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Why WoW Keeps Pulling You Back

When a player announces that they’re planning on leaving WoW, never to return, a lot of us roll our eyes, smile, and nod. From time to time, I’ll come across posts like these on the official forums, usually greeted by “you’ll be back” responses and promises of “we’ll see you soon.” That’s probably why I’ve never announced my breaks on the official forums – it’s trollbait.

Since I left, I’ve sunk my teeth into LotRO like a ravenous dog (and loved it, I might add). I’ve also tried out some of the other offerings on the market: STO, EVE, FreeRealms. Nothing about my time in these other games has been unsatisfying or unfun. I’ve actually come to appreciate LotRO more than I ever have before, calling it my new “main game” over on the right.

WoW is like a Snuggie. It is NOT unmanly to own a Snuggie. Or to use your wife's. Look, my apartment gets cold and I need to type, okay?

But, to the point, I’m about six months from the last day I played WoW and I’m feeling the urge to resubscribe for a month.

Like every other time this has happened, I’m forced to ask myself why. Why do I feel compelled to return to a game that, while I love, has nothing new for me to experience. I’ve seen all that I’m able to at this point, a few spare quests notwithstanding. If I go back, it will be to do what I’ve already done, alt or veteran character, it doesn’t matter. Heroics and emblems. Dailies. Gold. Mounts. Pick-Up-Raids. Guild chat.

For a while now, I’ve fallen back on the reason that it was my first game. I have the rose colored glasses. But, I don’t think that’s all of it.

I think the reason WoW pulls so many of us back is that it’s predictable. It’s comfortable. WoW doesn’t offer many new surprises on subsequent play-throughs. It’s about being able to plot a clear path ahead. From the outset, WoW assures you that you will move from point A, to B, to Y and Z, and there’s something pleasant about that, like a worn blanket from childhood. You can count on WoW to give you exactly what it always has.

It’s worked before, right?

But this fact about it isn’t a bad thing. There’s a certain familiarity about WoW that trumps the unknown in other games – some of the time, anyhow. In LotRO, I enjoy questing. Yet, at the end of the level grind, will I find my time worth it? What awaits me at the end of the rainbow… raids? Dungeons? Grinding? The prospects at once excite me and cause me pause.

Maybe it’s not a WoW thing. Maybe it’s a “first game you ever capped out in” thing. I’m not sure. At it’s core, I think what pulls so many of us back to WoW is that we know exactly what to expect from it. We have some assurance about what we’ll be getting. When so many games ask you to take a leap, WoW gives you the safety net of past experience.

At least that’s it for me. Is there something in particular that keeps pulling you back to a game you’ve left?


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  1. Yogi

    Id agree with you. Its a comfort thing for me. I know the game so I can progress fast through the crap and enjoy the sweet stuff. I know, like you, it has the nostalgia of being my first mmo. However, usually within a week of playing the reality sets in. Nostalgia takes its leave faster than a shot of whiskey, seven beers in. Sure its a good mmo, but it will forever be competing with those first few years. Not that other MMO’s don’t also have to compete with those memories, but they have the advantage of not containing repeat content for me.

    I read this on Keen and Graev’s blog awhile back:

    “There’s only one way to play WoW now and I’ll stand by it being the only legitimate way to enjoy this game as a GAME and not diminishing it into a meta-game activity: Playing with good friends. When playing with friends it’s about slightly more than the gear grind. Working through the content with the intent to see it, completing content because we’re all skilled players who enjoy dungeon runs, and then working towards achieving something for the group rather than the individual is how we plan to approach the game”

    This is what pulled me back every time. The desire to play with good friends. Of course now I have leveled, raided, and pvp’d so much in this game, I am burned out completely. My last resub lasted less than a month before I canceled. So many other great games to try. Im going to save my replays for the games found on cartridges.

  2. Ferrel

    I genuinely don’t like WoW. I hate the idea of daily quests. I’m not a huge fan of the graphics. I don’t really care for the fast majority of the community.

    I still want to go play it again. Figure that one out! I think it just comes down to Blizzard. I’m an old school PC player and Blizzard still just draws me in. WoW does a lot of amazing things and I just wish other games did them too.

  3. Maxivik

    I ebayed my account to stop me from ever returning to WoW.. sure enough I just leveled again. I saved myself the trouble this time and kept my account safe until my eventual relapse.

    The thing for me is, if its not WoW, I am playing some other game. In this case i’ve been hitting SC2 pretty heavily with my group of friends. Eventually SC2 will become less appealing, and although I don’t know if it’ll be WoW i play next (depends on how long im in SC2), I bet it will be another Blizzard MMO.

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