“Hey buddy,” the harsh voice calls from across the forum. “If you’re just going to solo in a MMO, why are you playing these games in the first place?”
That right there is the voice of the old school, the folks who were either weened on grouping in elder MMOs or who see the increasing solo-ability of MMOs an affront to their utter Hardcore Nature ™. We’ve heard it a lot. We continue to hear it. Yet it’s becoming an obsolete attack.
Ever since World of Warcraft — and even before, to a degree — gamers who desired to level by playing completely solo have been catered to in a way that this genre hadn’t experienced. Many classes in MMOs these days are even designed to be more “solo-friendly”, such as pet classes and self-healing classes. Despite the conventional wisdom back five or six years ago, that grouping was THE reason and way to play a MMO, by opening up to more casual, solo players, the field has exploded.
Here’s the thing a lot of people miss when it comes to this argument: just because you prefer to solo doesn’t mean that you want to be alone. These aren’t exclusive needs, especially in a MMO. And as we’ve been discovering in online games, there are many mentalities and mindsets when it comes to how people play the game (and there is no one “right” way to do it).
Reasons for Wanting to Solo in a MMO:
- Complete convenience of time — you’re never waiting on anyone else, you set your agenda, and you have complete flexibility as to your journey
- Grouping just is not for you — raiding, instances, dungeons, group quests… for whatever reasons, it’s just not an enjoyable way to play the game, and you see grouping as a choice, not a mandatory duty
- You’re unable to commit to a group due to real life constraints — limited time to play, family needs, etc.
- Gamers, especially in MMOs, are aging, and due to that we’re not as prone to put up with unfriendly, rigid MMO structures; instead, we want more flexibility and choice.
Reasons Why Soloers Prefer to Play MMOs Even So:
- You desire social connection, just not in grouping — soloers are often seen in guilds because they do love talking with folks and feeling as if they’re not adventuring in a vacuum. Or even seeing general chat scroll by as you’re down in a murky cave.
- You like the metagame competition — knowing that there are other players out there leveling against you, competing in the auction house, setting standards that you want to try to reach and exceed.
- You appreciate the support network that other players can provide.
- Unlike single player games, online games have a longer shelf life, are given more expansion treatments, and allow you to grow and maintain a persistent character.
- MMOs offer far more bang for your buck in terms of Time Played to Money Spent than most forms of entertainment, including single player titles.