Pros and cons of single vs. multiple MMO adventures

As someone who has experienced a wide range of MMOs and gone through different phases in playing them, I’ve formulated some opinions on the pros and cons of sticking with a single game versus attempting to juggle multiple titles.

I’ll say for starters that I personally don’t favor one method over another. One, two, or several games all hold appeal for me at different times, and I don’t think I’ll ever settle into a single preference. It’s more situational — which games are hot right now, which are holding my interests, which have released new expansions or updates. Over the past year I’ve had periods where I’ve only played World of Warcraft day in and day out, periods where I was at just two games, and sometimes (such as now) where I’ve gone to four or five.

So let’s look at what the pros and cons are of the two main methods of playing MMOs.

Playing a single MMO

Pros

  • Never have to deliberate that day which game you’re going to play — you just know
  • You can really get to know a title and get deeper into it, including better knowledge of its systems
  • You can make faster and better progress
  • It opens the doors for more alts as alternative gameplay experiences
  • You get to spend more time getting to know your guildmates
  • It can be fun to dive deep into that game’s culture and community
  • You can pursue more long-term and grander goals
  • You are always at the top of content, ready for anything new that comes along

Cons

  • You set yourself up for a hard burnout down the road where, one day, you simply don’t want to play any more and find yourself in a gaming crisis of sorts
  • Or what if the studio shut down your game? Your world would implode
  • You fall out of touch with all of these other games out there
  • You chew through content faster than developers can produce it
  • You can get more upset over changes to the game and fall into the drama of the community that sees this as the be-all, end-all experience

Playing multiple MMOs

Pros

  • You feel more free to venture to where your whims and interests lie, especially if you’re a “grass is greener on the other side of the fence” type of person
  • You can choose a game that night to fit your mood and interest
  • You get more of a variety and experience a wider array of MMO “flavors”
  • You guard against burnout or an individual game’s shutdown by diversifying your gaming portfolio
  • By moving at a slower pace in any given game, you’re rarely running out of content and sitting there bored
  • You leave and return to MMOs without feeling guilty, especially when a game drops a new patch or expansion

Cons

  • You have to set some firm goals and be fair in your rotation or else face little to no progress made in any given MMO
  • You have to split your attention between multiple games, multiple goals, and multiple guilds
  • Obviously, you won’t get to know any one guild that well unless you’re part of a multi-game guild that uses a third-party social network
  • It can be a little difficult to give “fair” attention to your current rotation and swap between two or more games that night (finger memory!)
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7 thoughts on “Pros and cons of single vs. multiple MMO adventures

  1. DonV March 29, 2018 / 11:26 am

    I am down to one mmo and around two card games. I have tried to get into some others but they just don’t grab me. Time is a big problem, my life is project oriented between work and my wood sailboat which can suck up long hours. DDO is a game I can leave and return to whenever time permits. Other games on the radar may come in to play, perhaps Shroud and or Pantheon which seem to be my style.

  2. Bhagpuss March 29, 2018 / 2:40 pm

    I vary somewhat. Other than when something brand new comes along, I rarely play just one MMO. It’s nicwe when that does happen, because it means I’m really wrapped up in something new and fresh, but it’s unreasonable to expect it to happen regularly.

    On the other hand, I never play as many MMOs as I feel I could – or indeed as I wish I would. There are a few factors outside of pure interest that affect my choices. How much free time do I have? What’s Mrs Bhagpuss playing (and is she doing something more interesting than me!)? How tired am I? Is something going on in some MMO that I might get a blog out of?

    In theory I usually have a dozen or more MMOs “in play” and when I have both the time and the energy I might manage to log in to half of them in a given week. Even then, though, I don’t get much done in most of them. It’s m ore a c ase of touching base.

    I think the optimum number is probably three or four. One “main” MMO that gets maybe two-thirds of my playtime, a second that gets another 20% or so and one or two more that I dip into for a session or two Right now, though, I only seem able to manage the main plus one other. I’m dealing with that by rotating the secondary – not in any pre-meditated way but just by how the mmod takes me. GW2 is the main, with the secondary swapping between EQ2, EQ and, DCUO. I’ve played WoW, Rift and SWL a fair bit in recent times and I was playing FFXIV (Free version) fairly regularly until I wasn’t. If I ever get my Project Gorgon Steam key (still no reply to my email…) I might roll that into the mix and I might give Shroud of the Avatar another look now it’s launched. I would really like to play Black Desert again, too, but I don’t want to re-download it…

    I guess there’s no chance I’ll ever play just the one.

  3. Dolnor March 29, 2018 / 7:10 pm

    I play multiple games for the variety. But I got used to this since I test online games as a hobby. Syp’s correct about the burn-out when I play a single game at a time. Even while testing, I tend to burn-out due to the repetitive nature of testing games. So I step away and play another game for a day or two. When I return, I am ready to hunt down those bugs in the dark recesses of the game world.

    TQQdles™

  4. Telwyn March 30, 2018 / 4:45 am

    I usually stick to a trio of MMORPGs: one to solo when others aren’t free, a second main game to play with my husband and a third to play with one or two more friends as well. The balance of how much I play each varies a lot from week to week depending how our schedules work. Since our early years all playing WoW we’ve never found another game that is “the one” game so playing a variety for me isn’t ever in doubt. Even though I played WoW solidly for about 5 years before starting to take breaks, after the first couple of years I was ready for more varied gaming and began to investigate other MMOs (WAR, DDO, LOTRO etc) to play on the side.

    This means I never am that involved in guilds as you write above, and never keep up with the leveling zerg, but equally I’ve never experienced burn-out with a game and I get to explore so many fascinating virtual worlds.

  5. HarbingerZero March 30, 2018 / 12:44 pm

    One of the disadvantages to the “multiple” system for me is that it limits my choices. Some MMO’s have subsystems that are simply too complex for me to keep up with if I’m not playing them regularly (read: daily or nearly daily).

    This can be compounded by older games tacking on new subsystems to keep players interest. Or it can be as simple as trying to juggle 4 hotbars worth of buttons in a combat rotation!

  6. Shintar April 2, 2018 / 7:41 am

    I feel like I occupy a nice middle ground on this: I do have a main game that I focus on and consider my home, but I also have a “secondary MMO home” and have dipped my toes into a couple of others whenever I’m in danger of approaching burnout in my main game. Best of both worlds IMO.

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