Friday, March 27, 2015

What Warlords Did to Guilds

8/10H thanks to random pugs and lots of perseverance
My guild has been through a lot since Warlords came out, but after finally being able to relax for a minute, I realized that it's not just my guild that's suffering - Warlords' new raid system set up has had a widespread, far reaching effect on the vast majority of guilds.

As we know, Warlords removed 10 and 25 mans as a thing and replaced all difficulties with flexible roster numbers, except for mythic, which is exclusively 20 - a number Blizzard probably looked at as a 'happy medium', and a solution to the 10 vs. 25 drama.

The problem now is that there's a large number of small guilds that need to recruit for 20 man rosters and not enough potential recruits to go around. Every 10 man guild from Mists is looking to bring on 10 or more new people just to reach mythic content, but there are nowhere near that many recruits looking to join new guilds. It's not like 25 man guilds had to shed any of their members - those extra five people simply had to compete for their spots and the losers likely stayed in their guilds to warm the benches. The result of the 20 man "happy medium" was that 10 man guilds were expected to scrounge for a minimum of 10 more people, while 25 man guilds had to do nothing.

written out it's something like this

Raiders looking to join guilds only appear due to limited numbers of reasons - otherwise, they are logically already in a guild, or they are not raiders and not interested. There are some other reasons people may look for new guilds, but the biggest ones are:

  1. They have just come back to the game
  2. They were removed from their guild for underperforming
  3. Their guild dissolved/split up
  4. They are seeking a new guild because their guild is underperforming

This puts the vast majority of guilds in a tough spot. You won't be seeing many good applicants unless they are due to reason number 3 or 4, and reasons 1 and 2 will typically result in sub par applicants. Not many high performers are going to be looking to join your ranks if your guild isn't already in mythic content yet, but because you're stuck in heroic because you don't have the numbers to advance into mythic, you can't afford to accept undergeared or underperforming members just to end up failing once you finally get there.

donalds need not apply

This makes recruitment an "applicants' market" so to speak - guilds everywhere are in desperate need of raiders and they can't afford to be picky or arrogant about it. Things aren't like they used to be, where applicants needed to put everything in to impress the guild they were applying to, and guilds could be nitpicky about it. Every applicant is looked at as someone the guild needs to impress, otherwise they will be uninterested in joining and look toward any of the huge number of other guilds that are trying to recruit. Our guild leader was incredibly miffed when the other officers explained to him awhile back that a tank we were trying to recruit was giving us a trial run. It's never been like this before for raiding guilds - imagine a world where job openings were in such high supply that employers were desperate to impress potential employees. It's a new and uncomfortable situation for long time raiding guilds, and it's widespread.

This whole situation is what made us look toward the merger so favorably - all of our officers had called it "necessary" due to recruitment difficulties. It, unfortunately, didn't work out. Mergers are one of the trickiest and riskiest things to do to try and inflate your roster - and it's looking like one of only a few options for these huge numbers of struggling 10 man guilds to get into mythic content, along with co-op raiding or the dreaded, preferably last resort absorption.

the predatory sponge looking to absorb the weak

Without co-op raiding, mergers, or absorption, the only thing that will fix this problem is, unfortunately, the gradual decay of the majority of small guilds over time as they fail to recruit and progress, followed by their eventual dissolution or absorption into other guilds.

There are other possible outcomes to the situation caused by Warlords' new raiding systems - for example, the decline of organized raiding guilds to the point where, once again, only tiny percentages of the population are actually in them. With guilds dissolving, large numbers of people may instead quit raiding - or the game - entirely, rather than look for a new home.

Maybe this isn't a huge deal - people would still be able to see content in LFR and normal pugs, so it wouldn't be exactly like Vanilla raiding and the fabled 1% of raiders ever seeing Naxxramas. But, even though people are still 'seeing' the content, only a miniscule percentage would be participating in the higher difficulties.

Hypotheses about the effects of the end results could be debated, but it could easily affect the future of raiding and of World of Warcraft entirely, depending on how it all turns out.

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