Friday, May 11, 2012

Structure of Large and Small Guilds

Ratshag left a comment on the previous post on MMO decline, and I've decided to highlight his comment and my response:
I notice you done completely skipped over the change from 40-man raiding ta 10/25 what came in TBC. If'n yer arguements was correct, should there not have been a drop in subscriptions then? Afters all, it hit a lotta raidin' guilds hard, and hardest hit were the 15-or-so grunts what (accordin' ta conventional wisdom) was bein' carried. Leaders, not so much. So how's come the subscription numbers went up?
I also notice what you says 10-man raidin' came "into vogue" in mid/late-Rash. What does this mean? It started showin' up on magazine covers? I mean, 10-mans was more popular in terms of numbers of buggers startin' in Kara, and this never changed. 25-mans had better rewards all through the end of Rash of the Itch King, an' still offer a greater quantity. So is yer "in vogue" claim fer that point in time based on anythin' objective, or did ya fall inta a trap of "well, that's when subscriptions done peaked, so that musta been when 10-mans became more stylin'."?

I don't think that the drop from 40 to 25 really changed the "nature" of guilds. To put it another way, a 40-man guild is closer in structure to a 25-guild than a 25-man is to 10-man. A 25-man guild will maintain sub-groups like healers and tanks and ranged dps. But a 10-man generally only has the main group, with no subgroups. A 25 is far more likely to have formal loot structures, where a 10 will be mostly ad hoc.

Qualitatively, I would say that their is a point where a guild flips from "large" to "small" and that point is somewhere between 10 and 25. An interesting question might be 15-mans. Would they feel more like 10s or 25s?

Keep in mind that the guild needs more than the bare minimum. A 25-man guild is really more like 35 people, and a 40-man is closer to 50 or 60.

As for the timing, I don't think that Karazhan changed the nature of guilds. Everyone knew that future raids in TBC would be 25 man, so they temporarily bent their structure to accomodate Kara.

But I definitely think that around Ulduar, guilds started to internalize the idea that 10s were viable. Structure started shifting to accommodating 10s. Large guilds started forming subgroups, almost subguilds, that ran the 10s together.

In my view, it all comes down to structure. The structure of 40s is very similar to the structure of 25s. But that is different than the structure of 10s. Ulduar-ish was the time that guild structure started changing permanently, at least from my observations.

I just think the 40/25 structure was more conducive to retention than the 10 structure is.


  1. Spot on, small raid sizes is killing this game. Raid Leader experience here.

    Trying to run a 10 man group at the moment after giving up on recruiting for 25. And it is an amazing headache for Raid and Guild leaders.

    Still, people won't go 25 man. Because it is just a lot harder, we can't recruit for it, we can't try to do it again, there is no way back. And the progress for 10 is great, which means the loot is better.

    The drop from 40->25 was never even noticeable. You didn't need to exclude anyone (as not everyone wanted to continue raiding). The only difference was that we 'Class Leaders' became an obsolete idea.

    The only advantage we have as 25 man guild is the social aspect. We can easily have 15-25 people online on non-raid days. Compare this to the 2-3 people you see in progression 10 man.

    10 man = progress. 25 man = fun.

  2. There is something to what you say. But I am not sure which is cause and effect. Did large raids cause more retention? Or did the, for want of a better word, dedication that caused people to join 25 mans lead to better retention.

    For instance, outside of the top few guilds trying for realm firsts, I don't see a lot of people willing to be a bench. 30+ people showing up ready and on time, allowing the optimal per-boss team to be assembled is clearly the best way to progress, But for the overwhelming number of guilds, people who see themselves as raiders expect to raid.

    I think 10s are even tougher that way, especially with the annoying DS fights - single tank several bosses. 4-heal your first H Mor attempts. I.e., 25s are tougher to set up but more resilient to schedule perturbations - say a tank/healer couple go on vacation together. (N.B. turns out it's less drama if they are not married to other people; our guild had our first WoW-facilitated divorce in 2012.)

    The market has clearly spoken - Bliz recent quote was they would still develop 25s as long as there was enough interest but the trends are obvious.

    I think there is a lot to what you say but that we are never going back to long & difficult leveling or large raids.

    @11:41 of our our 1os raid leader wanted to put together a 25s and there was just no interest. [Rant incoming\ "zomg who gets the legendary material drops" complicates any raid these days.

    The challenge for companies is that there is little between raiding with a semi-rigid group of people on a semi-rigid schedule and unsubscribing. I think MoP is hoping LFR, challenges and especially scenarios will change that. (Haters would insert farms and pet-battles to the list.)

    P.S. I think it was interesting that Bioware said 16s are supposed to be easier than 8s as compensation for the extra efforts in organization.

    1. I think the jury is still out on the 8 versus 16 guild only runs 8s so I can't give you any first hand account.

      I give the author credit (in the original post ) recognizing the warning sign of the data matching too neatly with his opinion

  3. "I don't think that the drop from 40 to 25 really changed the "nature" of guilds. "

    I think it did. For a start it broke up a LOT of guilds because they weren't able to downsize without having a schism. But also, in 40 man days, we had really solid class management with a class leader and a cadre of other members, because you needed 5 of each class in a raid. When it went to 25 man, that pretty much went out of the window. You may hear about healing leads, but you'll never hear about cleric leads or hunter leads any more.

  4. Spinks, I don't think there was a lot of difference between "class" leads and "role" leads.

    Sure, in the 40-man, me and my fellow paladins would be in the paladin channel and we had our own paladin class officer. But in 25-mans, we would be in the healer channel with our healing officer.

    The composition of the subgroup is different, but a subgroup still exists.

  5. I dunno, there was a lot of difference for me because I was a priest lead during vanilla WoW. And a lot of that was about recruiting priests and keeping the players happy and informed, training anyone new, discussing stuff like addons and gearing. It was very class specific.

    Being a healing lead -- well for a start you might only have a couple of other healers anyway, plus you'd be expected to intimately know what every other heal spec could do. if you never experienced the class heavy culture, you won't realise how much it changed, but imagine the WoW blog culture of having commuinities based around class ... in every raid guild.

  6. I give you credit in your prior post for basically saying you were pulling a hypothesis out of your butt, for the lack of a better term, but I don't understand how your argument in this post refutes Ratshag's point any better. It boils down to "Because I think so."

    You even mention it yourself at the end:
    "I just think the 40/25 structure was more conducive to retention than the 10 structure is."

    I think we certainly need more data to back up your claims, we could all post until we're blue in the face (hands for typing?) and not go anywhere.

  7. I run a 10 man raiding guild, and we struggle with numbers week in and week out - if 12 people show up to raid two weeks in a row, I know only 8 will show up the next week. I rarely have a week where I don't pug a spot or sit someone. It's a good thing DS is easy or I'd be losing people left and right. The singular of data isn't anecdote, but in my experience keeping a 25 man roster was easier week to week. Sitting out 8% of raids vs 20% is a whole lot easier to sell.