Monday, 21 January 2013

The future is not mono

I had a weird conversation with the leader of our guild in WoW. We were talking about the game and she referred to herself as a monogamer, and her partner as a polygamer.  Theses terms,  which I don't think are very flattering,  are quite interesting.  I, as a gamer, arm willing to play pretty much anything as long as it is interesting,  even if I think I won't necessarily like it (Crusaders King 2 is a prime example). But here is a woman who just plays one game. Don't get me wrong,  there is a lot to do in WoW, particularly if you have multiple characters,  which she does.

As I thought about it, perhaps there is more of a sliding scale then one or many games.  Through the period of a week I usually play about 7 or 8 different games,  whereas someone like Hex will happily play just one or two games over a week.  I think to a certain extend the success of WoW is due to the fact that a lot of it's players are monogamers. This seems to be the case with a lot of people I have come across in the game.

Maybe that's why WoW, with all it's faults,  continues to do well.  Polygamers like me may well come and go, as interesting and new things pop up on the horizon and capture our attention. However WoW (and perhaps a few other mmo's like Eve), have a big core group of players that are monogamers.  These are people that play the game month in month out,  having multiple characters and many, many achievements. And occasionally one of these monogamers will stop playing WoW because they have seen it all, or are bored of the game. If they do stop then one of two things will happen,  the first being that they just don't play anything (perhaps waiting for an expansion or similar), or they go and find another (mono)game to play. This happened with Rift when a lot of disenfranchised WoW players brought it.

I am sure that Rift kept some of those players,  but I think a lot probably went back to WoW when Mists of Pandaria launched.  The inherent problem with being a monogamers is that you become so accustomed to the pattern and rhythm of your chosen  game, that any new game suffers comparisons to the extreme. I firmly believe that this is one of the reasons so many mmo's have similar mechanics and controls. Hell Guild Wars 2 is the first mmo I have played in a long time that I haven't had to run to a mailbox to collect in game mail. Actually thinking about GW2, as great a game as it is,  I wonder how many monogamers it has captured from other games,  I would guess not very many.

So how do we get get monogamers to expand their horizons, humm no idea,  though the person who figures it out is onto a winner.  


1000damage said...

Yup, it's a very strong trend. We're already seeing the MMOs marketing themselves as primarily 'polygamer' games. Easy to get in, easy to get out, easy to come back a month later.

That's an astute observation, and I've felt the same way. I think we'll see some great 'polygamer' titles in the next 3 years, but I doubt that we can get a WoW killer or a boat-rocker title with that mentality.

In order to be the next 10,000 pound gorilla, I suspect they'd have to have the mono mentality to produce a game worth investing all of your MMO energy into.

Roger Edwards said...

I have also heard the polygamer referred to as the promiscuous gamer, which amused me no end, with it's morally judgemental subtext.

I think a lot of monogamers are fans of specific IPs and that is what keeps them loyal. Some really don't come from a broader gaming background and simply became a gamer by dint of playing their sole game.