MassivelyOP did a Daily Grind post that led me to an unexpected insight into my current view of MMOs.
I think I’m vaguely on the record as saying MMORPGs aren’t in a very good place right now. I have a bunch of reasons for that which I won’t get into here. The relevant information for this post is that most of the reaction I see to my offhand remarks is, “What are you talking about? MMOs are better than ever! Stop being so negative!” I understand why sites with a vested monetary interest in the MMO genre would say things like that, but I’ve never really understood how Joe Average MMORPG Player could be excited about the giant void of perpetual beta and blandness ahead of us in the genre right now.
Until now. Today I think something clicked, with this Daily Grind post. Now I think I understand at least one of the disconnects between me and the rest of the MMO community.
My answer to that Daily Grind has always been a definitive “Nope.”
I have no interest in MMO cosmetics. I’ve never purchased a cosmetic outfit, mount, or pet in an MMORPG. By that, I mean I’ve never seen a cosmetic thing in a store and reached for my credit card to buy it. There may have been a few times when I bought a cosmetic thing (mainly in RIFT), but all of those times it was because I had some spare gems in my account, the item was cheap, and I couldn’t find anything useful to buy.
Furthermore, I don’t go chasing cosmetics in-game, either. If I ever end up with matching armor or a full gear set, it’s because the game gave it to me in the normal course of playing the game. I can’t remember a time when I’ve ever done any “grinding” just to get one or more cosmetic items. I’m always primarily interested in the stats on the gear pieces more than what they look like. If the gear with the best stats all happens to match, that’s just a bonus.
In fact, I actually enjoy wearing mismatching armor in MMOs, because I know it irritates people, and I know it leads people to underestimate my playing abilities.
Now you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Wait a second, I *know* you’ve posted pictures on your blog of your character wearing nice matching gear sets before. Particularly in FFXIV.”
Well, that’s true. I put some of them in this post. But in Final Fantasy XIV, gear appearance is very much tied to gear stats. If you need new gear to increase your item level to get into a new dungeon, you don’t have much choice but to get a new outfit. When I post pictures of my character in FFXIV wearing an outfit, I’m showing you the stats of the gear as well as the appearance of the gear.
There was also that one time I played with the glamour system in FFXIV. I never did much with it after that, because glamours are a pain in the butt in FFXIV. I’m *definitely* not going to deal with cosmetics if it’s more involved than a couple of mouse clicks.
Now that I think about it, I suppose I could say that I did “grind” so I could buy that Sylvan Goobue mount in FFXIV as well. But the grinding process also leveled up alt jobs as well, so it wasn’t *exclusively* for the purpose of buying the mount. And, as it turned out, I never actually rode that mount anywhere. I just took a couple of screenshots and that was it.
I’m not saying I don’t have cosmetic *preferences* in games. I might pick one outfit over another outfit if they’re both available to me. If two pieces of gear have the same stats, I’ll pick the one that looks better to me. And I very rarely go out of my way to *get* a set of gear with a particular appearance, unless it’s easy to do and/or I’m really bored.
I’m just saying I never consider the appearance of my character to be part of the core gameplay mechanic or the “goal” of playing an MMO. I never log into an MMO just to “look” at my characters. I always log in to “do” something. And that might be one of the big differences between me and the rest of the MMO world right now, and why everyone else is happy with the state of the genre and I’m left wanting.
There’s a lot of truth to the statement that “fashion is the endgame in MMOs,” and today I realized that might be one of the big reasons why I’m not very excited about the future of MMOs right now.