Can something be essential even if nobody talks about it? Read this article. It makes me feel better about what I do for a living.
Lore in our games is the essential connective tissue that holds the illusion together. It doesn’t -do- anything; it won’t make your character faster, stronger or more efficient. It’s not an item you can get, not a piece of gear you can equip. Won’t help you overcome the challenges of the game unless the game’s challenges are actively designed around it. What it does is to provide a meaning to all that you see in game.
Signs point to yes. Context is vitally important for any experience, and more so with an artificial experience like a game. Verisimilitude comes from inside the game and takes root in your subconscious. Even if you say you don’t read it or you say you don’t need it, lore is the frame for the picture that is the game you’re playing.