DCUO Removes Holy Trinity

Interesting news out of DCUO this week - the next patch will add a set of buffs to the game's group-finder that removes the need for tanks, healers, and controllers in the game's four-man content.  Tankless groups will take less damage, healer-less groups will gain passive health regen, and controller-less groups will regain power.  If there was any question about which role is not scarce in-game, there is no mention of a damage buff for groups with no DPS. 

My post title may be a bit misleading.  For the moment, SOE plans to continue to require group roles in the game's eight-man raid content.  They've even taken a page from Blizzard's book, with a new "novice" difficulty setting for raids.  I can't imagine that this requirement will stand in the long run. 

The team is making this move because we're looking at a playerbase that solo DPS'es their way to the level cap, double-DPS'es their way though the endgame duo content, and will now quadruple-zerg their way through the group content, spending their hundreds of emblems on DPS gear that cannot be used to heal, tank, or control.  Nothing in MMO history suggests that the easier raids will be any more successful in converting solo players to group roles.  If anything, the system raises the bar for new players who WANT to try the roles, by moving the playerbase further down the gear grind and skill curve - I can definitely imagine being told to switch to DPS mode because the group will move faster with higher DPS and automated healing. 

Before dismissing this move as desperation by an MMO that was stuck with weird console demographics, consider the context.  NPC companions are spreading across the genre, raising thorny issues about how to avoid having them become more attractive than a live player.  So is scaling content like public quests, rifts, and whatever Blizzard is calling their new feature, designed around the reality that players are unwilling to tank and heal in sufficient numbers to sustain the old school holy trinity.  Most games are building in multiple roles to most or all of their classes (before shooting themselves in the foot by requiring double the gear grind to support these roles) but DPS queues remain high. 

If Blizzard announced that this feature was in for Pandaria's launch, the only shock would be that they acted so quickly.  Perhaps modern MMO's have too much invested in the old model to change now, but at this point I'd be very surprised if the traditional holy trinity is implemented in Titan. 

If this is the deathknell of the holy trinity model of MMO's, it's vaguely ironic to have the company that made Everquest wielding the fatal dagger.