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Grouping versus soloing as the genre evolves

Eliot Lefebvre

Back in the day, there were two ways to play most MMOs -- you could form a group with other players, or you could stay inside the cities and wait. Those days are long gone, of course, and it's a rare game that doesn't allow a player to do quite a bit without the support framework of a group. But there's a point to be made about what's been lost in the process, and We Fly Spitfires has an interesting take on how we now have to be pushed and prodded into grouping. There was a time when people were expected to group to complete tasks, but players are increasingly opposed to the idea as more and more becomes possible to solo and we grow less and less patient for finding a group.

Unsurprisingly, Game by Night brings up the obvious counterpoint: that evolving game design has relegated forced grouping to the past. There are more MMO players now than there were back then, and the majority of them started on games such as World of Warcraft or City of Heroes where grouping was only occasionally necessary, and even then only for specific tasks. By removing the requirement, player expectations become different, and there's no longer a sense from most of the playerbase that soloing should be possible for a majority of tasks. It's a debate that's been had over and over through the years, but as the solo play model becomes more and more expansive, it no doubt will be revisted time and again -- and attitudes toward it will shift as the playerbase does.

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