Kill Ten Rats has a nice post on the happiness of single game players. Good enough for me to transcribe & expand my comment, and worth a bit of your eyeball time.
In a nut shell: are people happy with wow because they know no other options for game play exist, or is the choice to play a single game only actually a valid cognitive decision?
What was revelatory for me at one point was that there were people who thought of themselves not as gamers, not as MMO gamers, but as WoW players. They are not interested in the genre, in seeing competing implementations, in the next MMO coming out… They just play WoW. Hardcore or casual, this is their game, done, the way some people are baseball or football fans (a perspective that had not occurred to me until I typed it, which suddenly makes “one game” make a lot more sense, although most seem to be “sports fans” who need a group of sports to make it through the other seasons).
I’m an almost single game player. I’ve tried eve, ran screaming from DDO and LoTR, and looked enough at Rift, Conan, and Warhammer to know that WoW was a better game for my taste and therefore not worth changing from. That is the key for me, my current taste is well served by wow and while I’ll happily look at other games; there is little in the market which is enticing a change. My taste may change too, but for now wow is ok enough.
This was not always the case though. Before I played wow I played a wide range of games, and was always buying new ones. Not because I was keen to experiment, but because I like a narrow band of games and wow is in that band. There is no reason to pay for a new game when the current subscription is doing the job. I dread to consider the amount of money I wasted on games in the past, where the play time was around 15-30 hours and then it was done.
A game has to be worth the sticker price. Apart from World of Warcraft my favourite game is Master of Orion 2. It is now ancient, but still had the right balance of management and action for a turn based game. The updated version 3 was horrid and seemed to miss the “game” that was delivered with the v2.
Add to this the investment of time in terms of what has been achieved for me in WoW, and it is hard to argue with wow as a fundamentally good offer; for me. I know that this statement is somewhat recursive, as the more time spent, the more investment you have; but it is true to my ape brain. The subscription cost per month is the equivalent of two drinks. Even if I only play for 10 hours a month, the cost is almost inconsequential.
But WoW has its flaws too. Like I said, they do the things I like well, and I tend to stay away from the aspects of wow that I dislike (pvp, pet and mount collecting to name two). Blizzard has created many features that I’d rather not have, or moved in directions that I dislike – and you cannot have everything.
I doubt I’ll find a game that meets all my perfect criteria, and if I did it would probably have such a small player base as to be not economically viable for long.
In terms of getting all the features, I actually think it is better to do less features very well, than do every feature in an average way. A narrow and loyal market segment can be widened, but it is very hard to grow wide when you’re not already doing something to retain customers. Simple games also can be powerful in the market. Do one thing well and have the opportunity to show your expertise.
Happy gaming – TyphoonAndrew