Not your screen monkey (he/him)
I came to the realization during a session of D&D Encounters that I was running. The realization is that for the first time in 29 years…I am not having fun with D&D! This feeling kind of scared the begezus out of me. I have loved every edition of D&D since BECMI and each version more than the previous. I have been enjoying 4E a lot… until lately. I started thinking about what was the cause and came to several conclusions. The actions of WOTC with essentials, product cancelations and a less than impressive showing at the GAMA trade show made me actually think about the game future. With that I started to realize that I wouldn’t miss it. I have been unhappy with the quality of D&D for a couple years. 4E’s perceived focus on combat was noticeable to me but not bothersome until a few years of it. Encounters really started showing me that there was something missing, I couldn’t say what, just a nagging feeling. The writing of D&D’s adventures has been falling below what I would consider acceptable for a while now. The entire DDI concept and follow-through has been poor in my opinion. Especially killing the adventure tools and character builder for the online versions, that well, are less than the originals to be nice. Not directly related to the rules, but the loss of the miniature line really got me as well. Don’t get me wrong, I love the hell out of D&D, but WOTC’s current leadership has tainted the heck out of everything and left me with a bad taste. 4E comes down to an illusion, an illusion of options, an illusion of choice, and an illusion of quality. I mean really, when skill challenges let you use just about any skill to accomplish any task, what is the point of differentiation. Bear with me; I know I’m not giving a ton of good examples, just some highlights of my disgruntlement. After thinking about my issues with 4E, I couldn’t enjoy DMing it anymore…and that is a most impressive feat if there ever was one. I actually threw a celebration declaring the end of my running 4E for good. The ending of playing does seem inevitable as well.
On one level, this sounds like your typical garden variety burnout. Taking a break from the game burning you out is the best prescription - mix in other games and other formats than D&D Encounters. That style of running a game is probably going to burn you out faster than the average ongoing home campaign.
On another level, you've got to learn to separate the stewardship of the game from the game itself. It can be hard, particularly when you come to the conclusion that the pass time you've invested a lifetime of effort into is either endangered or seriously in jeopardy of moving in a completely different direction from the one you want, but it will happen to every game sooner or later. Companies go out of business, they stop producing a particular product line, they change directions. When the official support is gone, gamers just have to take things into their own hands or shift games. Now, I wouldn't be surprised if this becomes a worse issue for 4e than previous editions. The DDI has, I think, become so much of a focus for players and DMs that I wouldn't be surprised to see the 4e-playing community dry up in short order once official 4e support is eventually phased out. That is, however, probably several years down the road. In the meantime, I recommend participating in various threads critical of WotC's business decisions to get it out of your system.
And finally, it does sound to me like you are actually having problems with 4e itself and not just the D&D Encounters format (contrary to some other advice you've gotten). I would recommend really analyzing how you want a game like 4e to fit into your leisure time and gaming hobby. Do you want it to be your main RPG? Or do you want something with different forms of variation between characters and skills? Would 4e still be a good occasional, pickup, beer and pretzels game? Along with this analysis, I strongly recommend mixing in some other games to play with your friends. There are plenty of other RPGs out there worth investigating including Pathfinder, Call of Cthulhu, Villains and Vigilantes (it really is back), Mutants and Masterminds, Dread, Aces and Eights, and more.