Friday, September 28, 2007

Does The End Game Really Matter?

This post over at has me thinking; does the end game of an MMORPG matter at all in its ultimate success or failure?

If you take the raw number of players that actively participate in end game raids in World of Warcraft and simply remove them from the total number of subscribers, World of Warcraft would still hold several million players. So, doesn't that mean that World of Warcraft would be popular without that end game content? Seriously, it is estimated that less than 2% of WoW's NA/EU user-base has actually stepped foot into an end game instance.

World of Warcraft is just one example, both of a game and of an end game model. What other models are there and what do they mean to the game as a whole?

Please discuss.


  1. Anonymous7:53 PM

    Even though I consider myself a heavy gamer, I've never seen end game content in any of the MMO's I've played.

    I've been through Molten Core and the first few bosses in Blackwing Lair, but by the time I got there, it was far from being 'end game'

    Back when I played EverQuest, I only got about half way through the infamous planar progression, we were doing ToV, NToV and some of the lower planes. Not end game, but it was raiding and it was fun.

    Now in EverQuest 2, the biggest raid I've ever been in was 12 people and it was a level 20 guild writ raid in Vale of the Shattering.

    I don't feel end game content is really necessary for the vast majority of players as long as new normal content is released on a regular basis. End game is only end game until the next expansion or dungeon comes out, but for a small percentage of the people, it's gotta be there.

  2. So, if the end game content isn't there, the hardcore players won't come? But can a game succeed without that crowd?

    I don't really know how EQ2 raiding works and how "hardcore" it is, but I do know my casual guild is off doing raids and having fun in EQ2 that they claim they could not get out of WoW :/

    Personally, I enjoy WoW's "before the end game" stuff. I like the 5 mans that you can pound through with pick up groups. Dire Maul is still my favorite dungeon.

  3. Absolutely, MMOs can survive without an endgame.

    I'd say that the endgame isn't that important even in current MMOs, except that the small segment of players who rush to the end also have a significant impact on the game's tone and marketing. It's like Damion Schubert said at the AGDC: hardcore players evangelize casual players. Or, in other words, the most fanatical often sway the opinion of normal folks. But those players only exist because the games encourage that sort of gameplay.

    Anyway, MMOs can be designed to make always adding to the top end unnecessary; better to add to the middle.

  4. I wonder why we have to call it end game anymore really. Actually its a series of tests to keep you busy and ready for the next expansion, and honestly no MMO can survive without it, because the populace would get bored. No serious MMO at least, with a lot of subscribers. The high end content is there to challenge and allow your character to grow through a series of tough instances and quests. This is pretty much why Blizzard went to 10 mans so that it would be easier to get into rather than join a 40 man guild.

    The hardcore vs casual argument is getting worn out anyway. Casuals like to brag that they have a life, and hard core people like to brag that they are actually seeing things no casual player would. Its a never ending retarded cycle

    And honestly, WoW is easy, it still boggles my mind how people cant level cap and at least get purples by PVP or doing heroics

  5. As long as there is some way to progress and improve your character. Or something you have not defeated i guess it can work.

    If you get to the highest level and it feel like you have all ready completed everything. People will stop playing the game

  6. Anonymous6:54 AM

    I do not see that there has to be something specific/different at the "end" to try to keep players in the game until the next expansion - assuming that is an expansion that adds to the end, extends the level range or something like that.

    If people get to the end, let them quit. They will likely be back at the next expansion anyway as long as there is new content and they have not become completely fed up with the game before that.

    There are more MMOGs out there nowadays that there most likely is something new a player can try for a while at least.

  7. "End game" content is basically a shift in focus of what people do prior to the "end game". "End game" content does not have to be raiding.

    For example, while there may not be a high percentage of players that hit the high end raid dungeons in WoW, a much higher percentage would dabble in the battlegrounds.

    The other things about "end game" stuff is that it's a goal for people to aim for, whether they get there or not is kinda besides the point of it, but it is vitally important for the game to provide "something" to shoot for besides the levelling.

    Look at Vanguard for an example of a game without any current "end game" content, then look at how poor it's player retention has been. Once you've played a toon or two to the "end game", if there are no other goals for you, you wont stick around (unless your goals are hardcore roleplay and you have a group that supports that, then you're setting your own goals anyway).

    So yes, even though people may not access the "end game" content, it's still important for it to be there.


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