A few years ago, I developed a mild Everquest addiction. I played for waaaay too many hours, passing up more important things (reading, working, wife’n'kids time, exercising, sleeping, etc.) to kill just…one…more…orc. OK, it wasn’t a real addiction; I was just indulging my normal impulse control problems and a surfeit of free time.
But I did manage to give it up. Quit cold-turkey, and stayed off for a whole year or two, right up until World of Warcraft came out. WoW is a lot friendlier to casual play than EQ was, and so I’ve managed (mostly) to keep my WoWing to recreational status. Mostly. Sometimes. Maybe.
During the interregnum, I talked with a friend who also played too much (a LOT more than I) about whether EQ wanted people to play more or less. We figured that they really didn’t want people to play (consuming resources) any more than was necessary to keep them interested enough in playing to stay subscribed.
We got to thinking if a game had the capability to let your character contact you – a phone call, an email or text message, an IM session – to draw you back in, it would be a lot harder to ever stop. I know that, after I dumped EQ, if I’d received a plaintive request from my ranger to come and get him out of a tough spot, it would have been hard not to jump back in.
I tend to game in spurts: if I play an hour or so, I’m much more likely to fire it up again later that night or the next day. If I stop for a day or two, for whatever reason, then I may go for days or even weeks without thinking about it much or feeling much desire to play. But if the game noticed that, and decided I was “at risk” of quitting (thus stopping the trickle of gold into the company), could it coax me back in?
Warcraft already has a “Resurrect a Friend” program, whereby a current player gets free playing time if he coaxes a former player to rejoin. Warcraft doesn’t typically delete your account or characters when you terminate your account, just to decrease the cost of you changing your mind later. They’re also doing a “first one’s free, kid” deal as well.
It’s a great idea for them. But I’m sure not looking forward to trying to quit this time.