Ringo Flinthammer (who is, by the way, still my favourite RP blogger) posted this queuery over at Blog Azeroth. In all honesty, since Cataclysm launched I know of a number of folks who are no longer playing the game. Good friends, bitter trolls, and everything in between…gone. Yet here some of us steadfast players remain.
I’ve taken two significant breaks from Warcraft in the time I’ve been playing (which off the top of my head is 4 or 5 years). Once during Lich King, and this past winter. As I documented regarding the latter of the two my reasons for leaving were self-imposed pressures but the first time was simply because I had a full plate in life. I reocgnized there were things I felt needed to get done, and I removed a distraction from the equation. Yet both times I came back.
As much as I’d like to, I don’t raid. My schedule doesn’t really allow for it unless it’s a weekend PuG raid, and I currently experience lag of 3-5 seconds that would make me a ridiculous liability were I to do so. I don’t PvP, but it’s something that I’ve been wanting to try. So it isn’t that either. Nor do I RP (immersed in-game). So what is it?
Characters. Not toons. Not avatars. Characters. Every one I roll is a fictional entity that I treat as something as part of a bigger picture. That’s why I play every character a certain way. The process of getting them to the end is one that I greatly enjoy, even though I can get tired of grinding out levels (probably why out of some 20 or so toons only one is 85). I spend more time going and getting the things I want to enhance each character than I do necessarily leveling. That takes time. Recipes for my prof characters, certain mounts and pets for nearly every one, or components for their non-combat outfits. There’s so much that entertains me.
Also, I’d be lying if I didn’t say playing the Auction House didn’t bring me back. You don’t do something for an hour nearly every day if you’re not enjoying it. At least, not when it comes to a hobby you are paying to play. I can only imagine the gold I’d have if I got aggressive at it, or 525’d my professions. Yes, playing the auction is indeed enjoyable and it’s something I’m good at.
I can’t deny the social aspect either. There are some people, though many have retired from the game, that I only get the chance to communicate with via WoW. It was a common interest that brought us together and people know me as a very loyal person. I cherish each and every person I build a solid bond with.
So have you figured out the right answer yet? Yes, all of what I have said is true (without getting into the lore…or OCD and ADD manipulation, which I believe to be a factor as well), but there is one honest and true answer and that is that there is no “one thing” that keeps players coming back. The diversity of human beings is vast and so are the interests offered by WoW. There’s a little that someone can’t find in the game to enjoy. No matter what that might be, if the enjoyment is there (and, fair enough, the money) then the player will be as well.