Could you imagine playing the same videogame for a decade? Ten years, one game?
If this question was asked in the 90s, it would seem silly. That would be at least two generations of consoles, and PC hardware was changing so fast back then that it just wouldn’t make sense.
Then in the late 90s Ultima Online came out, and with it the promise of a virtual world that was always changing, always expanding. UO wasn’t a game you picked up and played until you beat it, it was a service you signed up for and lived with. The promise was, in a nutshell, an RPG with a story that never ended.
Early on in MMO history, the late 90s and into the early 2000s, this promise was mostly upheld. UO was a virtual world, EQ1 was less so, but was ever-expanding. Asherons Call and Dark Age of Camelot came along and added new ideas, but were still ultimately true to that core concept of a ‘forever’ game.
At some point in the mid to late 2000s however, the MMO genre went from a service that provided ‘forever’ games, to titles you jumped into to complete the newest content, and then left once you consumed it. This doesn’t apply to every single game (Hi EVE), but that is generally the case, and especially in the bigger titles like WoW and FFXIV. In this regard, the MMO genre has failed or abandoned the promise of the ‘forever’ game.
To return to the original question of playing a single game for a decade, my answer is yes, yes I have. But those titles aren’t MMOs. I’ve been playing League of Legends for close to a decade now. It’s not an RPG, but it fulfills all of the core promises of being a forever game.
Most importantly, the core game that is LoL is the same today as it was ten years ago. You control a single champion on a team of five, in a PvP match vs another team, on the same map. The details have changed and been expanded, different side flavors have come and gone, but at the end of the day if you liked LoL back then, you can still play that game today. It’s why the eSports scene in LoL is so huge; because fans across a decade can relate to what they see. It’s like pro sports; the NBA or NFL tweak the rules, different players come and go, but the core game stays the same. If you liked the NFL 10 years ago, odds are pretty high you still like it today. As we have recently seen, if you liked WoW in 2005, you need to play Classic because Retail is a dramatically different game now.
Games like LoL, along with mobile games like Clash of Clans (close to 5 years for me), show that it is possible to entertain players for a long, long time, so long as you stay true to your core while providing quality updates to keep that core feeling fresh. The MMO genre got corrupted at some point :cough: WotLK :cough: into believing this wasn’t true, and that instead an MMO just needs to provide bursts of content rather than a sustained experience. This to me is the biggest reason for the decline of the genre, and is the root problem to solve to return MMOs to their original promise.
Players want and will support a ‘forever’ game, its just up to the devs to deliver and keep that promise.