I just don’t think there’s anything inherently engaging about realm once you’ve reached a certain level of ‘richness’ - i.e. acquired lost halls whites, 8/8 all chars. This is where I’m at, and is why I’ve quit for now. There’s no long term goal, and although O3 extends this a bit, new content isn’t really the way games are meant to extend long-term engagement - they’re more like medium term. Events are super short term, and more of a band-aid fix, but there’s nothing wrong with them from time to time, Deca just overdid it a bit, and rifts are kind of like just longer events.
Now that I think about it, a lot of additions by Deca have been geared towards creating long-term engagement. That’s why I think exaltations are so exciting, because they really accomplish this goal (if done right).
I actually think a really good case study for this game is Planetside 2 (another niche mmo shooter), I could actually make a whole post on comparisons in game development between the two, but the short version is they both have very similar playerbases number’s wise, similar long-term development history (8-ish years), and are both struggling to keep players engaged in the long-term due to most of their vets having accomplished all the pre-existing short-term goals (get 8/8s, buy weapons, etc.).
What’s really interesting to me about PS2 is that they are also pushing a major game update (The Shattered Warpgate) in which the primary focus is the addition of missions in the form of daily quests and a long-term campaign. PS2 never has had missions before, it’s a bit of a sandbox, and so they struggle with player retention. Surprise surprise, you give player’s long-term goals - they stay long.
I think exaltation can only be a good sign of Deca’s efforts to keep players engaged for longer, and is probably a common occurrence in games -especially mmo’s- that last this long. So although there may be a few gripes here and there about exaltation numbers, I think it’s ultimately really good for the game.
(on a side note, longer quests, like month-long, would be really sick if done well for rotmg)