Is grouping necessary?
The weakness of picking on any problem in a game like Eve Online is the fact it’s large and complex. What’s good for one tis inevitably bad for another, and in the end either balance or an acceptance of losing the other is needed.
Let’s take as an example my previous post. It started with some assumptions based on things put out by Eve developers. Specifically, 50% of the people who try Eve leave within the first month. Of the ones who stay 20% (10% of the whole) participate in groups and 80% fly solo. When you get to mid-term retention (say, the six month or one year point) those same devs imply that almost all the group players stay but many if not most of the solo players leave.
I want to point out a number of the assumptions here that need a bit of buttressing. The very first is asking how CCP determined the players were group (instead of solo) players. My guess: membership in a corporation. The alternate method – looking at combat ‘killmail’ – fails to catch the station groups and the non-combat support (logistics/healing ships, for example).
There’s the question in my mind, which could actually increase the ‘need to group’ argument, of how many of the so-called solo players are alternate accounts of people in groups? Anecdotally the majority of players with more than a year of experience have at least one other account.
On the flip side of the issue is the question of what portion of the 50% who quit joined a corporation – a group? It is possible that the need to group is overstated.
One more thing to ask – how many of the solo players really leave after six months to a year? If 40% are solo players and half leave before a year is out, the solo players STILL outnumber the group players 2:1.
I’m not convinced forcing or even highly encouraging grouping is really the key to player retention for Eve Online. I suspect, just based on what’s known at this time, that it’s another case of people focusing on what they think is good without actually considering the whole, or at least the majority.