The Weekly Raid: How Can MMOs Keep Players Online Longer?

As gaming has gone from a niche activity to a mainstream past time, developers have come up with all sorts of ways to entice players to either keep playing, or to at least make daily play a habit. MMORPGs were some of the first to play with such mechanics. World of Warcraft's rested experience, and later daily quest feature were meant to reward players who played at least a little every day. Ultima Online's 'Power Hour' with increased skill gain for the first hour of player each day is an even older example.

But it was mobile and browser games that gave the basic blue print of login rewards and daily chores that has now swept across the entire gaming industry. Even non-RPGs like Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm have daily missions to entice an hour or two of gameplay each day. This basic system seems to work well enough for such games, games with set matches or specific tasks to complete. But how can MMORPGs go beyond such check-list mechanics to truly keep players involved for longer?

Achievement hunting is a common hook, these have the advantage of at least being a little more open-ended. Players can pursue the ones they're interested in, such as 100% map completion, while ignoring ones they find too much of a hassle. Many social features such as player housing, mini-games, and crafting can also be considered play-time-extension mechanisms. But in today's environment of unlimited entertainment options, the MMORPG genre needs some fresh ideas on how to keep players playing.

We discuss some of our thoughts on this subject in this week's podcast, share your own thoughts below!

Lifelong gamer always looking for the next virtual adventure. I'm still waiting for the next big MMORPG. Until then, you can find me hopping between multiple games.