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.