Posted Sat, Feb 08, 2014 by Mem
Guilds in World of Warcraft have been an essential part of the game since day one. Player strove to join the very best guild, for their designated play style,- in the hopes to find their “home”. Being guildless was almost considered to anathema to most players. Sure, some struck it out on their own, but most players sought the sanctuary of a guild to help them on their struggle through Azeroth.
These days, things are changing. The once mighty guild is no longer so indomitable. In fact, with the way things are going, guilds may become totally obsolete. I've seen guilds that have been going strong for years, shatter and fall apart around me with little to no reason. A big change from the days of yore.
Back in the classic days of World of Warcraft, what some would refer to as the true glory days of the game, guilds were a booming business. To get anywhere in the game you needed to be in the guild, especially if you wanted to take part in any of the end game action. Raid instances required 40 players, so large, swelling guilds were not only necessary, they were the norm.
Even if you didn't want to raid, guilds were still pretty essential. Leveling up wasn't always so easy and even older five mans could prove tricky unless you had a group of seasoned players. Guilds provided players with materials, consumables, and many other things to make a player's life easier. Guilds could also garner social status in game, being part of a successful guild brought admiration from other players.
Of course, the “good old days” of classic WoW are long over and big changes have been rolled in over the years. Each of these changes has had their own consequences, many of them negative, on guilds.
One of the major changes to the game that really started the downhill movement of guilds was Blizzard's attempt to make the game more single-player friendly and thus, easier. In classic WoW, leveling was hard work and it was inevitable that somewhere along the way you were going to need help. You could of course ask random strangers, but a guild could easily answer that call and also follow up by making 5-mans and other content more accessible as well.
These days, almost everything in World
of Warcraft is able to be done by a single player, at least during
the leveling experience. Most hard quests have been wiped out and you
can level so quickly it barely registers as a blip on the radar.
Needing a group or any kind of cooperation anywhere during the
questing experience has almost become a distant memory.
Not to mention the devolving difficulty of 5-mans. What were once mini-challanges that required a competent group, have now become almost laughable affairs. Groups can easily walk through a dungeon with at least one player sitting back and doing absolutely nothing. While some PUGs are still failures, even the most inept group can usually slug their way through recent 5-man dungeons.
With all that being said, making the game more friendly to the more casual and solo player is not the only culprit in the desolation of guilds as we know it, other features added to the game have had their hand in the pot as well.
Things like LFR and cross-realm groups have all helped to move players away from the traditional idea of guilds. With these tools in place, players can easily pick up a group anytime they want and take out a few bosses and collect some loot. Forget logging in for three hours, three nights a week. These options allow players to experience end game with no hassle, no commitment, no strings attached. Something that wasn't possible back in the day when guilds seemingly ruled the world.
Even something as innocent as Real ID has helped to make players less reliant on the guild as a whole. The social aspect of the guild, one of the most important reason players cite for joining, can easily be replaced by adding any friends you want to raids list with their Real ID. Alliance, Horde, Starcraft Diablo? Doesn't matter, you can talk to them anytime they are online.
All the blame can't be laid on the
shoulders of new game features. Some of it has to be held by the
current stagnation of the guild. What real benefit does being in a
guild give a player these days? Why should they join?
Guild perks were a nice addition, but they have since been left by the way-side, forgotten, alone, and nerfed. Any other perks a guild once had have been outsourced to other areas of the game. And the classic guild is left in the dust, waiting for Blizzard to look it's way and make it relevant again.
Now some may call me an alarmist and they might be right. However, I've been playing since the early days of World of Warcraft and I know one thing; the idea of the guild is not what it used to be. Guilds have gone from something that was needed and desired to almost nothing more than a second thought.
As things stand, there is no real draw
for players to be in a guild, when they can reap almost the same
benefits without one. I firmly believe that World of Warcraft is
heading into a new era. A dawning of a time where guilds are and will
quickly become obsolete. Instead players will find themselves easily
able to take on most things solo, while still remaining connected
with friends through whispers. For things that can't be soloed?
Players can easily pick up friends from many different servers,
anytime the mood strikes them. If friends and family aren't available
a PUG will do just fine.
It won't happen quickly, it hasn’t thus far. One by one guilds will topple and fall and slowly they will become a thing of the past. Already, guilds have become unessential to the game experience and most players seem to have barely noticed. I believe when guilds go out it will be as a tiny blip on the radar that barely turns a head.
I'm not saying this is a bad thing and perhaps it is time for guilds to go the way of the dinosaurs. I just can't help feel a little pull of the heartstrings as I imagine the days of raiding in Molten Core with my bustling guild filled with players just as determined to defeated Ragnaros as I was. I mourn the loss of that feeling of the “first” kill as a guild, that feeling of unity and joy at your triumph of something you all worked so hard to defeat.
I can't help but wonder what the future will hold and what, if anything, will take the place of the once mighty guild. Do you think we will see the end of guilds as we know them in the near future of World of Warcraft? Will you be happy or sad to see them go? What, if anything, will take their place? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!