Sometimes I want to play seasons and sometimes I just want to fiddle with all of the loot I collected over time and try some wacky stuff that would be unfeasible without lots of specific and strong loot.
What I like about seasons in ARPGs is that new mechanics (be they primary or secondary) can make the game fresh. It also gives me an excuse to try out a completely new build or two. If you like the season then you are good for a few months. If not, take a break and you typically know when to come back. Because the cycles increase revenue, there are often expansions to classes, skills, and general content.
What I ABSOLUTELY H A T E about seasons is when developers do yo-yo balancing. This makes over 90% of non-seasonal builds/classes underpowered or unviable. The biggest reason I left POE was because of this garbage balancing that assumes players are too STUPID to not get bored by playing the exact same build each season. If I want to play a particular build, don’t gut it because you want to force people into your newly reworked playstyle. League of Legends was handled similarly, though it was to force change in their professional scene so that they could keep their E-Sports aspect entertaining (at the cost of all their other players). Conversely, D2 did just fine and did not feel the need to wreck the majority of their character classes each season. Sure, when things like skill synergies came out that changed the balance - but it wasn’t targeted towards funneling people into a predetermined path. There were many builds that synergies actually enabled because of the new system, so I found that to be a great win.
As to seasonal necessity, it can be done without seasons. Games like Titan Quest, Grim Dawn, and Torchlight 1 & 2 proved that. Marvel Heroes had no seasons and did amazing before the company lost its talent/direction and imploded. So it is definitely possible. However, that does not mean there are no strong arguments in favor of seasons. They do encourage people to come back and play a game they left for awhile. Seasonal changes, to me, are like mutators in FPS games. Same game, but different enough to make me rethink how I am playing and what my intermediate goals should be.
Regardless of what we think and discuss there though, the biggest reason that seasons WILL be here is because money. It all comes back to money. Seasons are a good way to get new publicity and grow the playerbase. More people = more money. Also, there is the ever-present push for battle passes, selling limited time cosmetics, new lootboxes, and other monetization schemes that abuse psychology to manipulate people into making impulse buys that they will ultimately regret and try to justify to themselves and others as a coping mechanism down the road. It starts with the fear of missing out, then after the money changes hands and cognitive dissonance sets in, the streamers and advertisements are pushed to normalize reckless and unsustainable spending patterns that CEOs and Investors love so much.
So yeah, seasons are a thing and will be a thing. They can be done in a good way that promotes fun, fresh gameplay and creative experimentation. They can also be plagued by corporate monetization fueling all the decision-making, leading to a greed-fueled train-wreck. GGG started off much like Eleventh Hour Games with people who loved making games and wanted to create the ultimate ARPG (I know because I was in POE’s closed beta all those many years ago). POE isn’t the only example though. Look at CD Projekt Red, Blizzard Entertainment, Gazillion Entertainment, Overkill Software, Tripwire Interactive, and countless other gaming companies that sold out their players in some for or another for that sweet cash. But, only time will tell. There are a few devs like Supergiant Games and Crate Entertainment in the world. What I do know, is that money and power change people - though seldom is it for the better.