Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Slow Death of 25-man Raiding

Unfortunately, because Blizzard decided to use the same achievements for both 10 and 25-man raiding, it's somewhat hard to disentangle exact statistics. But I believe there are some clear trends in what data we do have.

Take a look at these graphs, from wowtrack.org, which display where guilds are in progression. In particular, mouse-over the 25-man/10-man lines in the legend (upper-left corner) and watch the graph change.

You'll see that there's a clear difference in the shape of the demographics for 10s and 25s. 10s are shifted to the left and have a much larger proportion in the non-heroic area before sloping down. 25s, in contrast, display something close to a binomial distribution with slopes down to zero on both sides of the peak.

What this graph indicates to me is that no new 25-man guilds are forming!

Instead, the 25-man guilds appear to be the same 25-man guilds that existed at the end of the last expansion, and they are moving through the content more or less as a single wave. Note that the median 25-guild has one or two heroic modes already down, making it very likely that they are experienced guilds.

In contrast, 10s have a lot of guilds clustered on the left side of the high point, indicating that there are a lot of newer guilds there. And if you look at the numbers below, you see that there are about ten 10-man guilds for every 25-man guild.

And this makes sense, to a certain degree. Where would new 25-man guilds come from? A guild new to raiding would start raiding with their first 10 raiders. There's no need to move up to 25s. Maybe a large guild with multiple raid teams might merge some, but then you have issues where Team A is several bosses ahead of Team B, or too many raid leaders, or conflicting schedules or loot rules. Why break up three functioning teams to create one team which may or may not be successful?

But if no new 25-man raid teams are created, then the number of existing 25-man teams will slowly fall just through everyday attrition. In the normal scheme of things guilds die, and new guilds are born to replace them. That's what's happened all throughout WoW's past. But now, no new 25s are appearing to refresh the blood.

That's why I think 25-man raiding is doomed. Not because of any inherent negative quality in them, but because I just don't see where the new 25-man guilds are going to come from.

Given the path we're on, I would be surprised if 25-man raiding existed in the next expansion. The number of existing 25-man guilds will probably be less than half of what it is now, just through regular attrition.


  1. Interesting graphs, thanks for the links.

    There is another way to read the graphs. I think you're right that ~zero 25-man teams are being created from scratch, but it is still possible that 25-man teams are being created by merging two or three 10-man teams. Note that this merger will probably only take place if teams are doing well!

    So if a guild says "hey guys, raiding is going well, our three teams are 7/12 - lets merge and do 25-man next week" you will see exactly the pattern shown in the graph. No 25-man guild is stuck at 1/12 or 2/12... because the 25-man guilds only are born out of teams that have already progressed mastered those bosses.

    I don't insist on this explanation, but it's something to keep in mind.

  2. Obviously the additional VP are not enough.

    But there is a fix. All they have to do is to offer a satchel to the raid leader of 25 man raids which contains additional gold and flasks and cross faction pets and a small chance at rare raid mount.

    Oh wait...

    But on a more serious note, if 25 man raiding dies 10 man organized will follow soon after. 10 man raids have to be small enough to not bench to many people but still big enough to be able to run every week. This puts way to big limits on the acceptable guild/raid pool size for the average player.

  3. I think a lot of people saw this coming when Blizzard announced the raiding model for Cataclysm (ie. 25's dropping the same loot at 10's, just more of it.) The additional complication of herding twenty-five "cats" as opposed to ten "cats" is simply not worth the effort for the average player/guild without the added benefit of superior loot.

    The fact of the matter is that all of us want to progress our characters. Now we may define "progress" differently, but for most that means improving your stats and performance somehow, and the way to do that is with gear. Having 25's and 10's drop the same items eliminated "stat progression" as a motivation. Yes there is still the "achievement/accomplishment" motivation, but I think what we are seeing bears out that this motivation does not interest a significant portion of the playerbase.

  4. Why would anyone who knows 10 decent players want to raid with 10 decent players + 15 unknowns/filler?

    Only the diminishing pool of people who already know enough good players and can recruit more can sustain 25s.

    For anyone who can't lay their hands on 30 top notch players it makes more sense to cherry pick the best 10 you can get.

  5. 25s will continue to be the slightly better option for those who are serious about progression due both to the loot difference and fight comp requirements (ie a boss where class/spec x makes the fight significantly easier will be less of a pain to deal with on 25 where you almost certainly will have at least one person with that ability.) If you're a more casual type that's not interested in flipping the heroic switch, the only reasons why you'd bother with 25s are if you just have a lot of people you want to raid with or just like running with a bigger group.

    Thus, 25s are dominated by hardcore basement-dwellers while 10s are dominated by casual baddies. The fact that the ratio of 10 guilds killing bosses to 25 guilds killing bosses drops off sharply at the 9/12H and 1/13H breakpoints supports this.

    So I don't think we're going to see a slow bleeding out of 25-man guilds because the only reason why anyone still raids 25s is tradition. If we do, it'll probably be representative of a slow bleeding out of hardcore players in general.

  6. If I might pimp my own tool, http://raidbots.com/ is now using all public logs from World of Logs as its data set.

    Specifically related to this post, you can get an idea of how many players are in each format:


    The above shows DPS classes by number of times seen in the last week on heroic 25 bosses. You can jump between the various sizes and bosses to compare normal/heroic and 10/25.

    I'm not sure the current charts tell a clear story aside from more people are getting kills in heroic modes. But it'll be interesting to watch this stuff when a new patch hits.

    At some point I'll try to add some views that show total sample size over time to see if the numbers of folks logging to WOL changes, etc.

  7. >>
    Why would anyone who knows 10 decent players want to raid with 10 decent players + 15 unknowns/filler?

    And a few months down the line you'll be raiding with 6-7 decent players and 3-4 unknown/fillers. Competing against the 40-50 guilds on your server to recruit. Then you'll hit the summer raiding lull...

    In the 25/10 changes there are no winners. The Slow Death of Raiding is a better title.

  8. Yeah I see the same developement there. Making a 25man run takes much more organization and in the end you'll never see a RealmFirst! since a bunch of 10 friends will be able to raid 5 days or more, will be able to keep up the same raid composition and succeed much faster.

    This is what is happening our realm. One 10m guild is dominating over all established 25m guids (as long as they still exist) and it's just depressing to see the RealmFirst! spams while you're still progressing on the same boss. We're a pretty stable guild but I really would understand if people said they would rather like to hunt RealmFirsts! with their 9 best friends in Firelands than struggle with attendance or disconnects in a 25m.

  9. I agree. We have even begun to see it on a micro scale, on our server. Most 25 man guilds are the same ones from Lich King, and we are in 10th place. However, there is a huge influx of 10 man guilds which makes our overall ranking fall to 32nd :(. To make matters worse, those who are not specifically looking for a 25 man guild will not even see our recruitment page on WoWProgress, making it harder to replace members as we lose them.

  10. The statistics might also be reflective of the fact that 10-man guilds tend to be very unstable. It doesn't take that much to throw together 10 people, so you get a lot of guilds collapsing due to drama concerns that wouldn't happen with the kind of leadership required to build an effective 25-man team.