Death of the PvE raiding guild?

This is probably highly biased by the current status of my server and the disproportion of Horde to Alliance. But this has been something that’s been on my mind a lot lately, especially since I’ve been trying to recruit for guild raids.

Now the guild I’m in has been around for a long time, though I’ve only been in it for 2 expansions. But there has been a definite decline in raiding numbers and applicants since I joined in Wrath. We were a 25 man in Wrath with spare people on hold to boot. There were a stream of applicants towards the end, however most of whom seemed to be after their “Kingslayer” title then promptly left.  Then came Cataclysm and loot changed so 10 dropped the same value gear as 25. Slowly this meant the decline of 25 man guilds into 10, ours included. Was this a good thing? More guilds, smaller base? 25 man guilds became scarce on our server, with the vast majority of guilds becoming 10 man, or larger guilds splintering into 10 man guilds.

Cataclysm we still had enough for 2 10 man groups, and recruitment was slower but enough. As time went on it became harder to maintain 2 10 man groups and I believe we ended up with just one. By Dragon Soul we merged with another guild and had a few promising applicants so we were able to break into 25s again, and were one of only 2 25 mans on Alliance and with few on Horde either. Our rogue managed to be the second on our server to get the legendary daggers. As at the end of most expansions, it seems, attendance and interest dropped off towards the end and we moved back to 10 man.

Now come Mists of Pandaria. I can’t say I’m an expert on comparing this to other expansions, but after the lack of “new” content – for lack of a better expression – in Cataclysm, I quite like the new areas and the new races. However, the amount of players who continued to play into MoP seems to have dwindled, or at least from the perspective of my realm/faction. Our not-so-long-ago 25s have turned into not even 10 people for raids. Recruitment of course, is what’s needed. The only problem is every other 10 man guild is attempting to recruit as well. Not to mention all the advertisements of “new 10 man guild looking for raiders!” which a few days later turns into “selling level 25 guild, offer!”. It feels like rather than join an existing guild too many people attempt to create their own 10 man. So rather than a decent amount of 25 man guilds, there’s many, many half complete 10 man fractures. Applications and interest in joining raiding guilds feels like it’s at an all time low. Is the faction + server just dead? Perhaps. But why? Is it alliance? Is it because this server is dominated by horde, making it uninviting to play an outnumbered faction? Is there just too many 10 man guilds when they should just consolidate and merge with one another?

But it’s not only recruitment. Pug groups feel like they’re scarce as well. This was probably partially due to Stone Guardians being a bit of a brick wall for pugs with inexperienced tanks. I remember back in Wrath seeing 25 man ICC pugged often; we even did it ourselves to finish off our last Shadowmourne. Lately I’ve seen 10 man pugs advertising for the same roles for up to or over an hour. A 10 man pug I was in on my priest fell apart after waiting 90 minutes to fill the last few spots. Even guilds pugging the last member or two have trouble filling the spot, and it’s almost guaranteed boss kills.  Is no one interested in raiding anymore? Perhaps all the casuals who used to need to join pugs to experience the raid content are content now with experiencing it through raid finder; there’s no interest in waiting an hour for a pug to form when you can queue up and go easy-mode. So, is Looking For Raid one of the culprits for the fall in raiding? I always thought of LFR as a supplement to real raiding, like a small bridge across the barrier between Heroics and Raids in gearing up and learning strategies, not that it would replace real raids. But are people who used to join a raiding guild now just content with LFR once a week? Or perhaps is the game simply made up of higher percentages of “casual” players who don’t have the time for a raid schedule?

The huge swerve in interest, however, is the rise of the “PvP guild”; ones who promise to do daily pre-made battlegrounds and Rated Battlegrounds, and sometimes world PvP (though I imagine the other faction just finds this a nuisance). From what I’ve seen this usually falls through (but then most new guilds probably do) or it becomes impossible to break into the “core” group who actually succeed, and get left with scraping together a team yourself. It feels a new PvP guild pops up every other day, and the demand for joining a PvP guilds seems high. I wonder if the reason for this is casuals who don’t have the time to adhere to a raid schedule but can progress quite a lot in an evening or day through Rated Battlegrounds. Then of course there’s all the people who think they’re awesome at PvP and that’s all they’re interested in doing, even though a lot don’t seem to have researched the class they play and how they should be going about gearing (you know who I’m talking about; the ones stacking dodge as melee or expertise as a caster, or using outdated gems like +resist all). This brings up the question, is PvP more time and investment efficient than raiding?

I know this is heavily biased; it could just be my limited personal experience. Though I wonder if many other people or guilds are experiencing the same decline in interest in raiding. And I’m not doing the whole “Blizzard has lost x% of subscriptions, the game is dying”; I think the game has a lot of life left in it. It does feel though, like the game is becoming more desirable to the casual players and perhaps the high-end players (they may beg to differ, as claims that the game is too easy are rather abundant around the game), but not the kind of “middle class” of players. The ones that may never get world first, or server first, but want to push through normal mode and at least try hard modes. If anyone actually reads this blog (which they probably don’t, and therefore I’m writing a kind of semi-public journal that’s left open on a table but no one actually pauses to read it), what are your thoughts? Is PvE raiding declining? Are 25 man guilds dying? Has LFR usurped pug and casual raiding, or is it a focus on PvP content?

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