Some people want an MMORPG with good group content. Rather fewer want a game where they spend half of their time trying to get a group so that they can do anything. But I would submit that the harder part of a good grouping game is not, here's the content you can do after you have your group. Rather, the harder question is, where does your group come from? That's an issue that I haven't yet seen a game entirely solve, and that's what I'd like to address.
The industry has moved considerably toward solo content as a way to avoid having to get a group. There's nothing wrong with some games being solo games. But there's also a place in the world for group-focused games. Some games end up as basically solo games up to the level cap, then abruptly become grouping games, which is a mess.
Some have tried to push grouping by making it so that you have to have groups to do the content that gives the best gear. Or perhaps instead, you'll level faster and get better gear while grouped. But that does exactly nothing to address the question of where groups come from. A combination of "you must group to play this game" and "you can't get a group" turns into "you can't play this game".
Some people propose making friends and then grouping with your friends. But that has never been a viable option outside of the relative handful of people willing to schedule their lives around a computer game. The problem is that you make friends, but then they're on at different times from you, or want to do different content from you. Often the game won't even let you group with them because of level differences, or at least it's strongly discouraged.
Some games have tried to assist with group formation by having an automatic grouping tool. People want a group for some content, so the game waits until there are enough people who want to group for the content, then throws them together in a group. While perhaps better than spending half an hour trying to get a group, this creates problems of its own.
One is that a lot of games implicitly assume some group composition that doesn't match the player base composition. For example, if a game assumes that 25% of group members are healers, but only 15% of the players are healers, you can get 60% of the players a group with a healer, while the other 40% can't get one as there aren't enough healers to go around. This could result in groups without a healer that have no real hope of completing content. More commonly, you end up with the players who aren't healers spending half of their "grouping" time waiting for a group to form. That's pretty much how it goes in FFXIV for players who are neither healers nor tanks, for example.
Another problem is that different players have wildly different playing styles, sometimes to the extent of being incompatible. Some players want to speed rush through the content as fast as they can, skip everything possible, get the loot, and move on. Others want to have a look around, see what there is to see, clear side stuff, and generally take their time. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with either playing style, but putting some of each in a group together is asking for trouble.
Yet another problem is not having enough players to do given content. Some content becomes unpopular for one reason or another, to the extent that it's very hard to get a group for it at all. If there are two dungeons at a given level, one of which is generally perceived to give twice as good of loot as the other, it can be very hard to get a group for the one that gives less loot. Now, double loot is bad game design, but a 5% difference can cause the same problem. Or even no systematic difference at all, but only a perception of such, as players get better at one dungeon from practice with it.
The reason this is a problem is that, if you can't get a group for half of the group content in a game, you only effectively have half as much content. Farming the same dungeon endlessly is boring, and you need as much content as possible. Adding more content that people ignore is scarcely better than not adding content at all. More commonly, games add new content with better loot than the old to get people to do it, which implicitly deprecates the old content and then you have no more content than before.
If a game is going to make group content into a major game mechanic, it needs to solve these problems. I would go so far as to say that solving the problem of where good groups come from is more important than the actual content that the groups do once formed. Plenty of games have done a decent job of the latter.
(continued on next post)