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Both GW2 and Rift will use a form of casual grouping. And While I think it's a good solution and a step up, I also wonder: will it really offer everything that some people are pinning all their hopes on it to be?
I've played Rift for a while, and while it was true that casual grouping happened a lot and was less of a fuss than grouping in other MMO's, there was a hell of a lot of times that I casually grouped up, and that there was no talk at all, people left and joined, as much of strangers to eachother as they were before. It certainly didn't resemble the group bonding that happened in the early MMO's like EQ or DAoC.
Heck, even the grouping on the classic EQ servers that were started last year and a few years back didn't resemble the group bonding that happened in EQ a decade ago, and the people joining those EQ progression servers were EQ enthusiasts.
Which makes me somewhat sceptic about it: sure, casual grouping in GW2 will be fun too, but will it really be the savior of community on servers that some think it'll be, or will it be like I csaw happen in Rift?
To me, it looks like the MMORPG community has changed from what it was, and that's the main problem these days: maybe it was because everyone was new to MMORPG's and more openminded and accepting towards things, or maybe the demography of MMO gamers of those early years is different from the current MMO demography, more roleplay and RPG enthusiasts and people who were more flexible in many ways, or MMO gamers having become jaded where before in the beginning they were fresh and eager to play in an MMORPG.
I don't know what the reason exactly is; but I do know that MMO gamers back then managed to cope with a lot more stuff and still have fun than now, where as now the majority of MMO gamers have less tolerance, patience and flexibility to handle those.
Things that MMO gamers dealt with in early MMO's - forced grouping, XP death penalty, item loss - would have the current average MMO gamer running for the hills screaming 'fire'.
So, will casual grouping like in GW2 be the savior for server community? I sure hope so, but how MMO community is these days, I'm kinda sceptic about it. I know I'll think thrice before I pick my definitive server.
edit: a picture that I think describes very well this difference between MMO gamers back then and now is this one