Seems your friends were a bunch of loot whores, at least for me and my friends it was not a gear issue, we were having fun and enjoyed ourselves, rather than chasing gear or cry over how hard it was to obtain it. Gear upgrade was just a bonus along the way, a small reward, but in the end what makes the game good that you are having fun with your friends rather than have a fully pimped character standing all along in front of AH for display.
I'm just going to start rating down all of your snide, condescending posts every time I see them. I don't mind disagreement, but when there's always a shot to be made you're not contributing anything useful...you're just being a twerp.
It's one thing if a player subjects themselves to a monumental grind because it's what they want to do. It's another thing if they subject themselves to it because they feel that the community requires it of them. I can remember a good friend of mine setting his alarm to get up at 4am so that he could camp a Fafhogg timer. I can remember another friend farming gil non-stop for over a month because he loved the game, he loved his job, but he couldn't get through an xp party without someone giving him grief and cutting him down because he didn't have a hauby.
I still remember the extended bout of LS drama that boiled up over a loot ***** and a Charybdis spawn and the lengths people would go to to justify why being a jerk about loot was ok when in reality it was just desperation at finally seeing a coveted piece of loot make its way into the quartermaster window. I've seen loot whoring aplenty throughout all of the MMOs I've played, but that took the cake.
It wasn't just "my friends" that felt compelled to undertake what they felt were unenjoyable grinds in order to meet community demands to gear a mid-high level toon and when a game's itemization and reward system create that kind of a scenario, you're begging for a heavy RMT presence.