Tobold had an interesting blog post recently about whether achievers, as a Bartle-coined sub-group of gamers, are the majority of gamers these days and whether this is reflected in the evolution of MMO gaming design. His conclusion is an interesting one:
By turning MMORPGs into games which are nearly exclusively about achievements, and don’t give much room for exploration, killing, and socializing, you end up with people being less motivated to play. Which could explain why people leave new games after such a short time these days.
I really can empathise with this viewpoint as exploration seems to be at a dead-end in MMOs currently given the sheer amount of map information automatically supplied (without even a “fog of war” to make it less obvious) and the heavily-guided nature of questing. Socialising is also in decline as a major feature of this genre it seems given the prevalence for randomised automated grouping or even public grouping that requires no communication at all. This trend, if it is a trend, certainly seems to have been reflected in Guild Wars 2’s design and evolution.
Perhaps upcoming games or expansions might see a partial reversal in this trend though, for instance with Wildstar’s designed-in Bartle-style paths. Also EQ Next, with the layered content and dynamic events may also encourage the exploration and socialising gaming styles again. Even Blizzard have announced as part of the Warlords of Draenor will see PUG grouping (e.g. dungeon or raid finder) downplayed again:
Random matchmaking is going to feel like a last resort. (source MMO-Champion)
I see these as signs of the industry having, hopefully, turned a corner and starting to re-inject some much needed variety in playstyles back into major games.