I've been one to defend changes to game meant to help players with less time to play (often labeled 'casuals'). I think this topic has probably been belabored enough already, but I've come to realize that some of the tools meant to easily bring players together have actually had the opposite effect (LFD, LFR, etc.. you know what I mean).
This doesn't seem to be limited to WoW, however. I've found new MMOs are opting for queue-based instanced content, less grinding, etc. There's a widespread movement to make it easier for the player to group with random players on a whim and at the touch of a button, while simultaneously reducing the need to form a collective and static group to overcome challenges.
However, I think for an MMO to work, the main objectives need to require organized group play. It's that requirement that encourages players to form relationships online, and then relationships in turn make MMOs great. When the games become more and more oriented toward helping the solo player see all content, that when the traditional pillar of what make MMOs awesome just crumble.
I feel kind of disillusioned lately. I'm a rather shy person IRL, not overly so, but I become easily nervous meeting new people, etc. I think that's what made MMOs more attractive to me many years ago; it was a way for me to interact with people without the anxiety. I started with FFXI and then moved to WoW, and had a lot of fun with both. I was in many guilds and had many great accomplishments.
FFXI had a lot of the traditional style (and Asian-oriented) MMO systems that many people today do not like:
---Grinding to level, you just killed the same things over and over to get XP for hours
---No/little queue-based content, you had to find a group and often times it was hard
In some ways, WoW was the same around TBC. Leveling was more solo oriented than FFXI, which at the time I thought was great, but you still needed to form groups with people on your own for almost all other content, no queuing (except for BGs). I did all of this and yes, I was a casual player.
I've come to desire that ol' FFXI grinding-in-a-group again. In some ways it does suck, but it really helped make the game an MMO for me. Often you were stuck with same people for hours, grouped with them again later, joined their LS (guild), etc. The structure of the game incentivized, rewarded, and yes - required, grouping and long-term relationships.
--------Anyway, back to to the present:
Sadly enough, all my friends (either IRL or in-game friends that I had a long relationship with) are no longer playing MMOs. The guild I was in recently fell apart, and instead of looking for a new one, I've just been playing the game solo with almost no one online ever anymore in the guild. If I do join another guild, it won't be to complete game content, because that isn't needed. I think seeing raid content in LFR is enough and kind of spoils doing it on other modes, so the incentive for me to join organized raiding is gone.
I suppose I'm longing for that old MMO-feeling. It's probably just nostalgia, but I can say truthfully that I've never felt so alone in and MMO while simultaneously having little desire to group up with other people. Maybe it's just MMO burnout because I've played them for so many years now (going on 10), but I like to think that it's because of these trends in the MMO genre that I mentioned.
TLDR: The MMO genre seems to be moving towards a system that rewards solo-play via queued/instanced content that instantly groups players with random others. I think this is contrary to the nature of the 'MMO' - massively multiplayer.
If you agree with me, why do you think MMOs are moving in this direction? Why can't they be like they used to be just 4, 5, 6 years ago (when many were still incredibly successful)?