the Old Republic, Old School RuneScape, Ultima Online and the like.
Not because new MMORPGs are bad, but because there are aspects of old MMORPGs that are just better to some of us.
So, why are we playing “old MMORPGs” in 2020? For some of us, nostalgia. For some of us, features that are no longer prevalent in the genre today. And for the rest? Because these games are more populated and a lot of people are sheep – flocking to whatever is “most popular.”