Can You Go Home Again After Leaving A Game?

Jason Winter
By Jason Winter, News Editor

LOTRO Kinship

Here's a simple question for you: Can you ever “go back” to an online game you once loved, but drifted away from?

I'm not talking about something you dabbled in for a few weeks when it was new and then stepped away from. I'm talking about games that were the game for you for an extended period of time – months or years. Once that passion wears off, once you find one reason, any reason, to jump off the hype train, can you re-board with anything resembling your previous interest?

The first game that was like that for me was City of Heroes. Though by my current standards, I maintained a subscription for a relatively short period of time (seven months), it was still my day-and-night obsession for those months. Some update near the end of my last subscription month tweaked me the wrong way and I stopped paying. I went back for a month here and a month there over the next few years, but never got into it on nearly the same level.

Next for me was The Lord of the Rings Online, a game I played solidly for five years. Again, an issue with the game finally broke me – though there was a long-accumulating discontent both from me and from the members of my dying-off kinship – and led to me deciding I'd had enough. In the years since, I've dabbled in the game, sometimes even playing it semi-heavily for weeks at a time, but as a strictly casual player. Even with a lifetime subscription, making the game essentially free-to-play for me, I can't see myself ever raiding in it again or subjecting myself to the stat and gear grind.

City of Heroes Elemental Furries

That's made me wonder if anyone else has experienced the same thing, or even if they've managed to reverse their emotions about a game. In my case, I feel like online games, MMORPGs in particular, tend to squeeze more and more out of players as they age. When the “breakup” finally happens, when a player sees that the game demands too much of them – time, money, whatever – when they realize that they no longer need that game in their life and that it's possible to live without it – they do.

To be sure, I love to reminisce about my experiences in these games, by looking back at old screenshots or occasionally chatting via social media with my old friends. But the notion of getting back into the game, of overcoming various hurdles – leveling, gear acquisition, learning new mechanics, even the social aspects of ingratiating myself with a new guild – put me off. Those feel much more like work instead of fun. I'd rather play something new and interesting, and ideally less onerous.

Maybe that's another reason why going back is so hard for me. There are so many new games, online or offline, single-player or multi-player, that there's always something new to try – usually for free. After thousands of hours in an MMO, anything new, even another MMO, seems like a birthday present, a rare gift to break up the monotony of the everyday grind that I'm used to. Sure, I'm time-rich enough to get into multiple games at a time, but taking a few minutes here or an hour there eventually eats away at that big MMO I used to play for four-plus hours every night. It becomes three hours, then two, then … well, I can't really stay caught up playing so little now, so maybe I just shouldn't bother?

GW2 Yule

Guild Wars 2 is my most recent “abandoned” game. Maybe in a year I'll look back and want to get into it again, but even if everything I dislike is changed, it's going to be hard to re-commit. As with LotRO, there were a few things that sparked my discontent until I finally decided to leave altogether. I've found new things to play and I haven't regretted moving on, for the most part.

But maybe that's just me. Have you ever returned to a game after a long break? Or have you found it impossible once the “magic spell” it had on you was broken? We'd love to hear your thoughts!

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About the Author

Jason Winter
Jason Winter, News Editor
Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.

Discussion (15)

ChaosSaberX 5 years ago
i started as a console gamer PS1 and PS2 era. that changed when i had decent internet 512kb/s. At teen age, I had all the free time, i started my first MMO, Corum online. the game was already half dead when my school friends dragged me in. In today's term it isnt a fantastic MMO, i played it because friends were there, we play, grind, farm and level and argue. It was a place to spend time with friends! Slowly, my friends starts to lose interest(eg.exam and other console games). We all left the game almost at the same pace,there wasn't really any attachment since, my friends are still at school.
My second MMO was cabal online, loved it. those level grinding, equipment building and dungeon runs was fantastic, there wasn't really a time I am not playing for solid 5 years. I got into this game by the same friends that introduced me Corum. Soon later, one of my friend left, and the few that left with me joined a stranger friendly happy guild. After class, i would hop on just like any other players in the guild, we chat and grind, at some point we are pretty much tired, a point in mmo where it is too much effort to be stronger, so we just kinda laid back. we chat, farm some runs, discuss about the next expansion etc. i had a great time, but is just like any MMO, players start to login lesser and lesser, you see the new batch of players. As time goes by, we are bored with the "same but different but still same" expansions, clearing them within a month and getting bored of it after the following month. As guildmates ,we log in to socialize with each other, sometimes things get personal by that time guildmates are no different than real life friends. Eventually, just like other mmo, not enough expansion will keep us together play, we age as we game, some move on to real life obligation. one follow another, slowly a guild turns to a small group chat, and slowly nothing left. We are still friends outside of the game, but just feel less relate-able to each other after since.
And so i move on to Vindictus Online, the strongest memories i have. introduced by another friend. Met old time Cabal Online player that i know but never talked to. By luck, we joined in as a guild, and for another 5 years we play the game, going with the usual MMO cycle, grind, making more friends and just having a place where we are together after a long day of lecture or my go to place, a form of escape, a place where to do the same grinding spiced with personal stories and care for each other in the guild. Eventually, it ends in a way of any MMO, one of my best friend left the game for BDO, while i have just joined the society to work now, i dont have the will power to start again, those who still have the passion for MMO kept going, and im left out. As of now, the genre of MMO is dead to me, the game was the interest, in it has thousand of people that had the same as mine, the guilds are the people that share your values. it just a shame that we dont have the same pace on switching interest.
As for me, MMO had left me good memories, but it can never bring me back the passion i had to play a game.

Window User 6 years ago
When i Come home to play online games. i plan ahead on what game genre i'm going play online.
I make a list genre (RPG Adventure, Shooter, Sport) and that how i do it instead of playing the same Genre game that i have already played online. (It a simple thing to do list)

zxdual 6 years ago
My first game would have to be dofus started it out when I was 8 years old its what introduced me into the world of mmo's. And I've been on and off with it over the course of the last 9 years and I have to say that most recently I've been playing it for about a year straight with some breaks because of school and what not so yea I've come back home to my first mmo after so long

RavorsM 6 years ago
im sick of gw2 as well. I dont know what to play anymore and nothing i find is remotely close to the quality. the closest is tera but there is something I just dont like about that game.

LAMBDA471 6 years ago
I've played World of Warcraft since 2007, first it was a Vanilla private server, then TBC, then WoTLK, I hated CATA and the expansions that came after. Then I went back to Vanilla private servers, right now I don't play, but I know I will get the urge soon enough and I know I will find some Vanilla private server to play.

I've tried other MMORPGs, but they never clicked for me the way WoW did and I always compared their features to WoW's and that's probably why I never got into other games. I would get into LoTRO, but I don't feel like buying all the expansions, I also bought the base game for Elder Scrolls Online back when there were no expansions and it was not confirmed that there will be any and even so it didn't click for me.

Trumbles 6 years ago
Mabinogi is definitely the one for me. Updates have changed the game so much that it is nothing like what it used to be. The combat system has been trashed, and combat is more about stats and gear now rather than avoiding damage/managing aggro.

thsscapi 6 years ago
I've had a similar experience, though it probably wasn't the same as I'm relatively new to gaming. I started only 12 years ago with MapleStory. The game has went in a different direction since I left 8 years ago. I've went back to it multiple times since, for a couple weeks each time, but it's never been the same.

The bigger problem for me was games that have shut down after I left. Games like Trickster Online and Survival Project. When I found them, I logged on every chance I could. I stopped at some point when the grind got to me. Now, I can only "go back" to private servers, which is surprisingly fun. Now that I think about it, it's probably because most private servers run the game in the same "old" state, without any changes, so you always go back to the same game.

ElusiveXTreasure 6 years ago
Testing?... comment poofed.

ElusiveXTreasure 6 years ago
I think it all depends, in part, on why you left to begin with. My love initially was FFXI. I played for four years solidly. I have been back to it since a total of three times for no shorter than six months at a time. I guess I would consider that "going home". Sure my stay was never the same length as the original, and the community had changed to where it was me and the hubby duoing most things. I can't really say it was ever "the same" as it was that first time, but -something- was there enough to keep me for an extended time, even if it wasn't forever. It isn't the only example of a game I've repeatedly gone back to either. But I think it is the closest example of a game that was "going home" for me... even if my old linkshell wasn't there anymore.

kek 6 years ago
Remember playing wow tbc for 3 months for 10 hours a day. I can't ever do that again, with any game.

Is-What-It-Is 6 years ago
Yep, but I'm used to gaming like that.
I have a harder time actually finding a new game to suck me in.
Just been a gamer for 33 of my 37 years on earth. Not a casual one either.
It's been my life and no i don't regret it.
It is what i love, but the older i get the more that passion fades with each year that passes.
As games evolve, yet to me they stay the same. I get a new game I feel like I've already been there done that. I haven't owned a single game in past 14 years that has had a learning curve.
Soon as I start playing already know how to play it and good at it. Should do it professionally. They have been many games I've quit for 2 years+ and when I feel like returning I do and I can get back into them just as deep as I did before and on some occasions even deeper than before.

Lot of older mmorpgs still around I'd love to go back to, but most are so dead it's hard to find resources to keep going, so I know just a waste of time to return to them.
But most one of all has been guild wars 1.
I have been playing it for 13 years, take long a break I feel like picking it back up i do, I'll stick to it for couple months then take leave again.

I think the reason most people can't pick online games back up is because they rely on others to keep them happy. People make friends then they leave while they are gone, their friends leave so when they return their friends are no longer there and the interest dwindles.
But when one is like me, a lone wolf, one that relies only on self and game play to keep self happy it's a different story. it's easy to come and go at will. It's easier to get back into it.

I say this because at one point a lone wolf ran with a pack.
I've been there in the past, made lotta friends return they be gone or the guild or group dissolved. It never felt the same. I'd be in game but afk thinking why am i here what purpose was it to return, sometimes back then I'd afk just staring at the screen screwing with inventories storage trying find a reason to play.
At that point a person has 3 options.
1. Tough it out learn to rely on yourself and break that reliance of others.
2. Try to make new friends try to find that connection with people all over again
3. Walk away and never look back.
I've tried all 3 atleast once older I get harder #2 becomes for me.
I went with #1 have been at it like that for about 9 years now.

I've took year+ break from an mmos left as a scrub came back set my goals higher became co-leader one some of the biggest guilds in less then a month of returning. Left games as a leader, came back as a follower.
I've had gaming friends become enemies and enemies become friends. I've seen it all, done it all.
In the end I found it best to rely on yourself for any happiness/interest in a game, you find a groove that works on your terms and you stick to it.

You have to remember the reasons you enjoyed a certain game.
Was it for the game play? Was it for friends? Was it for the feeling of being a part of a community?
It's easy to return to a game, as long as you know why you are returning to it.
If you don't know why you are returning, you wont ever to be able to fully return and get back into it.

For example I set goals in games, like most people do in the real world.
If I quit a game I know why i quit it, when I return to it I avoid the reason why i left.
Was it because I got burnt out? If so i return, take my time at it, but I'll work harder than the time before building apon what I already know.
So when i return to the game, I actually become better at it every time i quit and return.
Eventually, a person hits their peak and feel they've done all that they can do.
By that point you choose #3

Eldemarco 6 years ago
Mine were FFXIV, Eve Online, Tera, and Aion. Every time I go back it's just like there is something missing. I can't get back that feeling I had when I first started.

Edge Damodred 6 years ago
Went back to Lineage 2 three times. Played L2 from Open Beta until C2 came out, the game wasn't addressing my major issues with it at that point in time. Plcked up again around Interlude but had to stop playing a few months after due to computer dying and not having the money to replace it with one that would run it for a while. Picked it back up when Hellbound came out and stayed through upto High Five then quit a few months before Goddess of Destruction.

Tried GoD and while liked the class compression (specifically all the major buff classes into 1), the basic pve combat turned into the mashing keyboard attack rotation combat that I ultimately got sick of in WoW and LotRO. So I left a few months after. Also they rolled my Soul Hound into the Wizard class so it no longer was a fighter/caster class. Made my Soul Hound into a Knight at launch because I wanted a Kamael to finally wear Heavy Armor and our clan needed tanks.

Currently I have no desire to check out L2 anymore.

tolshortte 6 years ago
I haven't been able to. the three for me were WoW, SWTOR, and FFXIV. while I still really enjoy all three for a few days, I cant get back into them like I used to for some reason.

Sadock 6 years ago
Ive played many mmorpg's but Shaiya was the game that got me hooked, not the pve of the game but the pvp was what got my attention that much that i started buying items from the store (lapis mostly). Now i just lose interest in almost all mmorpg's after a day or two, maybe it's because they all feel like the same. So ive started to play single player games again, but still looking for a new good mmorpg to try out.

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