Is WoD a guild killer?

WoD has been bad for many parts of the game — professions, alts, end-game content. Now I think guilds need to be added to this list. They are another piece of WoD collateral damage.

In my social guild on any given non-raid night, there are usually at most 2-3 people logged in, out of a membership of about 65 (mains). A couple of others log in quickly just to cycle through their alts for mission management, then disappear. No one seems to be doing any kind of group activity, there is no attempt to put together ad hoc guild groups to join a world boss group, run instances, hunt rares, or even do garrison invasions. Even guild chat is sparse, hours can go by with no green chatter seen.

This is the activity level you normally see at the end of an expansion, when people are bored and maybe it happens also to be summertime so there is a lot of other things to do. This is not the level of activity you should expect to see for a new expansion, which just had a major patch, in the winter.

My raiding guild, too, has experienced a drop off in nightly activity, but not to the same degree. It is a similar size guild as my social one, but usually has 8-10 people logged on, there is a fair amount of guild chatter, and people will sometimes announce they are in a world boss group with spaces for more, or that they are going to run some instances on an alt and a guild group would be good. One reason this is different from my social guild may be that people are still chasing gear on their alts as well as on their mains, so as to maintain the raid team viability and flexibility.

You may not be seeing the same things in your guild. But I bet you are, to some extent. What is it about this expansion that is so bad for guilds? Here are some of the reasons I can think of:

  • Garrisons. I am not going to rehash all the things wrong with this concept, just point out a couple of things relevant to guilds. First, they are a time sink, taking away time that might otherwise be spent chasing achievements or running instances for guild gold and guild fun. Second, they promote an introverted mindset — daily garrison chores are a focused individual activity, not a social one. Third, Blizz’s attempts to force garrison-centered social activity have not worked. As The Grumpy Elf pointed out a couple of days ago, the rewards from garrison invasions are too trivial to justify the time spent on them. And other socially centered mechanics — such as having to visit someone else’s garrison to grab a daily or to use a profession hut — are nothing more than an administrative annoyance, they do not promote guild interaction in any meaningful way.
  • Guild level perks. In a grand democratic (small “d”) gesture of making everyone equal, Blizz eliminated guild levels in WoD, and any perks formerly reserved for higher level guilds were automatically granted to every guild. I have no idea what the logic was behind this, it is like saying it’s not fair that players reaching level 100 have more talents and gear options so we are going to eliminate player leveling and give everyone those level perks. There are still guild achievements, but taking away leveling options means there is one less shared goal a guild can be working towards.
  • End game content. There really is no reason to group up to do things because, well, there is not much to do. Certainly not much that is worth the effort of getting a group together. I remember, even at the end of Mists, there would frequently be guild groups to hunt rares, do “turtle farming” for valor or “cow killing” for rep on Timeless Isle, run some quick scenarios (again for valor). It’s a shame that even the sparse end game content we have in WoD gives such crappy rewards that it is just not worth the time and effort to group up to do it.
  • Looking for Group. Don’t get me wrong, overall I think this is a nice feature for the game. But there is no denying that it can be an anti-guild incentive for some players, particularly those who identify themselves as casual players — the type that are typically drawn to social guilds. It allows you to raid or run instances/world bosses/etc. on your own schedule, without waiting for peak participation time in a guild. And if your guild’s participation rates are dwindling, more people will turn to LFG.

Fewer people active in a guild usually means the reasons you joined in the first place are disappearing. It doesn’t matter why there is less activity, the end result is the same: your guild ceases to be a central feature of your game play. You can use LFG for casual grouping when you have the time, and there is always battle.net for social conversation with friends (and now presumably in-game Twitter, though I have not tried it). For people who enjoy raiding, there are still huge advantages to being in a raiding guild, but for others maybe not so much.

Sadly, I suspect my social guild is at the end of its virtual life, and it likely will soon perish no matter what incentives or disincentives Blizz gives for continuing. But what WoD has done to struggling guilds — especially social guilds — is pretty much pull the plug on their life support, and it has put  healthier guilds into intensive care.

About Fiannor
I have a day job but escape by playing WoW. I love playing a hunter, and my Lake Wobegonian goal is to become "above average" at it.

2 Responses to Is WoD a guild killer?

  1. I totally agree — we are more isolated in our game play than ever before.
    The thing that astonishes me is that in the pre-mades that I don’t see raids running at max capacity. Our guild, when flex came out in MoP would run with huge numbers (two of our tanks and three of our healers as the foundation) and we attracted so many people who wanted to do this all of the time — they joined our guild.
    This expansion, our raid team doesn’t want to add any pugs at all (if that’s what you call the people, no offense). We’d rather go with ten of our guildies and slog along than amp it up. Is that because of scaling?

    • Fiannor says:

      I don’t know how scaling works, at least not in any detailed fashion. I suspect it varies due to individual boss mechanics, not necessarily by design but more because it is difficult to anticipate the results of applying a scaling algorithm to diverse mechanics. Hence, many of the boss hot fixes we see. There are some anecdotal observations that larger — but not max — groups make it easier to down a boss. Part of that is probably because it’s easier to recover from mistakes — with only 10, one person screwing up can pretty easily cause a wipe, but with 16 there is some redundancy built in.

      It’s an interesting question on whether to pug or not. In my social guild we run with the same philosophy as you do — guildies only, even if that means it is a bare bones team or we have to cancel because there are not enough people. We are still only 5/7 on normal HM on this team. On the other hand, in my raiding guild the Raid Leader has no qualms about reaching out in Group Finder to fill critical slots on any given night, to bring the group size to somewhere around 14. He is judicious about who he selects, keeps the numbers such that it is still a guild group for achievement purposes, and will expeditiously but politely replace non-performers. On this team, we were 7/7 on normal HM weeks ago and are currently 5/7 on Heroic, along with progressing through BRF.

      The team in my raiding guild is quite a bit better than the one in my social guild, and I don’t want to imply the reason that team has progressed further is due to the willingness to pug. But it is interesting to note that a team that has decent progression is willing to do so.