MMO and RPG Time Sinks: Lazy Mechanics?
Are you familiar with the term “time sink?” If not, here’s a quick primer: In an MMO, there are thousands of individual tasks that need doing. Leveling, gathering materials, crafting, fighting other players and learning your way around are just a few of the many things you’ll do over your MMO career. But there is a special category of activity known as the time sink, designed only to force you to spend hours playing the game. The old PvP system in World of Warcraft could be seen as a time sink – the only way to hit the top rank was to spend countless hours every week grinding out honor. Other games have similar time sinks; any time you have to repeatedly perform the same activity for hours on end to accomplish a specific goal, you’re participating in a time sink. Time sinks are effective at getting players to spend time in game, but they don’t do much in terms of innovation or engagement. They’re the mark of a lazy developer – instead of putting something interesting in the game or finding a way to keep players motivated, the developer just packed a repetitive time sink in. Think about your favorite MMOs – can you remember a time sink in which you have participated? Did you find it rewarding or annoying?