Tobold’s post quite nicely explained why our little group is looking outside of WoW for group fun. Frankly, there is nothing in the world that is particularly fun for a group to do. Even if the mobs weren’t trivial, XP is diluted in a group (versus bolstered in other games) and if you want to enjoy the actual quest content, you can’t increase your level of challenge by playing in red zones since you can’t get the quests!
Several of the commenters somewhat snarkily chided that somehow that viewpoint is tainted if one of your reasons for saying WoW no longer lets people play together is “lower efficiency.” What is lost in the discussion is what efficiency really means.
On its face, most people assume that “efficiency” means simply the shortest path (time-wise) to the level cap. Personally, I think that’s too narrow. In my mind, that’s only looking at one narrow aspect of the entire picture.
A better measure is the amount of reward you receive from participating in group activity– whether that is gold, xp, loot or unquantifiable fun– in a given play session. The unstated denominator in all of these things is time. The fun quotient.
When you add time or proportionately reduce your numerator, the fun quotient decreases and the overall entertainment experience is diminished. Its in that sense that it becomes “inefficient.” Its suboptimal entertainment measured against the potential you know is there. Its worse in a game where alt-itis is rampant since its likely that you may have experienced the content more than one time on different characters.
Its gets more complicated when you start adding in the impact of “group generated” rewards– the fun stuff that people bring to the mix extrinsic to the game itself– conversation, jokes, humorous mistakes and yes, the sense of a shared experience that is unique to that group. Even if its a well known encounter or challenge, your group attempt(s), successful or otherwise, are still unique. These group benefits (and detriments) can add to and substract from the numerator in the fun quotient.
How we perceive the value of rewards is measured against what we had to invest to get them– time, mostly. Even the other things we “invest” in them are still just proxies for time (even consumable items from a cash shop, the cash is still a proxy for RL time). In our MMOs the progression element (whether level, gear or otherwise) is almost universally the main reason we play.
We ding therefore we are. Anything that slows down the ding (in the broadest sense) without adding something else to the mix (recognizing that is entirely subjective) frankly makes the process less fun than it could be alone and hence less efficient from a “fun” perspective. A lower fun quotient than soloing.
WoW grouping for open world content suffers from all of these ills. XP is diluted, so time to ding is extended. The challenge of fights is completely trivialized since there really is no open world group content. Collection quests in a group multiply the time it takes to complete them. Finally, mobs may be killed so quickly that a group experiences increased downtime waiting for them to respawn and all of these aspects feedback on themselves as well further exacerbating the problem.
At some point, the additional time to gain meaningful progression or the diminution of the challenge in gameplay simply becomes much less fun per session in a group. Lower efficiency in the broadest sense, means less fun. Azeroth in a group just isn’t that much any more.
At this point in WoW’s evolution, I often wonder why it isn’t a local client or individually instanced world with a global chat server and matchmaking lobby much more like Guildwars or DDO.