What Makes an MMO Unappealing to you?

WoW - Talbuk Sunset

Hello and welcome to today’s edition of Isarii wrote a really long Reddit response and decided it would make a good blog post. Today’s post comes courtesy of the r/MMORPG subreddit where a user posed the titular question: what makes an MMO unappealing to you?

There are few things I enjoy more than complaining about MMOs, so I jumped right in.

I’m going to respond to this with things that have stopped me from playing MMOs that I otherwise enjoyed, because I think this is more useful than listing things that I see in a trailer or figure out within the first few hours of gameplay that allow me to immediately deduce that the game isn’t for me. While there are a lot of things that land an MMO solidly in the “this game isn’t for me” category, it’s far more interesting to look at the little things that can bring down otherwise acceptable games instead of commenting when “the combat feels awful” or “it’s pay-to-win” or “it’s Asian”.

No Overworld Grouping

First, I’m not going to be a happy adventurer if I spend almost all of my time in the game’s overworld solo, especially if I feel like there’s no reason to group up at all outside of instances like dungeons and raids.

I’ve been playing The Elder Scrolls Online a lot recently – and this has really matured into a pretty solid game – but outside of dungeons, trials (raids), and PvP, I don’t really group for anything almost ever. It’s not even just that I don’t feel like I need to, but I feel like grouping actively makes most of the overworld experience worse, just because of the way that content is designed.

Even if you’re wanting to keep the game accessible and not go full on “you have to have a group to leave town!”, I think Guild Wars 2‘s public dynamic event based approach is a much better philosophy for open world content. While those events mostly take a group of players to get through, solo players are naturally able to work on the events together without having to seek each other out beforehand, and are drawn to those events naturally because of the way the game is designed. As for the way it addresses my personal problems, I always feel like I can group up with others in the overworld without sacrificing my own fun or productivity by doing so.

Preponderance of Cosmetics from Cash Shop instead of Gameplay

I feel like I’m becoming a bit more casual as I grow older. This is to be expected, of course, but I think it’s worth pointing out as it informs where I’m coming from a bit on the next point.

I like grinding for cosmetics some times. That’s not all I do, but it’s nice to have long term goals like farming an awesome mount or getting a specific item skin for your transmog / wardrobe / appearance system of choice. The fashion meta is important to me, okay?

Now I know the days of subscription only MMOs are behind us. Even World of Warcraft has a big fat cash shop full of items that could have been obtainable in game. But at least WoW is still doing a good job of adding stuff to be obtained through in-game means. Other MMOs are not being as tactful; SWTOR and Black Desert are the heavy offenders here, but even TESO is a little bit grating since every single mount or pet invariably ends up in the cash shop instead of the game.

Whenever I play a game like this, I feel like an entire portion of the game – one as big as dungeons or battlegrounds or whatever else you like – has been removed completely from the game’s ecosystem to be butchered on the altar of microtransactions. As someone who has spent hours and hours collecting rare mounts and transmog sets, it’s like one of my favorite parts of themepark MMOs has just disappeared overnight.

Is it unbalancing like competitive pay-to-win? No, but it just really sucks that this style of play isn’t offered almost anywhere anymore. It’s like if I went shopping for clothes and suddenly, all of the shirts were being sold with only one sleeve.

If anyone has any suggestions for games that don’t suck on this front, I’d be interested to hear.

Now admittedly, these are more recent quibbles than giant, genre-destroying, deal breaking problems, but “unappealing” is a pretty open ended question, so I decided to go for the little things games I actually enjoy do that really bother me.

I’m curious if other people have similar little problems that bother them a lot with games they still mostly enjoy.

7 thoughts on “What Makes an MMO Unappealing to you?

  1. I hate things like Haris Pilton and jokes of similar ilk. I am very serious about maintaining an internal consistency to a world that promotes immersion and respects itself as more than just a cheap video game for people to sink 40+ hours into.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lack of Overworld group content is something World of Warcraft has recieved a lot of flak for since like at least Wrath of the Lich King. With the upcoming Expansion, Legion, they are adding a “World Quest” system which are kind of like GW2 events in a way. There will be several of them per zone on your map and range from solo content up to world bosses, with rares for 1-2 people and elite rares for around a group of 5. Tagging for overworld stuff now faction wide and capped at 5 players for smaller enemies like the ones for the solo quests.

    There’s probably other things that make MMOs unappealing to me outside of cashshop BS is lack of meaningful and challenging raids, I do realize that I fall into a certain subset of players here, but my favorite MMOs in recent years have been WoW, FFXIV, and Rift before it became F2P BS, all 3 games feature fantastic raids, while SWToR was a buggy mess, ESO trials were not interesting, and everything else has been PvP focused.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dammit Phazius, you’re going to make me play WoW again. Nobody wants that.

      It sounds interesting though. It’s a shame it’s not dynamic, but it does like a vaguely interesting twist on dailies, depending on how much diversity you have in events. It would have been amazing if they had been able to go almost fully dynamic on the new continent.


  3. Agreed on the group content, but I understand why MMOs get solo friendly. That’s a huge pet peeve of mine with MMOs. I’d much rather solo a single player game – I have plenty in my backlog for that.

    The typical level treadmill, vertical progression splits and splits the community with it eventually getting top heavy. Going group centric can make it impossible to progress once low level populations plummet. Solo content for the majority of leveling means you can always reach the top where the grouping happens eventually. It’s not like vertical progression can’t have a reason to go back to lower level areas though. The job system from Final Fantasy MMOs come to mind and not so coincidentally grouping has always been a strong point.

    The most unappealing thing for me is still more or less a staple of the genre and that’s mindless PvE content as the primary route of progression. I enjoy challenging combat systems (which typically involve grouping so the above is very relevant), but most games require you to go through generic enemies slowly progressing to get to the challenging stuff (whether it’s PvE or PvP challenge).


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