The changing role of guilds in WoW

Tipa joins the ranks of players who are having buckets of fun with the new WoW random dungeon tool, and she comments that she no longer needs a guild to have fun grouping in WoW. I don’t see this as a sign that guilds will die out in the game or that people will stop playing with their friends. We already know that Cataclysm will bring with it a surge of new guild related content, after all.

But I do think that the success of the new dungeon tool will make people ask themselves what they want out of a guild. Guilds are not actually gatekeepers to 5 man instance runs in WoW, although it can seem like that if you run solo. Still, for those players who felt forced to join a guild because they wanted to have people to run group content with — they’ll be free to leave.

It won’t matter any more if the other people in your guild have a very different playing style. You’ll be easily able to find other people to play the instance game with. I think that in Cataclysm we will see the rise of two different types of guild; the social guild made up of people who have some interests in common, and the hardcore guild of raiders who want to focus on hard mode raiding. The inbetween guilds, the social guilds that feel that they have to act more and more hardcore, the ineffective subhardcore guilds where people only stick around because they need the group access … those will probably dissolve.

I think it will lead to a healthier guild scene in the long run. People who don’t want to be attached to a guild won’t have to do that, they can still get their game in using the dungeon and raid finding tools (anyone not think that Blizzard will expand the raid finding tool across servers?). People who want to be part of a friendly guild but get frustrated at being with less hardcore players will be able to hop into hard mode groups easily and still socialise with their guild friends. People who want the full hardcore experience will still be able to do it, and will be able to pick up random groups for their alts or in off hours easily too.

Unshackling the social side of guilds from the group game may be one of the most long sighted advances any MMO of this generation has accomplished.

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18 thoughts on “The changing role of guilds in WoW

  1. I think Tipa is right in this regard: You no longer join a guild “because they have a healer and guilds are required for doing dungeons”. I see this as a plus. Guilds should be a band of friends, ideally. That is perhaps demanding a bit too much, but the “we need a X” mentality, especially for raids, or “we don’t need a Y, already have too many of them” thinking are things that I really don’t like.

  2. Yeah I agree.

    Playing with people I had nothing in common with except that we both wanted loot from the same raid sucked a lot of the fun out of the game for me.

    I think once again Blizzard has raised the bar and every other game will have to follow them.

    They are doing something else which is clever. By effectively halving the amount of time content takes they are freeing up a lot of time in the lives of dedicated WoW fans. This means that instead of playing WoW 40 hours a week you will be able to get the same done playing 20 hours a week giving you 20 hours a week to do something else. Something like playing one of Blizzard’s upcoming releases.

    I think they are re-engineering WoW to let people schedule another Blizzard game into their lifestyles.

  3. Personally, I am very down on the new LFG tool. As someone who has never been in a guild and has always PUGed everything I believe I am frankly much worse off under the new system.

    Honestly I think there is a starry-eyed rush of enthusiasm from people who PUGged very little in the past. I think that this will fade over time as the extremely serious weaknesses of the tool unfold.

    OTOH I could be completely off base. One thing that has lept out at me from a rather unscientific survey of reactions in the blog world is that European based bloggers seem much more positive about the new tool than most Americans do. I wonder if maybe this is because the WoW game culture is just different in America and there is just so much more fail here.

  4. While I have no opinion on anything related to new WoW mechanics I would like to say, to Defty, that my experience playing on the EU servers of Tabula Rasa was that I’d MUCH rather play with 5 random euros than Americans.

  5. I’m surprised that Keen and Tobold aren’t very upset about the LFG tool. Sure, it lets people group easier, but the groups are one-shot. Guilds are being hurt. The grander social fabric of MMOs is being subverted! No longer do players have to rely on their guilds for instance access. This weakening of the social aspect of MMOs will no stand. Who will be in a guild anymore if everyone could just PUG efectively?! WoW isn’t an MMO anymore, it’s something different where everyone just teleports around to instances with random people instead of forming deep bonds and strong guild-based societies.

    • Joking aside, I’m really quite curious to see where this will lead and whether people will decide en masse that they don’t really like guilds.

      In older MMOs, before raiding really took off, we formed guilds because … well … we wanted to. Not because the gameplay really forced it.

      I read some of the grouping vs soloing posts last week and there was something about it all that bothered me but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. I know now, it was the lack of confidence that some of the pro-grouping guys have in the mass appeal of their gameplay. But I think people do enjoy playing with others, in teams, and forming communities. It’s just often so inconvenient that even people who’d like to be able to do it cannot and that’s where the frustration really is.

      • There’s a schism between “social” guilds and the more hardcore (“raiding”) guilds in most games. It’s a choice between playing with your friends and playing with people who are interested in advancing to the highest levels in the game; I always thought this choice sucked.

        I thought the best way to handle this seemed obvious: Let characters belong to more than one guild. Have two different groups of friends who have guilds in the game and want to raid? If you can just join all three guilds, not a problem. Of course, there are some potential support issues: people who join too many guilds then get overwhelmed, or guilds that have strict requirements that you can only belong to them and no other guilds, etc. But, the requirement to only belong to one guild always seemed artificial to me, a holdover from tradition from previous games.

        Spinks wrote:
        …it was the lack of confidence that some of the pro-grouping guys have in the mass appeal of their gameplay.

        Part of the problem is that grouping has gotten a bad name for several years now. Admitting you like grouping is kind of like admitting that you believe in global warming to a group of political conservatives. I don’t think it’s so much confidence as poor PR trying to convince people that it’s really not all that bad. After half a decade of soloers first laughing about how stupid groupers are and then screaming bloody murder every time someone suggests that grouping might not be the worst thing possible, there are a lot of dispirited people who just prefer playing with others in a game.

      • In FFXI you can belong to as many linkshells as you like. You just equip a different one. The only problem is that. You can’t listen to them together at the same time. If they fixed that allowing multiple pearls equipped, you could very well get your multi-guild system.

        I think spinks is right. Grouping is just too inconvienent now. What worked in the earlier days with a small, homogenous community with a lot of disposable time simply can’t on a more diverse, mass market one.

  6. I think deep bonds and strong guild-based societies were always the exception rather than the rule in WoW.

    As Spinks says those aspects have depended upon gameplay that doesn’t appeal to many of the players. Organising others, herding cats, handling guild drama.

    What I think we will see is not that people will decide en masse that they don’t really like guilds but that people will decide en masse that they don’t really like LEADING guilds.

    The old consumer producer paradigm I blogged about a few months ago.

  7. I think big guild will still be needed for progression and weekly random raids, but smaller friend guilds will have a chance to survive. I think the new system will make the game easier to get bored. And where does Cataclysm fit in all this gear progression? The game is getting too easy and people are going to get bored faster. Cataclysm will be the drop off if subscriptions about 3 months after.

    They are walking fine line of ease and bordom

    • There will be plenty of non-easy content come Jan-March, when we get the rest of ICC and hard mode ICC. If Christmas wasn’t “in the way”, we’d be seeing that stuff even sooner. And I don’t think anyone outside of Ensidia-level guilds will have hard-mode Arthas down within the first few weeks, so it’ll be enough content for most people to last until Cataclysm.

  8. I have never been a real fan of guilds. It always involves way too many politics, and sucking up to the guild leader, and officers.

    I have to do enough of that in my real life job, and I shouldn’t have to do it while playing a game.

    It never fails that guilds most of the time aren’t flexible. You are either a pvp guild, pve guild, hardcore, casual, etc. You can never do some of each.

    I like the idea that it is going to change the way guilds operate. It was almost to the point of forced guilding to accomplish anything, and now everyone can.

  9. Whenever I see a person without a guild, my first reaction is: “What’s wrong with him? Is he such a dick that no one is willing to have him in his guild?”

    I think a guild tag will still be helpful because it gives the impression that other people think that this person is at least tolerable.

    Plus, it protects you from the “would you like to join my guild?” whispers. :)

  10. Pingback: PUGging Away « Joel's Scattered Thoughts

  11. 3.3 seems to have strengthened our guild to be honest – the ease that emblems of triumph can be collected has meant that many 80s have become better geared so we’ve been able to do say ToC10 as a guild, instead of having to pug. FYI, we’re a social guild that occasionally raids, usually once a week. Seems to suit our members.

    I’ve had some fun pugs since 3.3, but some haven’t been so fun, eg rudeness, namecalling, spamming of Recount and players not knowing how to play their class. And why are pug tanks always in a rush? “I only got 15 mins then got to eat” they say, so they rush, they pull too many mobs and the healer still hasn’t had the MB he asked for after the last fight, we wipe. Yes, even in Utgarde Keep…

    Guild random runs are best – fun, quick and no hassle!

    • Two reasons.

      a) If you sign up 15 minutes before lunch, a tank will actually get a group. DD (and Heal) probably not. At least not in my pool.

      b) As DD you can improve and do more DPS. Heal can improve and get a better mana reg (not needing mana breaks). The only way a tank can improve is by making the run faster.

  12. I have been using LFG nonstop, but the one time I used it with 3 guildies and a pug tank it was successful but… not as successful or fun as some of my pure pugs. I guess that just speaks volumes about my guild. :P I hope that I’m in the minority there. I would hope that most people are guilded with people they prefer to play with.

    By the way, I hear that you can form a full group of 5 guildies and still use random LFG for instant teleportation and bonus badges. FTW!

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