For a long while after quitting WoW I laboured under the impression that if the Cats were to find a magical One True Game again, we’d all fall back into cooperative group gaming. In my mind this would be raiding, because that’s what I have experience with, but really any kind of group activity would count. What I realized lately, though, is that I’m probably one of the very few people who actually want this again. For the most part, my guildies and friends appear to be tired of what I call Appointment Gaming.
Perhaps it’s getting older, or burning out on MMOs, or just being bored from years of WoW, but whatever the reason most people think in the abstract that they want organized cooperative gaming, but when faced with the actuality of having to be online at a certain time every week they blanche. And while I am kind of ribbing those folks here, I don’t blame them for not being as in to Appointment Gaming now as they once were. Things change, and arguably judging by guildies, friends, game statistics, and fellow bloggers, this change is affecting the majority of MMO players.
However, if in general the MMO community is moving away from Appoinment Gaming, where does this leave guilds? The problem is that people still want socializing and cooperative group activities, but they want it on their schedule and they don’t want activities that require work outside of the activity itself (ie. gear grinding). To have this happen spontaneously, you need a certain number of people online at any given time. You need people to chat with, and people to form groups with, whether it’s for a dungeon or a PvP encounter or whatever.
A guild is going to need a LOT of people to keep this critical mass of folks online who are ready to group at any moment. Back in our 25-man raiding heyday you could find roughly 10 people on during non-raid prime time, and that required about 75 players. And that was when our recruitment was oriented around raiding — it’s a lot more difficult to recruit people with a platform of “we just, like, hang out sometimes and stuff” despite the fact that most people are just looking to hang out sometimes and stuff.
I dunno — it seems to me that non-appointment gaming doesn’t suit the small guild model. It’s hard to recruit for a guild with no organized events, it’s hard to have enough people online waiting to fill a group. It would, however, perfectly suit a game with a huge playerbase, preset events that don’t require much coordination, and a lack of emphasis on guild structure.
Which, upon reflection, is I suppose why I don’t like Guild Wars 2, and others do.