I mentioned at the beginning that I'm a former WoW player. That begs the questions, "Why I am not playing now?" and "Will I play again?" I played WoW for about 4 years time spread over about 6 years with a six month and one year break in the mix. The reason I'm not playing now (and the reason I quit the first time) really boils down to the time required to complete the end-game content. During my first stint, I quested to the level cap of 60, joined an end-game raiding guild and completed a large portion of the end-game instances as well. We did very well, but it required raiding three days a week for three to four hours each night. That's 9-12 hours a week just for raiding itself. Added to that is the time for just being on before a raid to get everything ready and time after the raid to put items in the bank, repair my gear and do anything necessary with any new items I may have gotten during the raid. Chalk up some more time required for generating gold and other items for raiding and supporting the raid group (which has gotten considerably easier over time). As a total, I was probably spending 20-30 hours a week in the game. I really enjoyed the time I spent playing and making progress through the instances felt very rewarding. The end of my first time playing came after we had some guild drama (the cause of which I don't recall) that caused the guild to dissolve. This happened at about the time the first expansion was to come out, which was going to bump the level cap and make all my hard-earned gear moot. I was getting pretty tired of playing the game, was not looking forward to regearing and took that as a sign to "quit forever." I never felt I wasted my time, but I really just wanted to do something else.
I rejoined WoW after the 1st expansion had been out for about six months because WoW is a game that one can grow to miss. I decided to join the opposite faction and start a different character class, which gave me a large number of quests to do that I had never been offered before. I took the leveling a bit slower this time, but still reached the new level cap of 70 in about seven months (on two different characters). The smart thing to do would probably have been to suspend my account until the second expansion was released. Instead, I joined a raiding guild, which again had a three-day-a-week schedule for anywhere from three to five hours each night. Like before, I had a really enjoyable time and played with some great players. We had good and fair leadership (in the three guilds I was in). I got to see the vast majority of the level 70 end-game content.
When the next new expansion came out, which raised the cap to level 80, I did quests and got my character leveled to the max (in about two months). I thought the new quests were absolutely fantastic. However, Blizzard changed the mechanics of the way my character maximized their damage output (as well as changing some other mechanics). I realized I really dreaded the idea of doing the research, which was never the case before. Doing the raiding needed to get the newly-required gear seemed like more effort than I wanted to expend. Just before the new expansion came out, Blizzard drastically reduced the amount of damage required to defeat the current bosses in the in order to give guilds a chance to experience that content before the new expansion made it irrelevant. Because of that, we raided almost nonstop for the last several weeks. I had really reached the point of burning out. So, I hung up my epic armor and called it a day. That lasted for over a year.
I skipped the Wrath of the Lich King expansion entirely (which in hindsight was better then the next release). When the Cataclysm expansion came out a year later, I decided to start back up - back on the Alliance faction - with a number of the same people that had been in my very first stint years before. I created and leveled a new character to 85, started raiding again regularly (although the guild I was in at the time was considerably more laid back), and got to see a decent amount of the new content. I tired of the grind again after about a year and went cold turkey.
Will I play again?
At this point, I think not. It's been more than three years since I quit, and I am not missing the game like I did the previous times. I do miss the fellowship I felt for my other guild members. I know there are still areas I've never seen, character classes I never played and bosses I've never seen defeated, but I'm okay with it. I feel I've pretty much seen the entire bag of tricks that WoW has to offer. I did go back and play WoW's Legion expansion, but things have really changed. I leveled from 1 to 110 on a new character (but yet again, a druid) rather than picking up where I left off since almost everything about the mechanics of every character had changed. This time though, I was just a tourist. I did many of the world daily quests and just enough small raids and dungeons (via the built-in match-making system) to get through quests. As is usual with WoW, the content was even better than before. I never joined a guild nor did I really feel the need to. It was fun, but after about six months, it was either quit or get more serious about raiding. I canceled my payments once again. (You never really quit the game any more. You just lose access to the game. The characters will be right where you left them even after years.
I also know that regardless of how casually I play, I will reach that same end-game-raiding time sink choice. I suspect that all MMORPGs have (or will have) the same problem. If the end-game content is too easy, many guilds will reach the end and have nothing to do. If it's too hard, most guilds will never see the end game content (and the developer's efforts will have been wasted). At its current level of difficulty, completing the WoW content takes too much of a time commitment. I don't have an answer to the problem, but I'm keenly aware of it.
I would rather not end this article on a down note. I really enjoyed the time I spent playing WoW. Even though I felt it took too much time, no other game made me feel as ecstatic as WoW did the first time we "downed" a boss as a guild. I never felt it was a waste of time. I met interesting people of all ages, from several countries and with vastly different backgrounds that were just fun to talk to. It was incredible to see such a diverse group come together and cooperate to reach a common goal. World of Warcraft is a great form of entertainment. In short, there are a lot worse ways to "waste" time.
If you have comments or suggestions about this article, I'd like to hear from you. Feel free to email me.