The EVE crowd are not your typical MMO crowd though. They would be closer to the competitive multiplayer crowd, except that they generally have more patience.
For a game like the original EQ, there were a number of different factors that contributed to what made it so appealing. There was nothing else like it at the time is the first thing.
The difficulty and setup of the game game world meant that soloing was extremely unprofitable. It didn't just encourage group play, it demanded it.
At the time, social networking was nowhere near as popular as it is today (if you could even say it existed apart from MSN Messenger and ICQ in the mainstream). EQ combined social networking with a vast open world and stuff for you to do with the people you were chatting to.
Finally, the spontaneous and unforseen situations which could happen in that kind of environment are impossible to create in today's MMOs, precisely because they are all so much about hand-holding and theme parking. Anyone who remembers the infamous trains in the Estate of Unrest would get what I'm talking about.
The modern MMO is so much about tightly controlling the player experience, that there is no way to revisit those days.
As a consequence, even the new ones which come out and claim to be about recapturing that same magic, can't do it. It wasn't just a matter of harsh gameplay that demanded grouping, it was about the unfettered nature of the game world and how that allowed so many awesome moments to happen naturally.