The LFG debate and the immersion myth

Over the past week, one of the most fascinating debates I’ve seen raging is partly due to a comment made by BioWare’s Stephen Reid during our podcast Q&A last Saturday. It was a response to a question by our own Simon asking about plans for a Looking for Group (LFG) tool in SWTOR to make it easier to find groups for Flashpoints.

Stephen’s response (summarised here) was a more than reasonable statement that BioWare are looking at a cross-server LFG tool for Flashpoints. When he said it, my first reaction was “Ok cool, that’ll actually mean I get some Flashpoints played through”.

It seems that a cohort of SWTOR players vehemently disagree with an LFG tool however. The common theme from those opposed seems to be that it decreases the social aspect of the game because you don’t need to make the effort to find groups of people to play with. A tiny part of me sees their point, but not enough to give that view much credence. Like most people I don’t get enough time to play as much SWTOR as I’d like. So for me, an LFG tool is a godsend as it allows me to maximise my playing time.

As I’ve droned on about a few times, I’ve been a WoW player for a bunch of years and I’ve witnessed the transition there, from no LFG tool to it being in place. Unlike some of the current naysayers claiming it killed WoW, I witnessed nothing of the sort. Sure, your chance of ending up in a disastrous group may increase, but I actually found I was more likely to get a heroic dungeon completed in WoW in an LFG group than in my guild or trawling trade chat.

One final point: I totally don’t buy the immersion argument against LFG. Given that the Flash Points have an established storyline, how does the group formation being automatically chosen have any impact on the immersion? You’re already needing to suspend disbelief for the storyline – whether it’s a person you personally know or a stranger fighting next to you, you need to be involved with the story primarily. There’s also another bloody obvious point: you can still put together your own groups either within a guild or with friends. Yes, it may be harder with more people happy to have LFG do it for them, but then that just means your group will be even more special when you finally get them on board (insert rolling of eyes here).

So over to you: are you looking forward to an LFG tool being implemented in SWTOR? If not, why not?


  1. After leveling to 50 and only ever running hammer station cause there was no one at Aussie time or at my level, im looking forward to it. Although having our own servers should fix that for a little bit.

  2. I believe a “Flashpoint Finder” is essential. While I’m running hard modes with my guildmates, it’s not often that we have enough with the correct set of roles on at the same time, who can commit the hour or so that flashpoints seem to need. The FF would allow us to PUG a spot easily, or individually PUG.

    Assuming the FF supports direct teleport to the flashpoint’s instance/phase, it would allow us to hang out wherever we like, rather than being effectively trapped on the Fleet.

    This would be even more useful for leveling, if you could queue for a flashpoint while questing, as you can in WoW.

    In terms of maintaining a community, if cross-server queuing was added (and I realise they’re philosophically opposed to the concept) the most useful feature they could add to a Flashpoint Finder would be an option to limit the group to your own server. If you chose that option, your wait would probably be longer, but that’s the price to pay versus being grouped with players from possibly other servers.

  3. Michael Golden78 says

    Just because there’s a LFG tool implemented doesn’t mean you have to use it. If you really think it will affect your immersion experience significantly then you can choose not to use it and spam general chat to look for your tank or healer.

  4. Agree. LFG function is one of the best ways for casual players to get their money’s worth out of the game. I played WOW from 04 to 10, I met people at the same rate with or with out the LFG function – but I got to experience a lot more content regularly when it was there. I don’t buy the community thing – I’ve got a large group of friends now without having to go looking for “serious connection” in an online game.

  5. I would love there to be a LFG tool, but I intensely dislike the idea of it being cross-server. It removes accountability – prior to the tool becoming available on WoW you could have a list of people who you would just not reinvite to groups, and it meant something. And when you did have to go to an instance with noobs, at least you felt like you were developing the community on your own server by helping them learn.

  6. I totally love LFG Tools, always have and those that don’t like it don’t have to use it.  Its an OPTIONAL Tool, they can still hit the channel if they want.

  7.  Well, the debate is raised. There will be looking to do each when playing and that’s part of everyone’s taste.

  8. To my mind the community piece is broader and more important than expressed by the OP. Without a cross server LFG individuals need to rely on their personal reputation on a server to get access to the content. If they are rude or act inappropriately e.g. needing when greed was the fair button to press then they loose reputation with the others they are running with.
    The moment that this kind of behaviour has no consequences it starts a downward spiral too many players seem to begin to forget that there are people behind the toons they are playing with. In my experience this has lead to a serious erosion in general behaviour whilst grouping. This is the thin end of the wedge, once the mind sifts away from having to be seen as a “person of good standing” then many other community eroding choices seem fair game, ninja’s increase, name calling increases, in world assistance to a randoms decreases etc etc.
    I support a LFG tool but please keep it to your server only .

  9. Interestingly I asked in Guild last night who had ran all of the flash points in a level appropriate group. only to be met with a resounding silence. Most had done the first one and a few had had run throught of the others but while leveling FP’s where just to hard to get running. Most of my guild is made up of older fully employed people who are time starved.
    So I would ask a question of the people who do not want a LFG how do us time poor players get to see all of the content? what is the answer? should this content only be avalable to those that are able to sit on for hours?

  10. Cross-server? Uhhh… isn’t that a complete reversal on their previous position? I’m pretty sure they stated that Warzones would not queue across servers in order to help build strong server communities. 
    So how does that work? How can they stand on one side of the fence for Warzones, while also standing on the opposite side of the fence for Flashpoints? Sounds like Bioware is going to end up with mighty sore legs to me. 

  11. SoundsSweet says

    If people would use the looking for group finder that would be fantastic im getting sick and tired on my server LFG this and that yada yada yada 23 times in 10 minutes and when you run past them they havnt got their LFG sign up so that says your looking for group Drrrrr Cross server  Realy NO NO NO NO NO just make people use the darn LFG button and group up like that. I really did not like cross realm on another mmo too much abuse or people thinking there the best thing since sliced bread and of course the ninjas who can forget them so much gear lost to clothy needing on epic plate armor becausse it was BOE ahhhhh AH special need poor tank misses out again and no fun at all the runs was run run run kill kill kill and who cares if the heals is oom just kick and get another healer who can if not kick them out and get another one OMG NOOOOO
    I still have nighmares about that 🙁    please own server only just make LFG manditory if you havnt already got full group, instead of people spamming the chat for 10 minutes.

  12. As long as they dont make it cross-server I dont mind. Its the same with WZs, Id prefer for there to be no cross-server join ups to.

    I was there in WoW when there was no lfg or multi-bg queueing (sp?) and it was a pain. But cross-server signups killed server communities.

  13. Athon Wilden says

    I rather be looking for people already looking for the same quest without populating the general chat with LFG messages, and it has nothing to do with immersion for me.
    If it is true that we end up playing with disastrous group (that’s part of the social life too), it’s also true we can leave and find a better group more easily. I totally agree with the tool.

  14. Bioware have stated that they will introduce changes to the LFG interface to make it easier to find groups. I don’t think that the WoW LFD tool got it right. There was no option to mark a player so that you never had to group from them, the cross-server player behaviour negated the quicker queue times. I’m happy to wait and see what Bioware come up with, but honestly it has to be better than WoW’s option and needs to come out after they change loot rules so that only the correct AC can roll need.