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MMORPG.com Staff Blog

The staff of MMORPG.com gets together to bring you some behind the scenes insights on stories, the industry and the site itself.

Author: staffblog

Contributors: BillMurphy,MikeB,garrett,SBFord,Grakulen,

Community Spotlight: MMOs Less Social?

Posted by MikeB Sunday November 6 2011 at 9:23PM
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This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "Why have MMORPGs become less social? Is it the design or the players? (Poll)" by Creslin321. Creslin321 says:

"Whether you prefer the old school MMORPG style or the new, I think that everyone can agree that newer MMORPGs have made a definitive move towards becoming less social.  Whereas players used to form communities, conduct trade, and group up for PvE; players now compete for quest goals while soloing and rush through dungeons with random people.

So my question is, what is the main factor behind this shift?  Some argue that it's because the "new generation" of players are just not interested in being social and have a "gimme now" mentality.  While others argue that the games themselves necessitate less social behavior due to things like quest-node leveling and dungeon finder.

So what is your opinion on the issue?  Please answer the poll and tell us why you feel that way."

So does the MMORPG.com community agree that MMOs have become less social? Read on to find out!

Dragim has a well thought out assessment of the entire situation:

"I believe it is a little of both.

I hate to, but I will use WoW as an example, as well as Everquest and Dark age of camelot.

In everquest, you had to ask questions to obtain your goals, you had to work together with people to acheive the things you wanted to acheive (generally.)

In dark age of camelot, it was similar.  Player housing provided a new way to interact, as well as the "open dungeons" that you could go into, that were not instanced.

Then came WoW.

It was great at first, people grouped, people talked, there was Open World PvP, that was unstructured, people just did it for...(GASP) the fun of it.

Then...came dungeon finder, cross server PvP, cross server dungeon finder.

You no longer had to make friends, you no longer even had to know anyone.  You could play your single player game without any player interaction what so ever.

Heck even the dungeons are so easy that you don't have to speak 1 word to your group, just go in and go through the motions.

---

Now many other games are copying this type of play because they feel "this is what the players want" and it also is a prevention to when their game fails, because if they already offer cross server grouping, cross server instanced pvp, then they don't have to "introduce it" as a last ditch effort to keep people playing when the game is dieing.

I can see the "good" in allowing cross server grouping, but in my opinion it destroys server unity, it destroys relationships, and it defeats the whole purpose of playing a true MMORPG,

If you want "cross server grouping/pvp"  maybe you should play a game like DIablo, which is designed around that sort of thing.

--

I know it can be scary to actually interact with real people and talk to them, but aren't humans generally social creatures in some form or another?

---

So I guess my closing statement will be that it is the players fault for the MMOs becomming less social, but it is also the developers fault for allowing these people to be so anti-social and basing their games around instance type scenarios instead of Open World type things, such as PvP, Bosses, Dungeons, Or even Live Events...(Live events in EQ were awesome and seemed to happen a lot, the only other game I have heard of live events happening would be Rift, but that was in beta, I do not play Rift in release mode)."

angerbeaver feels MMOs are less socia land this is due (ultimately) to the people playing them:

"I would say the people.

If the majority of people did not want the way the games are designed, then the majority wouldn't play them.

In the above example why would you blame the developpers for catering to the mass of it's customers. Generally speaking that's how business stay open (especially niches).

I personally enjoy not having to sit around looking for a group or rely on guildies for everything. I enjoy the games I play but I don't have time for LFG etc... etc..."

Terranah also agrees, but feels it is due to a combination of both players and design:

"It's a combo of both design and players.  

I think the assumption of game producers and developers is there are a set number of gamers in total and to attract more to this particular genre you need to broaden the appeal, so by incorporating mechanics similar to other genres and platforms they appeal to a wider base in theory.  But console and fps, two genres heavily drawn upon, are not really social beyond...."BOOM, HEADSHOT!!!!". 

Thinking back to my fps days and six to eight hour marathon sessions playing Star Trek Elite Force, the only socializing I had ingame typically was, "GG."  Even when I got on vent or TS and played team deathmatch or capture the flag, conversations were kept to a bare minimum, to plan or describe strategy.

My console days were even more abysmal, even though I had an XBOX360 with headset.  You'd think it would have been a great tool to socialize, but conversations were typically adverserial, crude, racist, sexist and homophobic, so I turned off the feature.

After my fps and console days, I began to yearn for more than pew pew.  I felt a void in my gaming life, and my virtual persona longed to be more than a 2d action figure.  Enter Precu SWG.  I was primed for it right from the start, and SWG did not disappoint.  

Different genres of gaming require different skill sets, and socializing nicely is a particular skill set that is not requisite for success in other genres."

It's definitely true that most MMOs nowadays seem to be a deal less social, but it's hard to say whether it's truly due to development or people not wanting to socialize. The optimist in me wants to say its a result of game design catering to the lowest common denominator (the ADD types) and that there are actually a huge segment of MMO gamers that are likely quite social. The problem is you need a reason for people to be social and it's hard to establish one without bogging down the game. Nowadays, developers add "social hubs" to their games in the hopes that players will you know, socialize, at them. I can't say this really ever works as these areas only tend to offer vendors and auction houses. Sure, it gets a bunch of people in the same place, but most of them are either hawking wares or glued to the auction house interface and ignoring everyone else.

If I think back to games that were highly social, I think of games like Star Wars Galaxies. Why did social hubs work in SWG? Simple. There were reasons to hang around for lengthy bits of time. For example, you'd spend a good 5-10 minutes sometimes acquiring a Mind buff from a dancer in a cantina. Players hanging around would often get into conversations as a result, especially since the players who played Musicians and Dancers were often very social and liked to socialize amongst each other as well as their customers. The flip-side of this is, as I mentioned earlier, it does bog down the game if you need to go hang out anywhere for 5-10 minutes to get buffs in order to go out and quest successfully. That kind of dependence doesn't seem to be around so much anymore.

nate1980 writes:

I think MMORPG's need features that require socializing from the time you finish getting oriented into the game (shouldn't take more than 1-3 hours) and forever past then. Features that have worked in the past were:

* Required grouping for the best xp

* Trade (ie. SWG player shops)

* Buffs (ie. SWG Entertainers and Docs)

Players these days are too caught up into hurrying up to get things done in the allotted time they have to play. Everyone just needs to take a step back and remember we're playing for fun, that MMORPG's last for years so there's no rush, and take their time to enjoy the game world with other people. If a person only has 1-3 hours to play, and it takes 10 minutes to form a group and another 10 minutes to get to the content, and as a result only gains a partial level or a level, so what? You'll eventually reach max level and I guarantee you will before the game shuts down (assuming the game stays open for many years like most do).

Sun Nov 06 2011 11:41PM Report
theniffrig writes:

Over 75+ people online in a WoW guild. 0 guild chat. People who do ask something in the guild chat get no replies. What's up with that?!

It's a "Generation-Me" mindset. You really see this on the forums when people discuss loot; "They shouldnt get the best loot, it makes me feel less of a special little snowflake."

It's a topic I could go on & on about, but I'm going to stop........now!

Mon Nov 07 2011 6:35AM Report
BadSpock writes:

We have become content consumers, not adventure seekers.

I think this is mostly do the genre "maturing" to the point where things are no longer fresh and new and exciting for many players.

The thought of playing a game, online, with hundreds (thousands) of other players used to be magical and an adventure in and of itself.

Now it's common. Everything is multiplayer. Hundreds of MMORPGs to choose from.

A lot of the magic is gone due simply to increased awareness and understanding.

Like science in real life, the "magic" of something new and different and unexplored becomes simply obvious after it is discovered, analyzed, and catalogued.

Society in general has also "sped up" with instant, fast access to everything.

I started playing MMOs on dial up. Dial up modems. Wow...

Mon Nov 07 2011 6:37AM Report
Reianor writes:

Well, there are those who don't want to socialize in MMOs at all.

Then there are those who want to socialize in general, in other words "Hang out".

And then there's an MMO specific socialization, where you group and interact with people based on your in-game needs.

MMOs were originaly about the third, now they are moving towards the first. Problem is, the closer they get to it the farther they get from MMOs.

Just placeing hubs isn't going to work. More "harsh" incentive is requred to encourage MMO specific interactions.

The fact that Industry has picked a trend towards less socail games doesn't mean that MMO players have become less social.

It means that the industry wants to milk subscribtions from something that isn't much of an MMO.

Think about it - if a pesron doesn't want to interact with other players in an MMO what does he/she want from MMO?

Updates, big world, plain old grinding, an opportuninty to compare his/her game-fu to those of others, maybe to be one small fish among hundreds or thousands when crowd influences something in an MMO world.

Does that smell like an MMO to you? Well, it does a little, but lagrely unsocial audience belongs to fanbases of different generes.

What's happening is that companies are trying to grab some audience from there and make them pay monthly subscribtion for the stuff they could mostly do with a box of Diablo and network connection way back in 1996.

 

The meat of an MMO is about making an impact on that MMO's world. REAL impact, not some "hey, I've been there when our whole race zerged that keep".

And since you can't make an impact alone, the real impact comes from working closely with a group of other people.

When you clan takes a keep and you come back later to see it being kept or siedged or even lost in a battle that you missed, that's when an MMO realy happens.

When you go through a dungeon and find you partners on the next day that's also when an MMO happens.

Wnen your siedge has given it's fruit, and several months later you discuss it with the same people that participaded in it, and it feels like your cooperation has realy done something that's when you really get your money's worth from an MMO.

When you pay 15 bucks a month for an ability to to play a quick interaction which you'll hardly ever remember with some random people you're unlikely to ever meet again that's when you've been had by the industry.

I hope this helps atleast someone to take a look at modern so-called MMOs form a different angle.

Mon Nov 07 2011 7:24AM Report
Torvaldr writes:

I don't agree MMOs have become less social.  Some may be less social, but my game has a great server community.  How we socialize might have changed some since early games, but I don't think "less social" is accurate at all.

 

The OP has a preconceived notion of what socializing is.  My server (Faeblight) is very social.  We chat in global-level chat, group for pve, help each other out, answer questions, argue, trade, and so on.  If you're looking for a certain type of social interaction to play out in a specific manner then you might come to the conclusion that there is less social interaction.  If you're just looking to game and interact with others, then no I don't think there is less socializing.

Mon Nov 07 2011 10:00AM Report
halobump writes:

Don't want to rush, try playing Final Fantasy XI Online! That game made everyone slow down to a crawl - and even the new high speed hubs they put in later on it was still slow!

I miss that game sometimes.

Mon Nov 07 2011 2:33PM Report
AsatrusFire writes:

Personally, I think that these games are designed to attract the dumbest players out there. They are much too easy and become boring very quickly and because of that the real "gamers" are no longer the core players. WoW is the perfect example of this trend and unfortunately too many other game makers have chosen to follow the same path instead of offering any real challenge. For those of us with a brain who know how to use it, it is back to board games like Chess or Axis and Allies.

Tue Nov 08 2011 7:15AM Report
NortonGB writes:

There is not any definitive move to make mmo's less social. If players are choosing to play more alone that is their personal choice.

If there is any trend it is the realization for producers and devs to cater for solo players more than they have in the past to give thier mmo a wider appeal or player base.

Sat Nov 12 2011 4:32AM Report

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