Leaderboard: Must MMORPGs revolve around grouping to be MMORPGs?

    
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It would be easy to dismiss Saga of Lucimia’s pervasive “group-based or go home” ideas as mere rhetoric, but the reality is, there exists a small segment of the veteran MMORPG population that genuinely believes an MMO is not an MMO if it doesn’t focus exclusively or near-exclusively on grouping, and there are going to be games that cater to those folks.

I wanted to bring up that recent tweet because it seems like an extremist, maybe even revisionist position to take for a game in our market, and I don’t just mean in 2018 when plenty of non-MMOs have called themselves MMOs and even more MMOs have shunned the term. I mean in terms of the historical games being used as a touchstone for these ideas. Yes, some early MMORPGs like EverQuest emphasized group content; while you could level up on some classes and in some cases alone, for the most part, you needed to group up to get things done, whether you were taking down a dragon or just trying to squeeze out a few more bubbles of level in the midgame.

But Ultima Online wasn’t like that. And Asheron’s Call wasn’t like that. And Anarchy Online wasn’t like that. Star Wars Galaxies sure wasn’t like that. Dark Age of Camelot, OK, RvR game, you’d better bring a lot of dudes and dudettes to your keep brawls or you’re going to get rolled. But for the most part, EverQuest and its group-or-die mentality was an anomaly among the formative MMORPGs of our genre. Even World of Warcraft, in copying so much from EQ seven years after the first MMORPG was born, dumped the idea of leveling up in a group, reserving that type of content only for dungeons and endgame. In most of these games, grouping is very much a thing, often a beneficial thing – anybody up for a 20-man krayt dragon hunt?! – but most of the time, you’re not going to be grouped. And they’re all still MMORPGs.

I’m curious about what our readers think about the relationship between grouping and MMOs. Let’s do it for Leaderboard.

Leaderboard: Must MMORPGs revolve around grouping to be MMORPGs?

  • I don't think an MMORPG must offer any group content to be an MMORPG. (29%, 96 Votes)
  • I think an MMORPG must offer at least some group content to be an MMORPG, but I don't think it needs to be a requirement for advancement. (26%, 87 Votes)
  • I think an MMORPG must offer a fair amount of group content to be an MMORPG, and most people will probably group at some point to advance in the game. (24%, 81 Votes)
  • I think an MMORPG must offer a significant amount of group content to be an MMORPG. Players should be heavily dependent on other people to advance. (13%, 44 Votes)
  • I think an MMORPG has to offer almost entirely group content to be an MMORPG. Players should be able to complete very little in the game without a group. (3%, 11 Votes)
  • Something else (tell us in the comments). (3%, 9 Votes)
  • No response / just view tally / elf butts (2%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 335

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Mush V. Peets

They don’t HAVE to, but if they aren’t based around grouping, they’d better at least not discourage free cooperation. GW2 open-world mechanics are pretty good about this.

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Brown Jenkin

People love drawing lines in the sand when it comes to MMOs, this is a particularly silly one imo. Early on (and it lingers to some degree) folks raged against GW2 daring to question the age old MMO standards of forcing players into groups in order for them to progress alongside each other. To date I find GW2 to be one of the most social and cooperative play-friendly MMOs ever, in large part because it dared to question those beliefs. Beyond instanced content, folks should group because they *want* to, not because game mechanics force them to be in a group of a certain size to clear content. I love group play in GW2 in large part because it is a choice of playstyles.

All the above being said, hey, some folks are into games that force grouping, and I’ve got no problem with games being designed with those folks in mind. Just please make it clear to the rest of us so we know what to spend our time on based on our interests.

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Tamanous

Just make DIFFERENT TYPES of mmorpgs! How is this so f’ing hard to figure out? Variety and choice.

“Everyone must participate equally” has destroyed the industry. It’s just lowering the bar on everything. Diversity is a dirty word these days and its implementation is opposite of what it actually means. And it’s not even the driving force behind the state of games. It’s the cash model designed around mass number percentages.

Make different games for different audiences and provide APPROPRIATE pay models that support the audience size.

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Kickstarter Donor
thalendor

Must an MMO revolve around grouping? No.

Should it? That depends on who the target market is.

That said, it really has been quite a wait since there’s been an MMO catering to group-based play in most aspects of the game. For someone like myself, seeing games like Pantheon and Saga of Lucimia in development is a breath of fresh air.

Reader
Zen Dadaist

Well, if there’s no group content then why does the Massively Multiplayer part even matter? I don’t like enforced group content, but the option to do content in a group? Absolutely!

Reader
Hikari Kenzaki

I don’t really care if people want to bicker about if it’s a true MMO or not.

If I can’t duo, you’re not likely to get my money.

If I can duo but can’t solo, you’re less likely to get my money.

If you can only run in big groups, you’re not going to get my money.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
mysecretid

Exactly.

Arguing the semantics of what “MMORPG” can mean is a deflection, at best.

The real question, in my opinion, becomes “Are there enough types of fun activity for me in this online game that I will will continue to play it, and to put money towards it?”

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Wolfyseyes

I’m forever exhausted by people who use a bloody acronym as a weapon. Like a game is lesser than if you’re not courting millions regularly despite only seeing perhaps a few dozen in any one place at best.

If you’re a persistent world of some sort that offers a breadth of activities for groups of all sizes, then you’re good.

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Tulerezzer

Group is the way to go imo. All my greatest MMO memories are group/raid stuff. I can’t think of a single memorable solo play session in any MMO game. When you pull off a “come-from-behind” victory who do you laugh/joke/chat with about it alone?

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Kickstarter Donor
Pandalulz

I sit somewhere between the first and second option. I don’t think that any group content should be required, but it should definitely be offered, scalability is key.

Asheron’s Call is a good example. You could solo into a dungeon, find a quiet corner and pull single mobs all day long if you wanted to, but there was nothing more fun than joining up with folks from the monarchy and committing mass genocide to that dungeon instead.

Reader
sophiskiai

I think it’s great that Saga of Lucimia is catering to the players who want heavily group-based content, but the devs’ constant elitist attitude about grouping being the “one true way” to MMORPG makes me so annoyed!

The MMO part of the acronym just means that lots of players are online in the same instance, and the RPG part just means that the game makes some efforts towards immersion and playing the role of your character. Being a loner is a valid roleplaying choice too.

And if a game’s going to prioritise group content in 2018 then please, for the love of all the gods, include a quick and easy automated groupfinder system.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Specus

In principle, I don’t have a problem with forcing group content in an MMO, but whether or not it works relies a lot on the quality of the game’s community and how the grouping mechanics are designed.

For example, in FFXIV:ARR (back when I played it regularly), I felt SE did a great job of managing the group dungeons that gated character progression. They gave the higher level toons a reason to come back and re-do the lower level dungeons, which kept queue lengths short. Also, the community was wonderful and I never had a bad PUG in that game (there were a few annoying players, but the groups in general were good experiences). As a whole, the forced group dungeons that gated progression ended up being enjoyable to a loner like me.

In contrast, there are a lot of MMOs where PUGs are painful. Forcing grouping in an MMO with a semi-toxic community will drive me away from the game faster than anything (I can usually enjoy playing a game with a semi-toxic community, as long as I don’t need to interact with those idiots and have ways to ignore them). Also, there are plenty of MMOs where queue lengths for many of the low-level dungeons are unreasonably long. I don’t want to spend my entire gaming time waiting around until there is enough people to run a dungeon.

Not everyone that enjoys playing MMOs has a naturally outgoing personality that is comfortable dealing with strangers (and idiots). For those types of people, forced grouping will most likely be a huge turn-off, if not managed well.