Three hours

In the comments of yesterday’s post, frequent commentator Saucelah suggested that playing an MMO for three straight hours (the comment said five, but let’s work with three, because I think that was my original ask in some post. If not I’m saying three now) is extreme hardcore or niche. I disagree. I’d say that if you CAN’T setup a three hour block to play an MMO, you are in the minority.

Millions of people recently saw “The Hobbit”. Total uninterrupted time needed for that? Over 3 hours. Well over if you have a longish drive to the theater. Even an average movie that runs just under two hours in length is going to take you around three hours total. The cost? Oh, about $15 per person. A number that sounds oddly familiar. Guess movies are for the hardcore only huh?

The NFL is by far the most popular sport in America. Millions and millions watch a game or more each week. Average length of an NFL game? Over three hours. Per week. Watch your team’s game every week, and you just spent 12 hours or more a month. Oh and the NFL also has DLC. Yup, Sunday ticket, which gives you access to EVERY game and special features like Redzone. Cost? About $200-$300 bucks a year. Let’s not even get started on actually going to a game in person, both for time and cost. The NFL, super-niche, yo.

Raise your hand if you have been to a concert that was shorter than three hours total time (driving etc) and cost you less than $15?

I could go on.

So yes, if you personally can’t organize your life to allow for a three hour block of time to enjoy something, you are niche. A sad niche too. L2live noob, you only get one life in this game.

If you CHOOSE not to spend that much time on something that is basically a hobby (MMOs), don’t expect hobby-quality results. Plenty of people show up to Superbowl parties clueless about the NFL, and we can continue to politely smile while tuning you out to focus on the game, while you enjoy the pretty sights and sounds (commercials).

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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21 Responses to Three hours

  1. Basically, people are really good at finding the time to do the things they really want to do. There are a lot of things I look at and think, “I wish I had time for that.” But what I am really saying to myself is that there is nothing on my current list of activities I would give up for that particular thing.

    I wouldn’t peg 3 hours as a standard block of MMO play time, but if you aren’t hitting that in a given MMO once or twice a month, you might not be that into it, as they say. Or it might not really be an MMO, like LoL or WoT.

  2. mmojuggler says:

    Maybe Saucelah was referring to a previous post where you mentioned 20+ hours a week of play as the minimum threshold for certain activities. At 3 hours blocks that works out to… one every day of the week. I know people who love watching football and others who are into movies, but they aren’t doing that stuff every day of the week.

    • SynCaine says:

      Here is the post:

      The question was how much time is required to play EVE/DF the way I play them, and yea, 20 hours a week average is about right.

      I suspect sports fans watch that or more per week, if they are at the hobby level. Same for movie buffs or people really into music (if those exist anymore).

      • Anti-Stupidity League says:

        Movies and sports comparisons don’t really work. I like movies and I may watch several different movies per week. I also follow some sports and may watch a game or two per week as well, preferable different teams most of the time (I’m a fan of the sport, not a particular team).

        But what if you’re really into computer games and want to spend, say 20 hours a week playing those? So you either choose to play multiple different games during the week or if you want to play an MMO, you cannot play anything else. Are you saying that you cannot be a hardcore computer game fan if you want to play MMO games, you need to be hardcore MMO fan only?

        • kalex716 says:

          Kinda, yea…

          Now as an MMO hobbyist, will their be times in a given year where you lean off the MMO scene, cause you are waiting for an update, or a new game etc… Sure, and then you might lean on other gaming options by default, but you’d still characterize MMO’s as your main gaming milieu.

  3. bhagpuss says:

    The average Briton watches around 4 hours of live (broadcast) television per day. Just over 30 hours a week. (source

    Not in any way co-incidentally, Mrs Bhagpuss and I have been able to spend around that amount of time each week playing MMOs for the almost the past decade and half. We have barley watched broadcast TV since the day Everquest got installed on my PC in 1999. We haven’t even owned a TV for over 5 years.

    Both of us easily pass the three-hour test. Every day. We also are in guilds in GW2 and EQ2 and have been in other MMOs where mot of the other members play for similar blocks of time regularly over months and years. We all take our hobby seriously in terms of the time we devote to it, but what all of us do with the time in we spend in our MMOs (and the MMOs we choose to spend it in) varies enormously. I doubt you’d find what we spend our 30+ hours doing very entertaining but we are spending those hours mostly happy and satisfied week after week, year after year while you seem to be dis-satisfied, discontented and jaded with most of the genre much of the time.

    I’m not at all sure why there needs to be a “them and us” thing going on here in the first place, but if there is one I’m not sure teams can be picked based on time played.

  4. xXJayeDuBXx says:

    I fell that if I can’t play for a couple of hours then I’d rather just not play. Sometimes if I only have a little time then I’ll log in to do some upkeep type of stuff like crafting or that sort of thing.

    • SynCaine says:

      Which is also important actually. If a game does not have something for 15-30min, you won’t log on when you have 30min. People dropping in helps the social stuff, so its important. All one big mix.

  5. Bristal says:

    Totally disagree with your other entertainment analogies. I can watch a 3 hour baseball game every day and not spend 20 hours chained to my TV set, needing to respond when needed like I would playing an MMO.

    I can pause the game, walk away without notifying anyone to make a sandwich or piss. I can answer the phone and chat while the game is on. I can let the dog in/out whenever. I can even semi read a magazine if the game is slow. Likewise with a movie.

    Going to a game live or the movie theater is much more of an investment obviously. People who attend live sporting events 20 hours a week are quite hardcore IMO, or are coaches/players. Likewise going to a movie every day. I’ve met a few people who go to baseball games every day. They are called hardcore fans. That’s their life.

    Playing an MMO in coordinated group activiies requires you to BE THERE ready to respond. Not at all like WATCHING a sporting event, more like BEING IN the sporting event.

    Doing that 20 hours a week is indeed hardcore.

    Clearly you’ll never accept that opinion, but that amount of focused concentration spent on a hobby is highly unusual and not something the vast majority of people can be expected to do.

    • sleepysam says:

      This is about where I am on the subject, though I don’t see the 20 hours week/3 hours a day as “hardcore,” that definitely makes you in the minority or a hobbyist or something. Since I used to be able to do that, I just saw it as how I wanted to spend my free time. I wish I still had that kind of time, but I don’t.

    • SynCaine says:

      The above all works if you are doing the activity (gaming, watching sports) solo. Or do you pause the game to finish cooking while your five buddies are over watching the game? Pull out a book in the middle of a movie?

      Point being, people every day are able to focus on someone for 3 hour blocks, yet some people look at a 3 hour block for an MMO as some otherworldly commitment. It’s not, at least not for those who care to make it.

      • Matt says:

        That’s just it though, you don’t have to pause the game or your friends to go stir something or answer the doorbell etc. But in the middle of a raid you can’t just put your character on bot for 5 minutes to take care of some pressing need, unless everyone else is afk too. You could also pull out a book during the commercials for a game, though you wouldn’t while you have company.

        There’s a social status element to this as well. People don’t pull out books when company is around because it is rude. Similarly, flagrantly going AFK during a social activity in an MMO is rude, but playing video games isn’t given the same standing as having company in the flesh. So you tell your wife that no, you can’t get the chicken out of the oven because you are in the middle of a boss battle, and she is not pleased to say the least.

  6. Bernard says:

    “I’d say that if you CAN’T setup a three hour block to play an MMO, you are in the minority.”

    I think the spirit of what Saucelah was saying is that spending 30 hours per week on an MMO, be it in 3 hour or 5 hour blocks, is unlikely to be the mode.

    Spending that amount time on most activities besides work or sleeping (sports, chess, watching movies etc) would take you into the ‘hardcore’ group of the hobby.

    Watching TV and listening to music are perhaps exceptions in that you can do them whilst doing anything else really. So Bhagpuss, I suspect that the Brits watching 4 hours per day were also cooking, eating, on the phone or playing MMOs during that time.

    The point is that being representative of the majority of players is important if you are using your own behaviour as a basis to propose what the MMO industry should do.

    • SynCaine says:

      The key here is the majority of MMO players; not gamers. MMOs are a niche among gaming, and the longer required commitment is part of that.

      When you try to create an MMO for the average gamer, who can’t even spent as little as 20 hours a week, you end up with one failed MMO after another, because those people don’t/can’t buy-in enough to the game to stick around for the months/years required by the model, and those who can’t aren’t playing longer than a month because there is no point.

      • saucelah says:

        Where to start? Well, first of all, we can’t keep insisting that all theme parks have completely failed miserably and no one plays them for more than a month. Even throwing out WoW, which I’m perfectly willing to do and agree with your past reasons for doing so, we’ve still got plenty of games going strong. I think it’s even a little silly to dismiss games that sell us the One RIng — I don’t play LOTRO, but ultimately, even if their cash shop was selling a “You Win” button, it wouldn’t affect me. Partly because I play less than 20 hours a week, so I don’t pay any attention to how I stack up against other players. I simply don’t care.

        I think it’s terribly nonsensical to connect time dedicated per week with a desire to stick with a single MMO for an extended period of time. If anything, putting in less than 20 hours per week with GW2 has extended my longevity and not simply because it will take longer to reach the end, but also because while I’ve meandered along its paths, they’ve added more, interrupted normal play with a few events/holidays, and adjusted the reward system to make things present at launch, such as the dungeons and going back through zones for world completion, more valuable in the context of my game time.

        A ten hour per week, at least for a single MMO, gamer is going to take twice as long for most any given long term goal as a 20 hour per weeker, giving more time for games like Rift or GW2 to expand the options available to them. Ten hours per week is an accurate assessment of almost all my guild’s members’ time allotments, but 30 days and done does not apply to any of them.
        From their MMO history, on every single one of them, staying for more than a year is commonplace, in both sandboxes and theme parks.

        As for why I do not put in 20 hours per week on GW2, though sometimes I do, usually I just don’t want to. I’m perfectly capable of finding that time, should I wish, but I’d be borrowing from other hobbies as important or more important than gaming in general. I have two novels in progress that I rotate between — I’m a lot more likely to be kicking myself for not giving time to them than for not giving time to my MMO.

        No, there’s a perfectly viable market of long term staying, 10 hour per week playing gamers to market to.

        I agree with your general conclusion, that sandbox mechanics do more to retain players. But I think this is true for both the average player and the dedicated hobbyist. The main barrier being that there are, that I’m aware of, no sandboxes worth playing for 10 hours or less per week. But that doesn’t mean such isn’t possible, that a game must have mechanics that require longer blocks of time or it cannot have sandbox mechanics that are both fun and repeatable.

        Ultimately, my point is that your premises are totally skewed. 20+ hours per week is not normal, and starting from that assumption isn’t going to end with convincing gamers or developers. I’d love to see you revisit the PvE sanbox idea, but specifically addressing how players with less time can feel effective, and more importantly, have fun while contributing to the community and character of a game in a way that dedicated hobbyists actually notice. Because such a game would be successful and not niche, yet still provide for both the extreme niche hobbyists and the less dedicated. That will be the next big leap for MMOs, moving the “they either create for us or create for them” mentality into meaningless memories.

        • SynCaine says:

          I question how much interaction you have with a guild if you are only around for 10 hours a week. If everyone does that, the times sufficient mass is online are rare. But then, its GW2, so bots and humans are tough to distinguish and there is a reason Anet only sold the box. In a game like EVE or DF, a 10hr a week guild would either outright fail or languish in obscurity, which might as well be failure.

          LotRO is going strong huh? So layoffs is ‘going strong’? Selling out the core of your game (the lore) for short-term cash-grabs is ‘going strong’? Maybe EQ2 making 80% of its money of wing sales is ‘going strong’ too? Sorry, but the idea that themeparks outside of WoW are ‘going strong’ is absurd.

  7. SM says:

    He’s making an arbitrary definition based on a flawed general assumption. Three hours of questing or gathering is not the same gameplay as raiding or arena. With such ambiguity, it is a largely useless definition.

  8. Korvus says:

    I agree with your statements. MMO gaming is different than console gaming or even non MMO pc gaming. MMOs require focus and long term dedication for it to be a successful game.

    For example, and I feel strongly that I am definately in the minority, but I spend probally 40 hours a week or more doing something related to EvE; be it reading the forums, blogs, adjusting fits in EFT, and actually playing EvE. Also doing all this while working full time and paying attention to my family. As a “hardcore” raider in EQ2, I spent 4 nights a week, 4 hours a night actually raiding and killing targets. Another 4-6 hours a week was spent before and after each raid just bs’ing with other people and adjusting gear profiles.

    When it comes to raiding, grouping, or solo gameplay, I feel that it depends on the person. You can be a terrible raider, who only logs in for those raid times and nothing else or you can be an awesome soloer who spends time in game optimizing his character with every bit of knowledge he can find in or out of game. Its those people who are willing to dedicate the time blocks required who will be loyal, long term customers.

    IMO, I feel that the 15-30 minute block of players in MMOs should not be catered to. If you cant sit down and dedicate a minimum of one to two hours per play session, true MMO gaming is not for you. This includes travel time, prep, ect. Frequently and freely available fast travel is the bane to a great MMO as well…..

    Yes, I was a druid in EQ1 prior to SoL/PoP exspansion =P

  9. Xyloxan says:

    Based on my own experience: my estimate is that I’ve been playing non-MMOs for 30-45 minutes a day and it’s usually perfectly fine and satisfying. My typical MMO session of doing something of importance in the game was 4-6 or even more hours. I don’t consider myself a hardcore, just a fan.

  10. Goom says:

    Great examples but the flaw it all of those activities can be done with your spouse or friends. If a friend doesn’t like watching movies, or attending a sporting event then perhaps he doesn’t come along. But even if you are with friends watching the game, the one that doesn’t can drink beers and snack on food and socialize with peopled.

    Meanwhile take the guy in the other room playing Eve or WoW for 3 hours…people are not gathered around on the couch cheering him on and discussing the attack taking place. Gaming is niche and online raiding is even more so. Its hard to get a bunch of friends that are going to discuss and talk about your raid on the big screen while the girlfriends/wives drink wine and cook up some snacks. That is the separation as your spouse wants to share time with you whether that means watching a movie together or even football. They dont want to hop in and watch your game but they are willing to watch the NFL game with you and friends. Perhaps in another 10 years that will change and my son will have big xbox parties with wives and girlfriends gathered around to watch him play but its not as frequent now.

    Of course years ago I used to have two TVs on Sunday, one for the NFL games and the other friends playing Madden during the day which was a great time.

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