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?