I quite often do. I’ve always had one main game, which will take up the vast majority of my online gaming time, but I regularly have at least one other MMO active that I tinker with a little. I tend to find with my main MMO that once you reach the end game, everything needs at least an hour to do, so I like to have something else for those moments when I’ve only got 30minutes spare. Something to just dip into, where I don’t have to worry about talent specs, raid gear, organising things or answering 10 whispers from people wanting to join Kill Frenzy the moment I log in. Somewhere to be anonymous and a perhaps bit detached.
This is perhaps a bit odd. I’m effectively subscribing to extra MMOs, but I play them as single player games. Why don’t I just play a single player RPG? Why am I paying a subscription fee for something I barely play?
After doing a bit of reflection, I think the main reason is curiosity. I’ve been playing MMOs for 12 years now and as a result I’ve grown to be very interested in the genre generally. I’m not interested enough to play them full time, but I am curious to see what it is that people like about game “X” and what the game world feels like. Each MMO gamer, if they realise it or not, has contributed to the evolution of the genre. By subscribing and talking about game “A” we have impacted on the development choices made for game “B”. If we had chosen not to play WoW and it had been another MMO with the traditional few hundred thousand players, what would the latest batch of games look like? Even more dramatic, imagine if Everquest had not been successful and Ultima Online’s original harsh world had remained the benchmark... Things would be totally different (for the better! :P ). Playing a range of MMOs can give you a bit of an insight into what people are into now and as such I would think it shows where MMOs are headed, which is an interesting thing to ponder on.
Another big reason why I have multiple games active is that to enjoy an MMO you don’t have to play it full on and dedicate hours of your life to it. You can have some light hearted fun, but still get some progression for your character, albeit slow. You can just log on, explore a bit, kill a few things and log off. The difference with most single player games is while you can still slowly explore and progress a character, it is essentially a finite experience and it will come to an end. With an MMO character you’ve always got the option of much to come, what with patched new content, expansions, etc. When you’re not playing a game in full, it’s world seems to feel some much bigger.
Of course this very casual play maybe harder to do if you are a full on hardcore raider 24/7. Over the years I’ve played all manner of different types of MMOs and played them in different ways, from casual, to hardcore raider, to roleplayer, to big time PvPer, you name it. When I was in a hardcore raider phase I would only have one game active, because there simply isn’t time for more. At least not if I wanted to keep my real life marriage intact… These days I find it quite easy to juggle various games. Sure, I play WAR far, far more than anything else, but with no need to grind rep, materials or any of that crap, I don’t have to spend every waking moment logged in. I am free to dabble!
Over the last year alone I have had a wide range of MMO side projects, including Ultima Online (I activate for a while every year), Dark Age of Camelot, Eve, City of Heroes/Villains, Age of Conan, World of Warcraft, Dungeons and Dragons Online and various betas. I’ve considered many more too. At this exact moment I have 3 MMOs active, WAR, WoW and now Champions Online. WoW is a temporary arrangement for me to get a character to 80 ready to look around Cataclysm next year. At 80 the sub gets cancelled again. Where as Champions I’ve just started toying with and will probably dip into here and there. Having played City of Heroes quite a bit I already knew how Champions would be a shallow PvE fest, but the shallows can be fun to fool about in.
Long-term WAR will most definitely remain my main MMO. The game is still fun, getting better all the time and now that Mythic have woken up, I genuinely see the future as very bright. Plus, it’s Warhammer! The Warhammer lore and artwork is vastly superior to everything else out there now (or in future), which for me is very important. However, like all my “main” MMOs before WAR, what I play alongside it will continue to chop and change.
How about you?