Now, I'm personally happily retired from all forms of online gaming at the moment, but I can only the imagine the case now, that if I was a fresh faced new starter on WoW, I would in all likelihood level solo to the level cap, grind the group finder tool to get a decent set of starter gear, then hit a brick wall because I know essentially nobody on the server. I know this to be true to some degree because I tried an experiment a couple years ago, creating an alt on a a well-populated Oceanic timezone server, and did just that. Social butterflies may find different of course, but I'd bet that a decent sized proportion of current players are having an experience like that, and thus don't have terribly much incentive to stick around.
Eh, I dont know about that. While I agree that there is much less "community" and you do run into a huge pile of tards in LFG I think LFG/LFR is an adequate tool to prevent people from hitting that wall. I mean, I dont have to be your buddy to down bosses. Although I do wish raid finder didnt stick you in those lower difficulty raids. If SWTOR had this tool from the beginning I would probably still be playing.
LFR obviously wasn't around back when I did the experiment I described, but I don't see it doing anything at all socially - it merely advances the effectively solo play experience one more step before encountering the same wall. By that note though I'll have to admit my experience with LFR is minimal - I did it for the first two to three weeks of its release but left it because it was neither fun (partly because of the anonymous nature of LFR and partly because Dragon Soul is a terribly designed raid) nor necessary to fuel normal (and subsequently heroic) raid progression. I did not use the tool at all for my last three or so months of WoW.
Admittedly my last month was literally just logging on for a raid twice a week, bang my head against questionably designed hardmode bosses and logging out straight after, and doing absolutely nothing else. Was good to get heroic Spine on literally the last day of my subscription though.
I just popped in to take a look around and noticed this. I haven't played World of Warcraft for about a year now, but LFG was in place for some months before I closed my account. I don't think it had much of an impact one way or the other in terms of group cohesion for most folks. The reality is, if you want to stay in the running for current end game raiding, you had to grind out more dailies at the start of each expansion than most guilds could provide in members. Hell, half the time you were LFG with other guildies. As a healer, I was in demand with guildies, so that might have impacted how I experienced it, but it didn't make any difference, you had to grind grind grind anyhow and lfg just made it that much easier.
The detrimental effects of LFG have been on the servers themselves. Instead of having to have a list of people you knew were fairly good at the game to run through a dungeon that was assigned by a quest giver... you just sat there and waited. Social interactions on the servers slowed to a crawl and slowly became a troll fest because there was no reason to maintain a "reputation" within the servers community beyond those you played with directly, This allowed the community to become more toxic (while before, it was kept in check by the need of a player to find and work with a team of people for their dungeons).
At this point, servers are little more than "sit around and grind mob" zones, while LFG and LFR make everything homogenous and without consequence. You were a **** to another player? Oh well, there's nearly a million people on this battlegroup, no reason you will ever see him again! Although most groups will end up just being five people silently zooming through an instance, only stopping to yell because the tank pulled to much, or the dps didn't realize the rest of the group was 800 yds the other way.