The MMO Black Desert Online hasn’t done too badly, and I don’t know why since it doesn’t have anything fun to hit with your sword. Then it somehow makes up for that by having one of the most painful ways of upgrading your sword, while it continues to be no fun to use.
Technically the game has world player-vs-player, which is fun if you like that stuff. But it really doesn’t. The killed player loses nothing and doesn’t even respawn that far away. Meanwhile, the attacker loses good-guy points. To make it worse, PvP assumes everyone is on South Korea’s blazing fast local internet. It doesn’t account for lag well enough to keep world PvP from being guessing and luck.
To annoy players more, once you reach high level the game changes your skills. The archer gets it worse — they change to a swordsman; but everyone gets to relearn a playstyle they didn’t want. Years after release the game added the option to keep your old skills, but still messed it up. You switch over to the new set, but you can now check the internet for how to switch back.
Upgrading gear uses a not uncommon money and luck system — a week of income spent at the auction house for stuff giving you a 70% chance at another +1 bonus to your gloves. BDO’s is even more poorly explained and complicated, which is somehow a point of pride. For example, there’s an item to store enchantment failure bonuses. Huh? It turns out that each time you fail to enchant an item you get a small, cumulative bonus towards the next attempt. That’s common enough. But a clever BDO player can exploit that by failing to enchant a cheap, low-chance item, building up the failure bonus, then switching in the item you really want. Or, the ultimate — save that failure bonus in an item until you have several. This is somehow fun.
To sum up, I get how MMO’s have fun parts interleaved with boring grinds. I don’t get how BDO cuts out the fun part and is still popular. It’s endgame is making money by farming, fishing, crafting, and possibly spending hours running in a circle mowing down monsters like wheat. Then spending that money to be slightly better at farming, fishing, crafting and running in a circle mowing down monsters like wheat. There are perfectly good games like that — constantly playing with systems to get the highest cash/hour. It’s just weird for an MMO to turn into that.