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MMORPGs: 75% = Game Over

Michael "Macstorm" Cunningham

It has happened to me twice now. In Final Fantasy XI it took a year and a half. In World of Warcraft it took six months. I guess that it's just my boiling point, but MMORPGs just lose me at about 75% in.

In Final Fantasy XI, I played a Galka Warrior. I reached level 58 out of 75 before losing interest. FFXI was my very first MMO and I got really caught up in it. I had a wonderful Linkshell and many other good gaming friends. The social aspect of the game was wonderful, but somewhere around the 75% mark the game began to derail for me.

I had obtained all of my Warrior AF armor, though I didn't get around to equipping it all at level 60. I had defeated the Shadow Lord and had begun working on both the Zilart and Promathia Missions. I had lots of new things ahead of me during the last quarter of the game, but I just couldn't bring myself to continue. Why would I stop after spending all that time questing for my beloved armor? Why would I stop after investing night after night completing missions and gaining levels? I couldn't answer it. I wasn't bored with MMOs. I wasn't pressed by real life issues. I couldn't figure it out, but I just stopped playing FFXI.

I picked up World of Warcraft shortly after quitting Final Fantasy XI. I enjoyed this bright new world and began investing many hours into it. I heard many cries from former FFXI players of the salvation that WoW was now offering them. Was I like them? Did I harbor some subconscious hatred toward FFXI? Sure I had some bad times while playing the game, but I didn't feel like that was the sole reason I quit. Still, I couldn't quite put my finger on exactly why I had quit.

I decided to just put all questions out of my mind and set some new goals for WoW. I was going to take my Human Warlock all the way to 60. After all, it sure didn't seem to be nearly as difficult to do as in FFXI. I had a wonderful time in WoW, completing instances, collecting new equipment and exploring new places. But before I knew it, I was at level 47 and I was losing interest. I didn't realize that I was around the 75% mark at the time. It wasn't even until after I had stopped playing that I even noticed the 75% mark, but the feeling was the same as in FFXI, that much I knew.

I ended up quitting WoW the same as I had FFXI. No real reason other than losing interest. Why? Was there nothing left to do? No, there was almost more to do at later levels. Finally, I came to see where my drive had been during the first 75% of the game. My driving force was character development.

Now the exponential growth of an MMO character works really well for someone in the first part of a game. The jump from the ugly level 21 robe to a nice, new robe at level 25 is not a very far jump. However the jump from a level 47 head piece to a level 55 one seems like a lifetime for a causal gamer. Character development just seems to flat line at the 75% mark.

It seems like the focus of MMO developers focuses heavily on the end game content with so many people waiting there. However, I think that the developers should seriously look at saturating the 75-100% content instead of focusing mainly on the 100% end game mark. It might just help people like me stay in for the long haul and might make the trip more enjoyable for those going through it again.

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