Solo players “plaguing” the genre?

Here’s a poll I’ve noticed on EQ2’s forums (need to be subscribed to answer):

In other words 76% of those who answered the poll prefer to play up to a full group, while a small 14% likes larger groups.

I bet that in WoW the raid lovers would be even less in comparison.

Adding some comments. I’m often (more often than you imagine) a “solo” player but I don’t like this general trend. In fact I believe it’s pretty negative for the solo players, the community and the overall game.

It’s important to understand these trends and not just dismiss them superficially. In this case the situation is not encouraging. And that poll could be considered more as an “alarm”. Something that is also generalized to all mmorpgs, so not a specific problem of EQ2.

Stealing a comment from Darniaq that has some implications in what I’m describing:

* Sometimes, yes, people just want to get in for 15-30 minutes to kill some stuff. So forced-grouping is a problem for them.
* Other times they’re just shy. They want the opportunity to see other people, and experience the economy, but they won’t want to openly interact.
* Other times they don’t match the requirements of a group. Like, how many guilds would let a pickup raider join them on an AQ run if that raider still had green equipment?
* Other times someone just rubs them the wrong way, but leaving ostracizes them from the larger group.

I think there are design implications if the players start to deliberately avoid group content. It’s a symptom that needs to be considered seriously because it may say that something in the game doesn’t work too well.

In my case I said I’m often a solo player. But the real truth is that what I do depends above all on the *game* and not on my personal preferece of a playstyle over another. There are mmorpgs where I NEVER grouped with anyone even if I played for months. There are mmorpgs where I passed the majority of my time in groups and got even quite involved in the community.

Are solo players growing consistently in the genre because they really don’t want to bother with other players, or because they bump against accessibility barriers and design models that aren’t exactly encouraging and rewarding the cooperation?

Is “solo play” a real necessity or just a reaction to a lack of accessibility?

I have my answers as always and I know about these problems rather well since when I started playing mmorpgs I could barely write some words in english. Being “shy” isn’t a small detail, in particular when you face something completely new to you. Game design can do a lot in these cases, to overcome those “barriers”.

In fact I think there’s noting more important and pertinent to game design than that.

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