This is basically the psychology of F2P games in action.
They appeal to addiction behaviors. Think about it. GoW asks a player to log in every hour to collect tribute. For an active player, there can be a pet rescue every hour. The weekly event represents 20-30 rounds that must be played. The daily tasks are a similar burden. The daily Delve is 20-30 rounds. That means every day can represent 60-100 games of Gems of War spread across 8-10 periodic logins or the player “falls behind”.
This isn’t even counting the leaderboards. The current #1 PvP player, whose name is blank, has played 1,800 PvP matches this week. 1,800. If we assume it costs about 1 minute per match (which is a fast estimate), he’s spent 30 hours out of this week’s 108 on nothing but Gems of War. That’s 6 hours per day. That’s a job. Something between 25 and 30 percent of this person’s day is this game. Think about it.
For a lot of people that doesn’t matter. Those people don’t sign up for the forums and post every day. To those people, the game’s just a distraction, they aren’t subject to its hooks, and they can quit on a whim and do. Nobody makes posts about “I’m having a mediocre time!” You just don’t see it.
But for a lot of the forums, I’d be willing to bet we’re looking at a level of devotion like Mr. PvP. The Invasion leaderboard shows me you need to have played 40k PvP matches to make it to the top 50. If we go back to the one-minute-per-match measure (which is definitely wrong here but alas), that is 670 hours of gameplay. That is just the PvP stats. Several of these people frequently place on leaderboards, and spend 50+ sigils on guild events.
Can you name a game you’ve spent 670 hours on? I can’t. Off the top of my head I know I’ve spent:
- 215 hours on Xenoblade Chronicles 2.
- 300 hours on Fallout 3.
- Probably about 400 hours on Earthbound because I’ve played it at least once every year for more than a decade.
- 200-300 hours on Final Fantasy VI.
- 140 hours on Breath of the Wild.
I care deeply about those games, but dang. My own stats tell me I’m at about 166 hours into GoW just by PvP alone. What’s relevant here is one of the people in this thread is in that top 50. He has spent more than 600 hours on Gems of War. The #1 player has spent twice that.
So there is a very strong “sunken cost” among late-game players. It takes a few hundred hours of “investment” in the game to get there. That’s your answer to, “Why not just quit?”. People don’t like giving up on a thing and “losing” what they put into it.
That’s something F2P relies on, otherwise people would quit at the first point where the game says “Pay me $10 or grind for a few days.” The people who don’t are very unlikely to quit ever, no matter how miserable they get. That’s super valuable to the game’s wallet when those people are in mid-game and still have stuff they can buy. It’s not so valuable when they’re end-game and are unlikely to spend a lot more money.
In fact, if you really squint at most end-gamer complaints on the forum (and I am guilty of this too), it really boils down to:
“There isn’t a lot left in this game for me to do. But I have made a lot of friends through it and gained a lot of clout because I have invested so heavily. I don’t want to leave, start over in another game, and potentially lose my only common bond with several of my friends. So I’d really like it if the game had something more for me to do, because I’m struggling to keep up with my obligations and a little disturbed that I spend so much of my life on a game.”