In the good old days of MMORPGs, the whole atmosphere seemed rather different. Today, there is one big focus emerging, to be the best individual in-game.
Back when MMORPGs became a thing, PvE probably had a higher importance on players’ priority list, and not only PvE, but the idea that you had to achieve something as a team. Guilds were striving to get server first kills, to clear PvE content with massive teams that all had to work together to be glorious. This basic approach, in my opinion, has evidently mutated over time, and the aforementioned priority list has been rearranged.
I blame the rising importance of competitive play, and the constant need to be “famous” in PvP. Yes, we PvP-ed back then as well, and yes it felt good to beat other players, but even in PvP, there was far more team spirit and not just overpowered individuals ganking weaker casuals or massive groups hunting down farming players.
A part of this is probably due to the nature of Asian MMORPGs, like Aion, Black Desert and ArcheAge. MMORPGs such as those have plenty of individual-focused content going on, especially Black Desert. I tend to call Black Desert a single-player MMORPG, which I know does not make much sense, but if you think about it, almost all of the game can be done alone. Then you have Aion, where once again, you can Siege without being in groups, you can PvP alone and pretty much obtain almost BiS PvP gear without doing too much teamwork (especially if you invest into the in-game store).
I also blame Streaming. Streaming often focuses on an individual showing off their personal skills, most of the time in competitive game modes. Streaming is commonly seen by players as means to make money through doing what they love best, gaming. Streaming can encourage players to keep their individual needs and achievements in focus, which means they will be less focused on working in a team.
Collectivistic segments in MMORPGs are harder to find, and even when you participate in team-based PvE activities you will quickly realize that many only came to get loot then get out. I might be the odd one out, but it brings me great joy when my team of players can work together efficiently, take their roles seriously and beat difficult content and consider loot as an extra that comes with it.
Many of you will probably see this differently, but to me, it currently seems like MMORPG developers are now leaning towards personal achievements versus team play. Feel free to express your thoughts in the comments section below, as I would love to hear your thoughts on this.