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Staff Writer Steve Wilson returns this week with his Casual Play column. This time around, Steve discusses the ways in which solo play can actually help to build an MMORPG community.
It may seem contrary, but solo content really does more to encourage the building of long-term communities than forced grouping.
Traditionally it's been held that solo content hurts MOGs which were meant to be played as group efforts. Many games enforce this philosophy by making the environment more difficult to defeat than a single player can handle. In the teens to twenties players began to discover that monsters began attacking in packs or are tougher than they can handle by a lone player. In order to continue playing, the player is forced to seek out a group to adventure with. On the surface this would seem to be pretty straightforward design, players have to group, which forces them to meet other players, which leads to friendships. These forced friendships potentially increase subscription times, since most studies have shown that players will continue long after the game is no longer fun if they have friends that they enjoy hanging out with. It's assumed that grouping is obviously a good thing when in fact it's having friends that lengthen subscription times.
Read the column here.