When I started thinking about this subject, I remembered reading something on the subject a while back on the Daedalus Project.
Going by the figures Nick Yee collected back in 2006, less than a quarter of the players he spoke with had more than one account.
I can't help but wonder if that number will have increased or decreased with time.
Without getting too much in the state of the world-economy, as we all have to tighten our belts that little bit more, we'll end up looking for cheaper ways of relaxing and blowing of some steam. I wouldn't be the first person to point out that the average cost of a monthly MMO subscription is less than you'll spend on one night at the cinema.
While it's absolutely not my place to fault Dr. Yee's work, and I certainly don't intend to, I would have liked to see him also ask about how many players had more than one account active for the same game, and the reasons why.
The reasons given for having subscriptions to more than one game aren't surprising. Players maintain several subscriptions due to having friends and family still active in the game; or they feel that the time spent so far with the game will be wasted if they cancelled the account; or for financial reasons like waiting for the subscription plan to expire, or simply forgetting the subscription was there.
If people were asked why they play more than one game, I'd expect to see similar answers, but I'd hope to see some others, too. Game mechanics, for one. When I went back and looked at Star Wars Galaxies a while back, I didn't feel like it was a game I'd really want to play on a regular basis. That said, the crafting in the game was still as interesting as I remembered. A crafting system that isn't a simple pass/fail mechanic, rewarding time spent hunting for high-quality raw materials, and classes whose sole purpose is to craft rather than quest ticked a lot of boxes for me. And while the ground game left a lot to be desired, there was still a lot of fun to be had in space, hunting Rebels or Imperials, depending on which side your bread was buttered on.
My point is that it's a rare game that provides you with everything you want. Maybe you play one game because the combat system is second to none, but another one because the RP tools in it haven't been bettered yet. Graphics are a big thing for a lot of people, and the cartoonish graphics of WoW have put off more than one person in the past, without a doubt. Realistic graphics and presentation, on the other hand, won't stop your game from being slated if it deserves it – see Age of Conan for proof.
Your turn now. Do you run more than one MMO at a time? Which ones are they, and why? Hit the comments, and let the world know.