Shame Of The Year – I Won’t Play An MMO For 400 Hours

In 2021, I played New World for 400 hours. In 2022, I played Lost Ark for 400 hours. I haven’t touched either of those games for some months now, and all that time I spent with them feels largely wasted—although it was fun while it lasted. MMOs are designed to be compelling, especially when they’re brand-new and the excitement is super fresh. There’s nothing like day one in an MMO, when everyone is on the same level, spreading out over this fresh canvas. Uh oh. I’m starting to get whimsical about MMOs again. This year, I won’t spend 400 hours in one.

I am, however, still excited about what’s next for MMOs. Blue Protocol is supposedly getting its first betas early in 2023 and will be released sometime by summer, Ashes Of Creation is somewhere out there on the horizon, and NCSoft’s Throne And Liberty might be released in the second half of this year. That’s without mentioning ArcheAge 2, the unnamed Riot MMO, and Dune: Awakening. MMO fans will be eating good over the next couple of years. I’m just not sure if I’ve got it in me to dedicate quite that much time to these games.

Part of that is to do with my job. I write guides for MMOs, which means I have to and will play these games, but it also means that some of that spark of enjoyment is lost. Look, I’m not complaining about making money while playing games, I’m just suggesting that finding every node of Iron on an enormous map can turn a fun experience into a tedious one. It’s my plan this year to better balance my work-life balance. Sometimes it feels like there’s some expectation for me to continue working on these games well into the night, but I know that only pisses off my boss.

MMOs also eat up the rest of my time, that’s the problem. They are huge games. I played New World for 400 hours in total and felt like I got pretty far, but I didn’t max out my gear score and never got around to properly exploring the latest area added to the game. Likewise, I progressed pretty far in Lost Ark, getting two or three 1300+ Item Level characters, but that’s still nowhere near ‘completing’ the game. In a good MMO, there is no completing a game. They last forever.

When New World was released, I was staying in an apartment in Bilbao. The weather had been really nice all week and a friend was in town, but this was the game I’d been waiting for. I’d planned out guides, got myself set-up with some food and a decent mouse (I was playing on a laptop), and was prepared for the long haul. I sat there, essentially while on holiday, and played the game for about 100 hours. Looking back, the content I produced for the game was absolutely class, but I also didn’t really leave the house or do anything else for a week straight. That’s problematic.

I’ve always waged a war against how much I play video games. It’s something of a personal battle. If I play games too much, I feel guilty. It reminds me of when my friends used to knock on the door when I was younger, and I’d say, no, sorry, I’m busy, even though I was just playing Call of Duty. This is a big reason why I’ve pursued a career that lets me play games all the time, because I love them. It’s also letting me establish a more healthy relationship with gaming. I eat properly, I get dressed, I drink coffee and go out for lunch. Maybe it’s part of getting older in general, but it feels like a step in the right direction.

MMOs, however, always get in the way of that progress—they’re soul-suckers, life-destroyers, time-eaters. I love them, but this year, I’ve got to play them less.

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