Burnout is inevitable

Many of you might be familiar with the incredible, voluminous and precise research carried out under the Daedalus Project, by Nick Yee. The researcher looked at MMOs for ten years before finally ceasing, just recently.

His work on burn-out shows raid leaders that it’s largley inevitable, and guild member turnover is therefore a factor you simply need to accept and manage.

Nick’s research is still available to peruse, and it’s a gigantic library of primary research mostly gathered through surveying gamers.

One particular piece caught my eye just now, about player lifecycles.

Nick proposes that all players go through a lifecycle which has five phases:

1) Starting: The player has just started playing the game and everything is new and exciting.
2) Ramping Up: The player has learned the basics and is now busy progressing through the content (whether leveling or crafting). They have a sense of where they want to be and are heading for that goal.
3) Mastery: The player is at the higher-end of the game and is either well-situated in a guild and doing raids, or happily soloing high level quests, or competing in PvP content.
4) Burn Out: The player feels like they’ve done everything they can do in the game, or they are beginning to feel burned out from all the raid and social obligations from their guild. They wonder where all the fun went.
5) Casual / Recovery: The player has figured out a way to play the game without burning out. They may be doing intermittent raids, logging in casually to play with friends, casually leveling alts, etc.

He surveyed nearly 2000 gamers to work out, how long generally have people been playing and what phase would they put themselves in? Answer is charted here:

Player lifecycle stage -vs- months playing the MMO

Player lifecycle stage -vs- months playing the MMO

He says:

And by the 19th month mark, the majority of players (54%) are in the Casual stage.

Significance to raid leaders

Players who have only recently started playing, say since WotLK in November 2008, still have until mid-2010 before 50% of them will flip to casual.

Large numbers of people start this shift to being casual as quickly as after 10 months.

Older players like me, going since launch, have found a way to keep gaming and to balance it with real life. (Personally, the guild I’ve been in for 1.5 yrs only has focus raids twice a week,  and has no attendance minimum, plus I’m not the GM which helps too).

Therefore raid leaders need to accept there will be turnover from burnout.

  • In a progression guild, you need to keep a bench and a continuous recruitment activity, so you can bring in fresh blood to replace the inevitable loss of raiders.
  • In a casual guild you need to find a balance. The term “hardcore casual” has sprung up a lot over the last year to satisfy the (probably millions) of people like me: seriously focused and good at the game, but not committing as much time to raiding  as before, yet wanting to progress during the time they do have.

This player lifecyle is just one factor. Seasons are another: in summer, the better weather makes some people enjoy outdoor life and less gaming (makes no sense to me, I like being indoors).

Leaders remember, this also means your Officers and Raid Leaders might burnout.

You should have a succession plan. Identify high-potential guildies and give them RL experience on a few fights. Test them by asking for input on some management decisions. Think about who will replace you, one day.

ps. I don’t plan to normally blog on the weekend, you got the bonus plan :)

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