MMORPGs have only been around for a little over a decade, and there have only been a handful of them that have really hit the mainstream such as Everquest and World of Warcraft where people have spent years not only with the same characters but with the same friends. When Everquest was threatened by Everquest II and World of Warcraft, I had already spent five years with my Wood Elf Druid. It was easy to continue on in EQ2 with the same character that found herself lost at sea 500 years later, but when I started having issues with EQ2 and moved to WoW, it wasn’t such an easy transition. Although the world is virtual, there were still real-world experiences in visiting them. Every new place you went to like North Karana or Velious had their own stories, just as if you went to visit a real-world location like Italy or the Alps. The types of experiences are different, but they’re experiences nonetheless, and pulling yourself away from the world in which these experiences happened isn’t always easy.
Leaving EQ2 for WoW was easy the first few months because WoW was done so well. Teldrassil was gorgeous and the people I found along the way were fun and helpful to be with. Over time, I started missing places like the spires of North Karana, and my home in EQ2 that I spent so much time on. I hadn’t actually cancelled my SOE account so I visited EQ1, porting around here and there like I was visiting a living photo album, but I really missed my house in EQ2 a lot. I started playing again and built up enough plat for a new home. Six years later, I still play EQ2 off and on, and EQ1 is just too grindy for me, but the SOE All Access Pass allows me to play all SOE games for one fee per month so I can visit EQ1 whenever I want. It’s almost like taking a vacation from your virtual world.
Now that two new big games are on the horizon (Star Wars: Old Republic, Guild Wars 2), I wonder whether people will be able to give up WoW cold turkey. I’ve seen some people do it already, some for Star Wars, some for just being burned out on WoW. There’s just way too much history with my characters to just simply move away from WoW. I don’t get attached to the characters themselves, but the stories I can tell with them. Some of the best stories come from the items I keep in my bank. The thought of moving on to another game and leaving this character behind makes me a little nervous because I feel like I’d be leaving behind the ability to continue on with those stories, even though I can create new ones in another game. The fact is, I’m not ready to leave WoW, and won’t. Blizzard puts a lot of energy into this game. They don’t always hit the bullseye, but they hit it more than anyone else. If you want to remind yourself as to the world that Blizzard created, take a look at the fantastic lore and artwork both Blizzard employees and fans have created over the years. Listen to the soundtracks and remind yourself how the music pulled you into the game and didn’t act like simple background music.
If you want to see just how much time you spent playing WoW, just do a /played on the character you’ve played the most. My mage has 186 days played. That’s over half a year, and that’s just one character. My druid probably has about 100+ days played. Put them together and add in alts, and that’s almost a full year of playing this game which is probably less than some people have played. New games come out and they’re the new “shiny”, but while a game may be visually pleasing, you have to see if it captures your heart. Will a new game do that, or will you be going back in a few months?