Does Blizzard Owe it to Players to Make Guilds Appealing?
How many times have you talked to a Warcraft player and asked them why do you keep playing? And how many times has the answer been I love the people I play with. I can bet a lot. I know for me its a lot, its one of the biggest reasons I keep playing. My guildmates are a second family for me, and when I am not in game running dungeons, raids and quests with them, I am checking the forums and twitter for them. For me, Warcraft since the beginning has been about the social aspects less so about content. Now don’t get me wrong, content is important, but what matters most is logging in and seeing familiar faces in my guild. People I have built relationships with for going on 9 years.
However lately, especially in Mists of Pandaria guilds I feel have taken a back seat to story and content. In fact its easier than ever to “solo” the game with dungeon queues, LFR, the only new feature forcing a fixed group is really challenge modes and heroic scenarios. Sure normal and heroic raiding require an organized group but I could argue with LFR normal and heroic mode are secondary to some who don’t have the time commitment or even the desire to be social. In MoP, there has arguably been no new features for guilds. Guilds have not received any new levels, buffs, in fact we got the Have Group Will Travel ability removed in favor of making the world feel bigger, which I am still not happy about but that is besides the point. Guilds have gotten the short end of the stick this expansion, as a guild leader I find this concerning.
My concern is because the social tie ins, where people feel a belonging to a guild, a group of people and more attention should be paid to making guilds important in World of Warcraft. Many people will argue they like playing WoW as a single player offering, but lets face facts, this game is a Massive Multiplayer Online game, which means that we should be interacting with other people. Sure mechanisms have made it that guilds are not as needed as they once were but I feel that for the continued success of the game Blizzard needs to focus more on guilds.
It has been 2+ years since the guild UI had an overhaul. The in-game recruitment feature is garbage, and Blizzard has acknowledged this. No new levels mean no new perks, and with reducing the amount needed to hit level 25 its easier to hit max level as a guild, there is less distinction between many guilds now, to where the perks are status quo. Something needs to change to help include guilds more, provide them with more features, give them a reason to do things other than just raiding. I know what you are thinking, that’s up the guild leadership to organize events and plan things. Sure I absolutely agree, but wouldn’t it be great if Blizzard put in game mechanics to support guild events more?
In 2011 I proposed the idea of user created content, and specifically guild quests. Quests that guild leaders could create for a weekly basis, maybe even similar to the “weekly” quests Blizzard implemented with 5.3. The idea that guilds could create their own sets of dailies for in-guild perks, perhaps transmog items, something that would be special for guilds but nothing game breaking for people not in guild would be awesome, and something that could be just enough of a carrot to bring a group together. Another option is to setup an instanced world boss for just the guild to go tackle, think of it like a work order on a farm, where a guild was asked to go kill a world boss that was instanced or phased just for that guild, have it as a weekly quest the guild leaders could setup.
In 2009 then again in 2011 I talked about guild housing. I know Blizzard is not too in favor of this, thinking it would only be something for guild officers, but truly if done right could be a great way to bring guilds together, decorating the hall with your conquests in raids and dungeons. With the invention of the farm in MoP, I see this as a more real possibility, maybe tie the expansion of a guild hall to guild quests and objectives. Could be a great way to make guilds work together to achieve something in game other than just hanging out.
Finally I feel that guilds need at least another 5 levels, or a whole new way to make them feel special as compared to other guilds. Originally Blizzard was looking into a guild talent tree of sorts, but they moved away from that to perks. Perks are great but most guilds have them (those that are all at level 25 anyway). Once at level 25, and you are exalted with your guild, the question is what is next? The answer sadly at the moment is nothing much. So give us more levels, more perks, and perhaps another way to customize our guild to make us special in some way, maybe something along the lines of the new way talents are being done in MoP for players but for guilds instead. Also while Blizzard is at it, they might as well make the in-game guild recruitment a bit more robust, allow us to set times for our raids not just weekdays or weekends. Let us specify what we need, let us have our guild applications in the tool as well.
As a shareholder and a fan of Warcraft, I feel if Blizzard wants to continue to see success they have to focus on community, and the best place to start is putting a lot of focus and energy into guilds. Enabling a strong guild community will strengthen social bonds between players and ultimately lead to longer subscriptions. So yes, in my opinion Blizzard does owe it to the players, current and future, to make guilds appealing.