Fairly recently, they all got into Exalted. I got pulled into an established Exalted game a few months ago when another player got booted for skipping too many games. The game is a lot of fun, and I enjoy playing it. But the mechanics are so munchkiny compared to the other games I'm involved in that I have a bit of trouble taking it seriously. And now I feel like Exalted is spoiling some of my role-playing friends.
I'm running a tabletop Dark Conspiracy game, using the White Wolf system, primarily based on Mage. The game's been going fairly smoothly for over a year now, all things considering. And all of the sudden, the players are complaining that their characters aren't cool enough, that their die pools aren't big enough, that their powers aren't strong enough, that they don't advance quickly enough, that the rule of 1 (when rolling 10-siders, 1s cancel successes) gets in their way and makes it too hard to succeed, that they don't get Willpower back fast enough (Exalted characters tend to regain a couple per day; Mage characters generally have to act according to their Nature; i.e. role-play), and so forth.
I feel like I'm in competition with Exalted, where PCs are basically little gods in an anime-like setting where immense power is standard and ridiculous, cinematic, cartoony, fun stunts are frequent. I'm running a fairly serious, fairly real-world game where the PCs are meant to be average people in unusual circumstances, and are expected to act accordingly. No one originally seemed to have a problem with this; all my players are mature gamers who take their role-play seriously. It bugs me that all of the sudden they seem unhappy because the system we've been using all along doesn't stack up well with a system that's basically geared for constant, gigantic rewards.
Has anyone else had this problem? Not necessarily with Exalted, but with players comparing one system to another, and deciding they don't like one just because it's tougher on the players?
For that matter, has anyone else found that the popularity of Exalted has made other gamers less willing to play less instant-gratification-oriented games?