Guilds, Lockouts, and a Buyers Market
The moment Blizzard announced the changes to raid lockouts, I rejoiced. I cheered. There may even have been some standing up and dancing involved, maybe. You see, I'm a 10-man raider and I am one by choice. The idea that I can raid what I want without feeling pressured into doing 25-mans because of the better loot is a change I fully approve of. It is not, however, a change without consequences or without controversy. This change will impact each and every one of us on an individual level.
The changes to Azeroth because of this may be as significant as the sundering itself, and my thoughts on them continue after the break!
Moving into a new expansion is always a time of upheaval. People move guilds, servers, mains and change roles. I believe that this change is going to have a massive impact on the way guilds approach recruitment and will have a knock on impact on a lot of things including pugging and the general atmosphere of a server. On a very practical level this change halves the amount of potential raiding any one person can do, which is going to reduce the amount of pugs. Less pugs tends to mean less mixing with players beyond your immediate circles.
In contrast to this, though, I also know anecdotally of three or four well established 25-man guilds that are moving down to 10-man—and I have no reason to believe this phenomena is limited to my own experiences. There are lots of reasons why a guild might do this; to consolidate talent or reduce the amount of preparation and administration required, amongst many others—and if this is indeed a wider trend then it presents an interesting situation:
When Cataclysm hits, multiple guilds will consolidate their ranks into a smaller raid group, leaving many other raiders either guildless or raid-less and looking to move on.
With the homogenisation of raid buffs that we experienced in 4.0.1, there is much less of a focus on what you recruit, rather who. Recruit the player, not the class.
The traditional and usual upheaval and movement of players during the opening phases of a new expansion will contribute to a pool of players looking to establish new ties and get involved in new guilds.
Whilst the number of pugs may decrease on a practical level, the number of players looking to pug may very well increase dramatically in the opening tiers of content.
As a raid leader and a recruitment officer I look at this and think two things. Firstly, that I can afford to be less discriminating in what I recruit, class and spec wise, whilst still being able to create a solid raid synergy. Secondly, the pool of players which I have access to is likely to be greater than at any single point during Wrath.
The Tasty Perks
Guild perks of course sweeten the deal. There will be a greater incentive than ever before to be a part of a guild which performs well no matter where your interests lie. I say in the title of this blog I believe guild recruitment will become a buyers market, with guilds able to pick and choose much more carefully between applicants. The deciding factors for a lot of guilds may shift away from 'we need a/shaman/whatever because we're struggling to fill signups' to a matter of 'we need a very good dps that fits the guild and we can afford to trial people till we find the right person'. This won't really affect the hardcore guilds or the more insular raid groups, but I do believe at the core of things these changes are a good thing. I go out of my way when recruiting to consider the impact of a new player on my raid group, the personality's involved and how well someone will mesh with my guild. I consider these changes beneficial to how I run things, they give me more freedom to choose. But then, I'm in a privileged position—I'm already guilded with a solid player base.
How might this impact players on the other side of the coin, competing against a wider group of players for the same raid slots? Will personal skill become a yardstick with which to sell oneself? Or will the current fascination with gearscore and achievements continue to confound and obfuscate the idea of skill, leaving players searching for a way to prove themselves in a more original, striking fashion? I kind of hope so.
Of course this is all just theory, and things could be radically different. You can't always accurately predict social movements without a lot of data—but I do wonder what will happen when Deathwing takes to the skies.
Will your guild stand as it always has, or will you adapt to meet the challenge?
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