How much time have you wasted on alts?

Goblin Warlock

Another alt bites the dust.

Today I rolled another three alts in WoW. Alts of alts, in fact. Yep, I deleted my level 15 Warlock Goblin alt and started a Warlock Blood Elf alt-alt. I also deleted my Worgen Rogue alt and started a Goblin Rogue alt-alt. Finally, I also created a new Warrior who’s an alt of a level 15 Warrior I have who’s an alt of a level 67 Warrior I deleted who was an alt of my level 85 Warrior main. And if you followed any of that then you surely deserve a place in Mensa.

I’m actually starting to think I have a problem. I had this weird moment this afternoon when I was playing through the Blood Elf starting area for, oh I don’t know, the 100th time, and had a flashback to a vivid memory from about two years ago. In it, I recalled playing the exact same class through the exact same starting area. Two years ago. I’m starting to feel like I’m either stuck in some sort of warped MMO Groundhog Day or my attention span is that of a hyperactive four year old chimpanzee.

What’s worse though is when I tally up all of the lost hours I’ve spent rolling alts over and over again. I’ve deleted some rather high level characters too in order to make way for new ones, usually over silly whims to try something new. I also have this bad habit of deleting lower level characters to recreate them as a different race (it’s ‘cheaper’ than paying for the race transfer) all because I’m incredibly shallow and fickle, it seems. Wouldn’t it be nice if somehow all of these hours spent on deleted characters could be banked and transferred when appropriate? It would be nice sometimes to be able to play exactly a level 32 Orc Mage for no other reason when I simply felt like it right at that moment.

All of this lost time isn’t just in WoW either and I don’t even want to think about all of the hundreds of alts I’ve created and discarded over the years in the multitude of MMOs I’ve played. It’s certainly adds up to a lot of wasted time. OK, that’s not fair, I had fun with them so it’s not really wasted but still, it seems slightly sad to have gone through so many characters and still have nothing to show for it at the end of the day other than, presumably, a gigantic log of deleted avatars on some remote server in the middle of nowhere.

In some ways, I do think altoholism is a real addiction because it seems to be, from my experience, that once you start down the path of creating alts, it’s very hard to stop. If I invest enough time in a single character and manage to remain monogamous (for lack of a better word) for a reasonable duration, then the alt fever never takes grip and I can quite easily stay focused for months on end. But once I break and my roll my first alt, it’s end of days.

Am I the only one who suffers from this plight? Is it a problem others share? Or should I just suck it up, take some Ritalin and stop my whining?


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  1. Pascal says:

    I’m not sure if I’d count it as a problem; but now you have me wondering. I do it to explore classes or because I read something that has me itching to act out the story I’ve just read and I need a Warrior type or similar to fill that need for fantasy.

    It would be nice if a MMO would allow you to recycle alts into something more tangible though. In EVE you can always drop a character onto the bazaar and hopefully get some ISK for them. Maybe if you could trade them in for levels or points or something in a more traditional MMO it wouldn’t feel so wasted, even though you had fun.

    But then, that would cut into revenue.

  2. Nils says:

    This time isn’t lost! You had fun imagining something new and playing. Please don’t take this journey away from me, too, by making ‘time transferable’. Even if this weren’t an immersion problem (yeah, I know., silly to talk about immersion in 2012) I’d think that the way it is right now is just the way it should be.

    If you want to try something new you can do so, have fun, come back later. What’s not to like about it?

    • Pascal says:

      I’m always surprised to see anything optional branded as “taking something away”. Not a negative comment, I’m just amused. It’s like – if I had the option to have the time transferred you’d somehow be forced to do the same. Why?

      • Nils says:

        Because that’s what happens when you offer something optional:

        Offer a kill-now button and you take away the fun of killing things in MMOs. Offer a get-my-next-epic-now button and you take a way the fun of collecting epics.

        Games consist of rules which constrict the players from reaching goals and thus force them on journeys which are (hopefully) fun. Change the rules in a way that the optimal paths to the goals become less fun and the game becomes less fun.

  3. Xintia says:

    I always try and stick to a main character, and in some games I am more successful at it than others. Often when I roll an alt, it is for a specific purpose such as filling in a “gap” that my main character cannot fill, such as crafting professions or a certain group role. Sometimes these alts end up becoming my new mains. This was the case when I was playing WoW as I dumped my warlock for a shaman alt that I started up, and consequently never looked back.

    But I think different people roll alts for different reasons. It’s only a waste of time if you choose to view it as such. From my point of view, it is never a waste to experience the game from a new perspective, which is often what an alt helps you to do.

  4. Syl says:

    12 days to be precise. what do I win? :D
    alt-play is not for me and an MMO that pushes me towards it (out of “main boredom”) is likely to lose me as player. however, I know many other players enjoy their alts for various reasons and that’s fair enough! as Nils pointed out, I certainly wouldn’t call it “wasted time” or else you’d have to call all time spent on enjoying videogames a waste thereof.

  5. pkudude99 says:

    I don’t waste time on alts. I love every moment of it, so none if it’s wasted.

  6. Kierbuu says:

    I enjoy a variety of classes and races. Wouldn’t call it time wasted as much as my own preferred play style. Sure I’ve spent a lot of in game time re-rolling for the upteenth time, but I’ve had fun doing it.

    Now the people who run the same end game raid week after week with only a piece or two of equipment to show for it… well it takes all kinds I guess.

  7. Ironyca says:

    I’m the opposite – I can’t delete them. I get attached to the lowest levels of alts, alts with only an afternoon of playtime. Making alts around servers is dangerous, maybe I’ll get stuck! So I stick to the 10 characters on my one realm and spend days figuring out what to do about the fact I want a druid AND a monk in the expansion – oh no! This means I might have to delete the lvl 29 paladin I haven’t played since Vanilla!

  8. Tremayne says:

    I’ve not ‘wasted’ a second on playing alts, although I tend to have a lot of them :)

    MMOs are games, they’re a hobby, they’re a pastime. The point of playing them is entertainment unless you happen to be sat in China earning a dollar a day for farming gold. If you’re having fun doing whatever you’re doing, it is not wasted time. If you’re not having fun… for frack’s sake log out and do something else.

    How would people react if this question was changed to some other non-achievement based activity, for example “How much time have you wasted on roleplaying when you could have been raiding?”

  9. Shadiya says:

    Well in WOW it was much easier to get lots of alts and equip all. My all alts were almost as good as my main. But in RIFT it’s not that easy. I still have 2,5 alts in RIFT but all the time I want to login alts to play (to equip) I feel I still have works to do on my main. Have to level for more attunement points (more points=better stats), have to get more stones, have to gain reputation, have to get new mounts, pets from world events… In RIFT actually alts sometimes make me get fresh air without any obligations. I feel like this is just an alt don’t have to push it harder :)

  10. Telwyn says:

    I’d never consider alt time as time wasted, it’s a chance to do different things in games and to see different playstyles. In WoW I filled my 10 slots very early on, I was actually leveling my 5th character through Cataclysm content towards 85 this weekend. I generally create lots of alts in games with half-decent crafting though, WoW I had 10, Lotro I made one for each crafting profession. Rift not so much, I had one main and one alt character for a static.

    Now in SWTOR I have created two alts to reserve names but I haven’t played them past the starter area yet. I feel no rush to do so either, though I’ll probably get on with my trooper once I have my Jedi Sage capped.

    Since I pretty much abhor the traditional heroic/raid end-game model, leveling characters *is* the game for me and always will be.

  11. bloob says:

    I’d guess about 85%. It does require the possibility of them being distinctive though: races, classes, factions, starting zones, religions even in EQ like the choice of goodie or baddie factions of the same race/class in Qeynos etc.

  12. Tesh says:

    I don’t worry about what I have to show for my play. Other than a grumpy wife, that is.

    Alts and mains… it’s all playing. That’s enough for me. And yes, I have plenty of alts. That’s how I explore the mechanics of a game.

  13. NoAstronomer says:

    Wasted? None.

  14. Overflow says:

    I actually tried to go the Alt-first route with SWTOR. I initially wanted to level 6 characters simultaneously in 5 or 10 level intervals all the way to endgame. The reasoning behind it was to see all four original stories, then switch two of them up by choosing more light or dark side options, and also have 6 max level characters for crafting.

    The problem was that crafting wasn’t fleshed out well in the game and I wanted to PvP but didn’t want to get far behind the curve. So, I leveled one character to 50, and now I’m leveling the others in equal intervals while balancing PvP time on my main.

    It’s not as interesting, but I need a main character. I guess I’m not a full blown altoholic. ;-)

  15. David says:

    Its all down to the boffins at Blizzard.
    They tweek and alter high level toons so often that when you get facerolled by a certain class in say PvP you then think subconsiously, woooooh I wana pay that class.
    Boom, you start an alt.
    By the time this alt becomes high level its now near the bottom of the damage aking pile.
    You then get facerolled by the class you left months ago because it was as soft as ” well you guess ”
    So there ya go , rinse and repeat on the great Blizz merry go round of tweek toons to make you re roll and re roll again and again .
    They are the masters of keeping you psying that monthly dollar.
    Unless like me you go to Battlefield 3 rehab for a few months to cold turkey the Wow alt addiction.
    Thats untill it starts again with Pandas i suppose ;)

  16. mistral says:

    Wow, I can’t believe so many people posted here that they have that many alts. I personally only play one or at the most two characters. I guess alting isn’t for me.

  17. vortalism says:

    I wouldn’t say “wasted” so much as “invested”. Yeah I would say I play alts. A lot. But that’s what I like about MMOs. Cause in RPGs like Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Baldur’s Gate, Arcanum, The Elder Scrolls you usually have so much choice and so many paths to go it becomes to troublesome to handle many characters at once.

    MMOs however can be played with many different characters at once, and the progression of each doesn’t feel that obligated. (Unless you raid).

  18. Evlyxx says:

    You are not alone!

    Having just deleted my level 85 NELf mage (rolled for a guild achievement who replaced my level 85 human mage who I transferred off my main server to make room) and then paid to transfer my human mage back (why I didn’t just race change?) I can empathise.

    When I did this I also decided to have a cleaned up of all my alts on various servers deleting a level 85 warrior on a server I rolled on to join an “experimental guild”, a 43 shaman and a host of sub 20 alts.

    I still have left 10 85’s on my Alliance server and 9 alts between 20 and 83 on my Horde server. I also have a trial account hosting a name saver for my Panderan monk, a calculated gamble that Blizz would give us an 11th slot. Altholism is a definte problem for me and one that I am resisting greatly at the moment.

  19. Hughes says:

    Considering I have 9 total 85’s and probably a dozen more toons that are above level 70, add in that I have played since a month or something after WoW launched, my main has 134 days played alone, my second main having 90 days played…just those two alone are ridiculous in game time played, I’d hate to add up all the time I have invested into my toons. I have invested a lot of time into the game, no doubt, luckly though I take a few month break every so often. That of course makes me want to make alts when I come back but thankfully with all the exp bonus gear and perks…so much less time now than the toons I have at max level or near max level currently.

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