Despite the fact that I love playing MMOs I will be the first one to admit that I am not an extremely social player. You will not find me approaching random strangers for conversation and I absolutely hate being forced to group up to complete content. Likewise, joining a guild is very low on my list of priorities when I start out a new character. Maybe it’s because I have this preconception that most people become royal jerks when they are safely hidden behind their avatars and, in my defence, I would rather play with people I know than on my own if given the option .
Yet, apart from my personal issues, there is another very important reason why investing time in the social aspect of an MMO does not sit totally right with me and that’s the fact that once I stop paying my monthly subscription I am prohibited from interacting with other players through the in-game chat. I am very conscious that most guilds have their own forums and third party programs such as Skype, Ventrilo and (increasingly) Mumble which allow players to keep in touch with friends and guildies without relying on the game itself. I find the former too impersonal since very few people use forums and message boards while they are playing and only use them to coordinate activities and discuss decisions. On the other hand voice chat is the exact opposite: It feels too personal since you actually have to speak to communicate.
So, am I the only one who thinks that MMOs should allow players, both current and old ones, to access some chat channels, including guild chat, through a separate IM program, even when they are not subscribed anymore?